Saturday 15 July will be one of the biggest days in the Rugby League calendar, when the University of Hull hosts a major festival featuring three variations of the game – Wheelchair, Physical Disability and Learning Disability Rugby League.
All six Betfred Wheelchair Super League sides will compete in a Challenge Cup qualifying tournament at the Allam Sports Centre alongside the current Coupe De France champions, Catalans Dragons, who made history in 2022 when they became the first French side to enter the competition. Each team will compete in a round robin tournament, with the top two clubs earning their place in this year’s Final at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on Sunday August 20.
Rugby League fans can catch all the Wheelchair Challenge Cup action, free of charge, from 1.15pm – including Hull FC, whose quest for Challenge Cup glory begins with fixtures against London Roosters and Warrington Wolves.
Catalans Dragons made it all the way to the final in their debut season, but a sensational performance from Leeds Rhinos meant that James Simpson’s side eventually went on to win the match 48-34 and claim their third successive Wheelchair Challenge Cup.
The Rhinos could become the most successful Wheelchair Challenge Cup side in history should they be victorious again this season and will begin their title defence against Wigan Warriors before a repeat of last year’s final when they face the Dragons in the second round of fixtures.
Reigning Betfred Wheelchair Super League champions, Halifax Panthers, begin their campaign against London Roosters. The Roosters, led by England Head Coach Tom Coyd, currently sit second in the domestic table and can already boast a victory over the Panthers at Medway Park, Gillingham, in May.
And Wheelchair Rugby League kicks off the whole festival from 10.30am, with an eight team Trophy competition for the sport’s developing wheelchair teams – including Bradford Bulls and Sheffield Eagles, and Wheelchair Championship leaders North Wales Crusaders.
Outdoors, on the sports ground opposite the Allam Sports Centre, spectators can experience the best of both physical and learning disability Rugby League, with teams including Bradford Bulls, Warrington Wolves, Castleford Tigers and Salford Red Devils all in action from 11am.
Rugby Football League’s Director of Participation and Development, Marc Lovering, says: “We are really looking forward to returning to the University of Hull on July 15. The Allam Sports Centre is a wonderful facility, and we have many happy memories at the venue – including last year’s Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final.”
“We have seen huge interest in Wheelchair Rugby League since England’s historic victory in the World Cup last Autumn, and I am pleased to announce that the trophy competition has grown to include eight teams this year.”
“The event will be a fantastic showcase for Inclusive Rugby League with over 600 Wheelchair, Physical Disability and Learning Disability players coming together in one location. Entry to the event is free, so I would encourage anyone looking for an action-packed day out to come and watch.”
University of Hull Business Development Manager, Matt Thompson, explains: “Hosting the Wheelchair Challenge Cup final on campus in 2022 was a fantastic opportunity for our students, staff and local community to experience the very best of Wheelchair Rugby League.”
“Following the success of last years event we are incredibly proud and excited to be hosting the 2023 Wheelchair Challenge Cup Festival on campus alongside both Physical and Learning Disability Rugby League.”
“The combination and scale of the three festivals highlights the growth and inclusivity of Rugby League nationally and locally which aligns with our commitment to provide our students, staff and local community with a range of sporting opportunities through our on campus provision and also our professional and grassroot sporting partnerships.”
Inclusion Challenge Cup Festival
University of Hull, The Allam Sport Centre, Inglemire Lane, Kingston upon Hull, England, HU6 7TS
Wheelchair Trophy competition, 10.30am-1pm
Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup, 1.15pm-4pm
PDRL and LDRL Festivals, 11am-1pm