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RFL hails ‘historic’ Challenge Cup deal with Coral

The Rugby Football League has today (Monday) agreed a historic commercial partnership with Coral which will see the bookmaker become title sponsor of both the men’s and women’s Challenge Cups in a two-year deal.

The RFL said the contract is worth a seven-figure sum. The two competitions will come together when the Women’s Challenge Cup final shares the stage with the men’s semi-finals in a triple header at the University of Bolton Stadium on July 27. The men’s Challenge Cup final will be held at London’s Wembley Stadium on August 24.

“This is a really significant day both for the Challenge Cup, and for women’s rugby league,” Ralph Rimmer, RFL chief executive, said.

“The men’s Challenge Cup is one of the iconic competitions and trophies of British sport, with more than 120 years of history, and the famous Wembley final televised live to the nation and the world by the BBC. The Women’s Challenge Cup may not have that history, but Coral’s enthusiasm for it to be part of a joint sponsorship deal confirms our determination that it is set for a really exciting future.

“With Coral’s name now linked to both the men’s and women’s Challenge Cups, it’s equally exciting to be able to extend the double header for the men’s semi finals that proved such a big hit last year, and now incorporate the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final.”

Adrian Osman, head of sponsorship and events at Coral, added: “The rugby league Challenge Cup and the final at Wembley are flagship events in British sport, and we are delighted that Coral’s name will now be associated with them in this significant deal.

“In addition, the opportunity to get involved with women’s sport and the development of women’s rugby league as the first title sponsors of the Women’s Challenge Cup is hugely exciting for us – and combining the final with the semi-finals of the Coral Challenge Cup should produce another great event.”

The RFL also confirmed today that 2018 Challenge Cup winner the Catalans Dragons will defend their title, after reaching an agreement with the French club to end recent uncertainty about their participation.

The Catalans were the first non-English club to win the trophy, but had been considering their position after being asked to pay a £500,000 (€566,000/$643,000) deposit to enter. However, the RFL today said they will enter the competition at the sixth round stage in May, having finished in the top eight of the Super League in 2018.