History beckons as 2013 Northern Rail Cup begins

Date published: Monday, February 25, 2013

A place in the historic Northern Rail Finals Day at The Shay, Halifax, on Saturday July 20 will be the ultimate goal for the eight clubs who kick off the group stages of the 2013 Northern Rail Cup this weekend.

Roughyeds go to Wrexham on Sunday to play North Wales Crusaders (2.30pm kick off) and then entertain derby rivals Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank (3pm) in our first home game seven days later.

Our other two group games are against Gateshead at home on Sunday, March 17 and South Wales Scorpions away  (our cross-group game) on Sunday, March 24.

In the build-up to Sunday’s big kick-off fans are invited to Whitebank this Wednesday evening, from 7.30pm, to meet-and-greet the players and to support them as they receive their official squad numbers which they will wear for the full season.

Admission is free, and this is a great opportunity for supporters to mix and mingle with new coaches Scott Naylor and Lee ‘Spanner’ Spencer and to get to know the players, including the 12 new ones, whom you will be supporting at Whitebank and around the country for the next seven months or so.

Officials of ORSA, the supporters’ association, will also be in attendance to push their Squad Strengthener scheme which will be used solely for the purpose of bringing in new players as and when it is necessary or appropriate to do so.

Scott and ‘Spanner’ hope as many fans as possible will try to make it on Wednesday so that bonding between squad and fans can start in earnest ahead of the opening fixture.

Meanwhile, all eight clubs who play in the NRC group stages will set their sights on a coveted place in the Northern Rail Cup final but will also be in contention to contest the inaugural Northern Rail Bowl final, which will feature the two highest ranked Kingstone Press Championship One clubs.

The opening fixtures of the 2013 Northern Rail Cup see Hemel Stags and University of Gloucestershire All Golds compete in the professional ranks for the first time when they go head-to-head on Sunday March 3.

They will be joined by Gateshead Thunder, London Skolars, North Wales Crusaders, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets and South Wales Scorpions competing in two groups, with the top side in each group set to progress to a knock-out round of 16 where they will join all 14 Kingstone Press Championship clubs in May.

Should a Championship One club reach the Northern Rail Cup final, the club placed second in its group will play in the Bowl final.

“The Northern Rail Cup has firmly established itself as one of the sport’s most entertaining competitions and has as a prize a trophy that all Championship players want to get their hands on,” said RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer.

“The competition has treated us to some memorable and dramatic action during the past few years and recent finals have been among the most exciting games of recent times.

“The re-structured group stages have added an extra element to the competition and promise to make for an increasingly competitive competition from start to finish. I look forward to watching the action unfold during the coming weeks.

“This is a very exciting year for the sport with an expanded Championship and three new clubs entering Championship One: with an extra trophy up for grabs, I fully expect the action to be even more cut-throat over the coming months.

“Every team now has a realistic possibility of a final appearance on the big stage: from the moment the ball is kicked-off in every Northern Rail Cup fixture, every pass, every tackle and every score will count!”

The 2013 Northern Rail Cup Groups are as follows:

Group A

Rochdale Hornets
Gateshead Thunder
North Wales Crusaders

Group B

South Wales Scorpions
London Skolars
Gloucestershire All Golds
Hemel Stags

Each club will play four games, two Home and two Away. Three games will be between clubs in their pool with one game played against a club in the other pool.

All 14 Kingstone Press Championship sides enter the competition during the first knock-out stage which will be played on the weekend of May 18/19.

Details of ticket prices and availability for the 2013 Northern Rail Cup finals day at The Shay, Halifax, on Saturday July 20 will be announced in the next few weeks.