OLDHAM RL Club’s fourth-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against community club Haydock ARLFC has been selected by BBC Sport as the feature game of the round.
As such, it will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website from Bower Fold, Stalybridge, kicking off at 1pm on Saturday, March 18. The kick-off has been brought forward by one hour.
In the last round the streaming of the tie between Halifax amateurs Siddal and new club Toronto Wolfpack, which Wolfpack won 14-6, attracted 41,936 viewers, which the BBC regarded as an extremely healthy figure.
Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton said: “To have our tie chosen by the BBC as the focus game of the round was important for us, as a club.
“It gives a much wider audience than usual an opportunity to watch us in action and it will enable us to spread the word about Oldham Rugby.
“We have had to bring the kick-off time forward from 2pm to 1pm but an opportunity to play in the BBC’s feature game was too good to miss.
“The coverage will also showcase everything that’s good about the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, and the opportunities it provides for community clubs, given that our opponents Haydock have done wonderfully well to become the lowest-ranked club ever to reach the fourth round.
“It goes without saying that we will be doing our utmost to make sure the viewers don’t have an upset to watch !”
Oldham know all about Challenge Cup upsets, having pulled off one of the biggest ever when they knocked out 2015 Wembley finalists Hull KR, then a Super League club, on their own ground last year.
Haydock, meanwhile, had a special guest at training last night when they were put through their paces by St Helens legend and assistant coach Sean Long.
“He and I played in the same team at Saints and he was delighted to accept my invitation,” said Haydock coach Chris Smith.
Smith (41) was a winger with Castleford, St Helens, Hull FC and York City Knights before becoming player-coach at York amateurs Heworth and then joining Haydock as boss when he and his partner relocated to her native west Lancashire five years ago.
Added Smith: “Sean was genuinely surprised by our skill levels and his words were that we dropped fewer passes than Saints did in their last game
“We’ve got a lot of good players – that’s why we are champions of our league (North-West Men’s League) and we are unbeaten in nine or ten games in all competitions.”
Oldham, meanwhile, report a clean bill of health ahead of Sunday’s derby clash at Rochdale (3pm), apart from prop Phil Joy (dislocated shoulder) and long-term victim Craig Briscoe (knee).