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Red Star Belgrade to join First Round draw for 2019 Challenge Cup

Red Star Belgrade will bring one of the great names of European sport to the oldest competition in Rugby League when they are included in the draw for the First Round of the 2019 Challenge Cup next Friday (December 14) at Emerald Headingley – the venue for the first Challenge Cup final in 1897.

The draw, which will be held before the second international between England Academy and Australia Schoolboys, will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website at 5.30pm.

Red Star, a globally recognised sporting name largely through the success of their football club who won the European Cup in 1991, have been playing Rugby League since 2006, and recently retained their Serbian Championship title – also contributing the majority of the players who have established Serbia as no17 in the recently-released International Federation world rankings.

Their application to play in the Challenge Cup was accepted by the Rugby Football League on the basis they must play away in rounds one and two.

Colin Kleyweg, the chairman of Red Star Belgrade Rugby League, said: “Red Star Belgrade are so proud to be a part of the 2019 Challenge Cup. This is a huge day for rugby league in Serbia and for all expanding nations that nurture local talent and local players.”

Red Star’s entry follows the historic Challenge Cup triumph for the Catalans Dragons at Wembley last year – the first non-English team to win the competition. The Serbian champions will be joined by 51 sides from across the community game in Round One with ties to be played over the weekend of January 26-27.

Wales, Scotland and Ireland are represented by Torfaen Tigers, Edinburgh Eagles and Longhorns respectively – with Longhorns, from Leinster, included for the second year running.

National Conference League Premier Division champions Hunslet Club Parkside are joined by 30 other teams from across the NCL divisions – including Kells and Normanton Knights, who both reached the Fourth Round of the 2018 Challenge Cup.

There are four clubs from the south of England: Hammersmith Hills Hoists and London Chargers, who came head to head in Round One in 2018; the All Golds from the West of England League; and North Herts Crusaders, the East League champions who will be making their Challenge Cup debut.

The North West Men’s League and Yorkshire Men’s League each have two representatives: Bentley and Batley Boys from Yorkshire; and Orrell St James and Haydock from the North West. Distington, who enjoyed a successful cup run in 2018 before falling to Betfred League 1 side Coventry Bears in Round Three, will again join the Cumbrian challenge, and Wallsend Eagles will fly the flag for the North East.

Teams from each of the Armed Services – the Army, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – will be joined by the British Police team in the draw.

The 26 winning teams from Round One will progress to the Second Round in February, before Betfred League 1 teams enter at Round Three in March, and 12 Betfred Championship sides join in Round Four later in the month. Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique XIII will not take part in the 2019 Challenge Cup.

Four Super League clubs – Hull Kingston Rovers, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos and Salford Red Devils – will all enter in Round Five in April before the top eight from the 2018 Betfred Super League join in Round Six the following month.

BBC Sport will once again select one fixture from Round One through to Round Five for live-streaming via the BBC Sport website. The selected game from Round One will be announced in due course following the draw.

The full list of 52 clubs who will be in the draw is:

All Golds, Army, Batley Boys, Bentley, Beverley, Bradford Dudley Hill, British Police, Clock Face Miners, Crosfields, Dewsbury Moor, Distington, Drighlington, East Leeds, Edinburgh Eagles, Featherstone Lions, Hammersmith Hills Hoists, Haydock, Hunslet Club Parkside, Hunslet Warriors, Kells, Leigh East, Leigh Miners Rangers, Lock Lane, London Chargers, Longhorns, Milford Marlins, Millom, Normanton Knights, North Herts Crusaders, Orrell St James, Oulton Raiders, Ovenden, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Red Star Belgrade, Rochdale Mayfield, Shaw Cross Sharks, Siddal, Skirlaugh, Stanningley, Thatto Heath, Thornhill Trojans, Torfaen Tigers, Underbank Rangers, Wallsend Eagles, Wath Brow Hornets, West Bowling, West Hull, Wigan St Judes, Wigan St Patricks, Woolston Rovers, York Acorn

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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