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Widnes to launch the 2021 Road to Wembley in Wales

West Wales Raiders were handed a dream tie against Widnes Vikings when the draw for the first two rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup was held this evening.

The Raiders, one of three teams from League 1 who joined 13 from the Championship in the First Round draw, have made two eyecatching signings in the former Wales rugby union international Gavin Henson, and the former England league international Rangi Chase.

Both could now make their Raiders debut next month against Widnes, seven-times Challenge Cup winners who also have strong links with Wales through the many rugby union internationals who came north to play for the club, such as Jonathan Davies, John Devereux and Paul Moriarty.

Two old West Yorkshire rivals with considerable Challenge Cup pedigree, Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls, were drawn to play each other in the heavyweight tie of the round by Jon Wilkin, the former England and Great Britain international and four-times Cup winner with St Helens, who made the draw which was screened live by BBC Sport.

The draws for both the First and Second Rounds were held consecutively because they will be played on consecutive weekends in March – marking the first Rugby League action of 2021, and a return to action after more than a year of enforced inactivity for all 16 clubs involved.

The winners of the Featherstone-Bradford tie will face further West Yorkshire opposition in the Second Round, as they were drawn at home to the winners of another local derby between the renamed Halifax Panthers and Batley Bulldogs.

The winners of the West Wales versus Widnes tie will be at home to the winners of the First Round tie between Whitehaven and Dewsbury Rams.

The other two League 1 teams in the First Round have both been drawn away – Barrow Raiders travelling to Oldham, while Keighley Cougars will head south to face London Broncos.

The winners of the latter tie will be at home to the winners of another attractive tie between Sheffield Eagles and York City Knights, while the winners of the Oldham-Barrow tie will be away to either Swinton Lions or Newcastle Thunder.

The winners of the four Second Round ties will join the 12 Betfred Super League clubs in the Third Round in April – and will earn a second attempt to reach Wembley as they will also qualify for the semi finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in June.

Days and times for kick-offs for the eight First Round ties will be confirmed as soon as possible, following discussions with clubs and the BBC about broadcast & streaming schedules.

Betfred Challenge Cup

First Round (ties to be played weekend of March 21): London Broncos v Keighley Cougars, Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams, Oldham v Barrow Raiders, West Wales Raiders v Widnes Vikings, Swinton Lions v Newcastle Thunder, Halifax Panthers v Batley Bulldogs, Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights, Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls.

Second Round (ties to be played weekend of March 28): Swinton Lions or Newcastle Thunder v Oldham or Barrow Raiders, Featherstone Rovers or Bradford Bulls v Halifax Panthers or Batley Bulldogs, London Broncos or Keighley Cougars v Sheffield Eagles or York City Knights, West Wales Raiders or Widnes Vikings v Whitehaven or Dewsbury Rams.*

Third Round (Four Second Round winners and 12 Betfred Super League clubs): Weekend of April 11

Quarter Finals: Weekend of May 9

Semi Finals: Weekend of June 5

Final: Saturday July 17 (Wembley Stadium)

*The four Second Round winners will also qualify for the semi finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup


Club Cash

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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