Challenge Cup quarter-final dates confirmed

Bradford Bulls celebrate their Coral Challenge Cup win over Leeds Rhinos. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Bradford Bulls celebrate their Coral Challenge Cup win over Leeds Rhinos. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Wakefield Trinity’s Coral Challenge Cup quarter-final at St Helens will be staged on Saturday, June 1 and televised live on BBC One (3.15pm).

The BBC cameras will be at Odsal Stadium the following afternoon when Bradford Bulls take on Halifax (2.45pm).

Sky Sports will focus on the two Hull clubs on consecutive nights, showing 2016 and 2017 Wembley winners Hull FC against Cup holders Catalans Dragons on Thursday, May 30 and Hull KR versus Warrington Wolves on Friday May 31 (both 7.35pm).

Bulls’ shock sixth round victory over Leeds Rhinos on Saturday attracted a peak viewing figure of 1.1m on BBC One.

Halifax have also claimed a Super League scalp, beating London Broncos in the fifth round and the West Yorkshire rivals will be battling to become the first non top-flight club to reach the Cup semi-finals since Hull Kingston Rovers in 2006.

Wakefield have not played in a Challenge Cup Final since they lost to Widnes in 1979.

Confirmation of the quarter-final schedule comes after a sixth-round weekend which produced the highest aggregate attendance for this stage of the competition since 2008 and the Bradford-Leeds tie attracted the best gate in the last 16 since 2015.

Mark Foster, the RFL’s chief commercial officer, said: “It has been a great weekend for the Coral Challenge Cup, and a reminder of why the competition is so special for the game.

“The Bradford-Leeds tie on Saturday afternoon in particular generated a memorable occasion at Odsal which was seen by an excellent audience on BBC1 – and that was followed by two exciting ties at Warrington and Huddersfield, shown by the BBC and Sky Sports respectively, which took our aggregate viewing figures for the weekend beyond two million.

“It’s exciting for Bradford, Halifax and the Championship competition that the BBC will be back at Odsal for their quarter-final in the knowledge that the winners will become the first non-Super League club to reach the semi finals for 13 years.”

The RFL have also confirmed the implications of Bulls’ and Halifax’s progress for the 1895 Cup, the new knockout competition for Championship and League One clubs that will also culminate in a Wembley final on Saturday August 24.

Both clubs will play their second-round 1895 Cup ties – Bradford at Barrow Raiders and Halifax at home to Sheffield Eagles – on the Wednesday following the Challenge Cup quarter-final, June 5.

If either Bradford or Halifax reach the semi-finals of both the Coral Challenge Cup and the 1895 Cup, which are scheduled for consecutive days on July 27 and 28, their 1895 Cup semi-final will be put back to the following Wednesday, July 31 - providing a second chance to reach Wembley if they lose the Challenge Cup semi-final.

If Bradford or Halifax become the first lower division team to reach the Challenge Cup final in the competition’s 123-year history, their place in the second 1895 Cup semi-final will be taken by the losers of the Challenge Cup semi-final.

Coral Challenge Cup quarter-finals: Thursday, May 30 – Hull FC v Catalans Dragons (7.35pm, live on Sky Sports), Friday, May 31 – Hull KR v Warrington Wolves (7.35pm, live on Sky Sports), Saturday, June 1 – St Helens v Wakefield Trinity (3.15pm, live on BBC1), Sunday, June 2 – Bradford Bulls v Halifax (245pm, live on BBC2, followed by semi final draw).