Jack Logan Joins Bulldogs

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The Bulldogs have moved to capture exciting outside back Jack Logan.

The former Hull FC man made over 40 appearances for the Super League outfit, with a thrilling Hat-Trick against their arch rivals in the Hull Derby making him a firm fans favourite.

With spells at Toronto Wolfpack and Doncaster, Jack also has good experience outside of Super League to add to an all round knowledge of the professional game.

He joins his former FC colleague Kieran Buchanan at The Fox’s Biscuits Stadium and Bulldogs Coach Craig Lingard is delighted to add more depth to his squad.

“Jack is a really exciting talent. Very powerful and with speed to burn, we’re thrilled to have him join us at Batley.”

Jack himself told us “It all happened really quickly. I spoke to Kieran early in the week and he put me in touch with Linners. 24 Hours later there was a deal signed. I’m very excited to be here and can’t wait to get going. Everyone has been really welcoming”

It was key to be able to move quickly, and the flexibility the club had owes a big part to the fantastic support given to the Half-Time Draws, with funds raised now reaching over £30,000.

With the first fixtures now in the diary and the squad really falling into place, we can finally start to look forward to Rugby League being back in our plans.

Look out for our full interview with Jack tomorrow morning.

It’s Time!

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It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. Almost a year to the day since the boys last took the field in Toulouse, Rugby League at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium is back as The Bulldogs & Rams go Head to Head the first warm up fixture of the new campaign.

The early fixtures at least will have to be behind closed doors, as the clubs are doing all we can to keep players and staff safe, and adhere to current restrictions. But plans are underway to stream the fixture Live using the Our League app.

Head Coach Craig Lingard is thrilled to be taking his squad into action again. “Of course there have been more pressing issues than sport over the past year, but sport is important to so many people. We’re really looking forward to the challenge and hope this is the first step toward Rugby League with supporters once again.”

Full details to follow as soon as we know more!

Spring streaming bonanza to kick off the 2021 season

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The 2021 Rugby League season will begin with a feast of Betfred Challenge Cup action next month as all eight First Round ties will be streamed across three platforms.
And it will be a similar story when the Betfred Championship kicks off over the Easter weekend two weeks later, with all seven fixtures in the opening round available to watch through Our League, on both web & app – and now with the option to cast to TV to enjoy all the action on the big screen.
That means a Super Saturday on March 20, with four Challenge Cup fixtures streamed back to back on Our League – followed by another three live-streamed ties on Sunday March 21, with the BBC expanding their First Round coverage to show West Wales Raiders versus Widnes Vikings as well as the heavyweight West Yorkshire battle between Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls.
There will be another triple header on Easter Sunday, as Our League streams three consecutive Championship fixtures from 1245pm to 7pm: Sheffield Eagles versus Bradford Bulls, Halifax Panthers v London Broncos, and Newcastle Thunder’s return to the competition against Widnes Vikings.
With early-season fixtures expected to be played behind closed doors, all Our League matches will be free to season ticket holders of the home club, with special Early Bird offers for all other supporters meaning fans can watch games for only £4.95 – as well as Day and Weekend Passes offering some great value for money deals (full details below).

Sheffield Eagles and York City Knights will have the honour of kicking off the 2021 Rugby League season with their Betfred Challenge Cup First Round tie on Friday March 19.
The clash between Mark Aston’s Eagles – who famously won the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 1998, and returned to win the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in 2019 – and James Ford’s highly-fancied York team has been selected by the new tournament sponsors, Betfred, for live online coverage – with further details to follow next week.
Super Saturday (March 20) begins at 1245pm with Oldham versus Barrow Raiders, followed by London Broncos v Keighley Cougars (3pm), Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams (515m) and finally Halifax’s first game as the Panthers, against Batley Bulldogs at The Shay (730pm).
On Sunday lunchtime the focus switches to West Wales, with the former rugby union international Gavin Henson and the former England rugby league international Rangi Chase hoping to make their debuts for the Raiders against Widnes at Stebonheath Park (1245pm).
That will be followed by the Featherstone-Bradford tie, also streamed by the BBC, with the First Round completed by Newcastle’s trip to Heywood Road to face Swinton Lions (515pm) on Our League.

The Betfred Championship campaign will begin on Good Friday with Oldham and Swinton Lions renewing their traditional Easter rivalry (515pm), followed by a West Yorkshire battle between Featherstone Rovers and Batley Bulldogs (730pm).
There are two more games on Easter Saturday, as York City Knights play their first game at the new LNER Stadium against Toulouse Olympique (515pm) before Dewsbury face Whitehaven for the second time in a fortnight, this time at the Tetley’s Stadium (730pm).
With the remaining three games on Easter Sunday, there will be no clashes with the Betfred Super League programme that weekend – meaning fans can watch more matches over Easter than ever.
Details of the Second Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, which will be played on the weekend of March 27-28, will be confirmed after the First Round ties, while detailed arrangements for further rounds of the Betfred Championship in April will be delayed until there is further clarity on the timetable for the return of fans to grounds.

Betfred Challenge Cup, First Round:
Friday March 19 – Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights (7:45pm live from Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster – coverage tbc).
Saturday March 20 – Oldham v Barrow Raiders (1245pm), London Broncos v Keighley Cougars (3pm), Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams (515pm), Halifax Panthers v Batley Bulldogs (730pm) – all matches live on Our League, free to home season ticket holders, otherwise Pay Per View (see link and details below).
Sunday March 21 – West Wales Raiders v Widnes Vikings (1245pm), Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls (3pm) – both streamed live on BBC. Swinton Lions v Newcastle Thunder (515pm, live on Our League, free to home season ticket holders, otherwise Pay Per View – see link and details below .

Betfred Championship, Round One:
Good Friday, April 2: Oldham v Swinton Lions (515pm), Featherstone Rovers v Batley Bulldogs (730pm).
Easter Saturday, April 3: York City Knights v Toulouse Olympique (515pm), Dewsbury Rams v Whitehaven (730pm).
Easter Sunday, April 4: Sheffield Eagles v Bradford Bulls (1245pm, Keepmoat Stadium), Halifax Panthers v London Broncos (3pm), Newcastle Thunder v Widnes Vikings (515pm)
All 7 matches live on Our League, free to home season ticket holders, otherwise Pay Per View – see link and details below.

Our League 2021
Matches played behind closed doors in both the First Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup and Round One of the Betfred Championship will be available to watch either through Betfred or the BBC, or through the RFL’s Our League Web & App.
Our League fixtures will be free to season ticket holders of the home club.
Season Ticket Holders will receive their access codes ahead of the first fixture directly from their club.
Other Rugby League fans – including supporters of the away club – will be able to secure the live coverage for an Early Bird price of £4.95, which increases to £10 on the day of the match.
A Day Pass will cost £15 and secure live coverage of all fixtures on a given day (for example four Betfred Challenge Cup ties on Saturday March 20).
A Weekend Pass will cost £20 and secure live coverage of all the matches being shown on Our League in a full round (for example five of the eight Betfred Challenge Cup ties on March 20-21, and all seven matches in Round One of the Betfred Championship from April 2-4).
For full details and to buy your tickets, click here : https://www.rugby-league.com/livestream

Easter return for the Betfred Championship

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The Betfred Championship will return after a year’s absence over the Easter weekend in April with a new club in Newcastle Thunder, a new name in Halifax Panthers, and a superb new stadium in York.

Thunder, who were elevated from Betfred League 1 last December to take the Championship place vacated by Leigh’s promotion to the Super League, will kick off at Kingston Park with an attractive fixture against Widnes Vikings – meaning all manner of reunions, as the Newcastle brains trust of Denis Betts and Eamon O’Carroll both have strong links with Widnes, while the new Vikings coach Simon Finnigan left Thunder to take up that position last year.

Halifax’s first game following their rebrand as the Panthers will be a tough one against Danny Ward’s London Broncos at The Shay.

Meanwhile York City Knights, who have made a number of eyecatching signings with considerable Super League experience including Ryan Atkins, Adam Cuthbertson and Ben Jones-Bishop, will play their first competitive fixture at the 8,500-capacity LNER Community Stadium against a Toulouse Olympique team whose new recruits include the former France and Catalans Dragons captain Remi Casty.

The opening round of fixtures also includes a traditional Easter derby between Oldham and Swinton Lions, while Featherstone Rovers will host Batley Bulldogs, Whitehaven travel to Dewsbury Rams, and John Kear’s Bradford Bulls face the club he guided to famous Wembley victory in 1998, Sheffield Eagles – with that game to be played at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster where the Eagles will be based for 2021 before a planned return to Sheffield in 2022.

Doncaster will kick off their Betfred League 1 campaign on the weekend of May 8-9 at Keighley Cougars, when the other opening round fixtures include Hunslet hosting Workington Town, the promotion favourites Barrow Raiders travelling to Coventry Bears, London Skolars taking on North Wales Crusaders, and a trip to Rochdale Hornets for the West Wales Raiders – who have declared their ambition by signing the former Wales rugby union international Gavin Henson, and the former England league international Rangi Chase.

The Betfred Championship season comprises 22 rounds of fixtures running until the weekend of September 19, with each of the 14 teams playing nine of the other 13 twice and the other four once. The Summer Bash will not be played in 2021 because of the expectation that crowds will have to be socially-distanced and therefore limited when fans are permitted to return.

In Betfred League 1, there will be a full home and away programme producing 18 rounds of fixtures ending one week earlier than the Championship, on the weekend of September 12.

Following a meeting of Championship and League 1 clubs with the RFL last week, it has been agreed that positions on the league table in each competition will be determined by points percentage, as in the Betfred Super League in 2020.

This is to recognise the likelihood of fixtures being affected by Covid-19, with postponements permitted if a team loses seven or more players for Covid-related reasons – either players with positive tests, or who have been ruled out through test and trace analysis of close contacts in matches or training.

The first option will be for matches to be rearranged on a free date – but if this is not possible, the fixture will be cancelled.

It has also been determined to suspend Golden Point Extra Time for drawn matches for the 2021 season, following concerns expressed at the meeting for the welfare of players who will have gone more than a year since their last fixture, and the majority of whom are part-time. The intention is to reintroduce Golden Point for the 2022 campaign.

Now that the fixtures have been released for the regular season of the Betfred Championship and the draw made for the First and Second Rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup, the RFL will work with all clubs, broadcasters and streaming partners over the next week to confirm when over the Easter Weekend the opening round Championship games will be played and also confirm the exact day and kick-off time for all First Round games of the Challenge Cup.

Betfred Championship games that are played behind closed doors will be live streamed on the Our League app & website with home season ticket holders given free access to their club’s live stream and all other fans able watch via Pay Per View.  Some Betfred Challenge Cup games will be live streamed by the BBC and Betfred with others available on Our League.

The exact day and kick-off time for the games in Round Two onwards of the Betfred Championship will be confirmed in the coming weeks when it is hoped that Government announcements will have given a clearer indication of when fans will be able to return to stadiums.

Betfred Championship Opening Round (Easter weekend, April 2-5 – dates and kick-off times tbc): Dewsbury Rams v Whitehaven, Featherstone Rovers v Batley Bulldogs, Halifax Panthers v London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder v Widnes Vikings, Oldham v Swinton Lions, Sheffield Eagles v Bradford Bulls, York City Knights v Toulouse Olympique.

Betfred League 1 Opening Round (May 8-9 – – dates and kick-off times tbc): Coventry Bears v Barrow Raiders, Hunslet v Workington Town, Keighley Cougars v Doncaster, London Skolars v North Wales Crusaders, Rochdale Hornets v West Wales Raiders.

Half Time Draw reaches £30k

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The support for our Half-Time Draw since the season suspension has been incredible, and now we’ve hit the £30,000 thanks your generosity. With this week’s draw sponsored by the Bulldogs Supporters Facebook Group, Chairman Kevin Nicholas has issued a plea for help towards vital equipment to keep training in place and as safe as possible for the squad.

Full details form Kevin here.

 

A clear focus for The Bulldogs

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A return to action grew one step closer with a definite focus as the draw for rounds 1 and 2 of the Betfred Challenge Cup took place on Thursday evening. The Bulldogs facing a difficult trip to Halifax Panthers in what should be a thrilling opening encounter. The winner of the tie will face either Featherstone Rovers or Bradford Bulls in Round 2.

Although almost certainly to be played behind closed doors, it’s a date to build towards ad hopefully the beginning of the a move towards games with supporters in the future.

The aim is for the initial games to be streamed live, though plans to cover this are still being discussed.

Bulldogs Head Coach Craig Lingard and his backroom staff have been working tirelessly to organise training in as safe an environment as possible, with Covid Testing each week at the stadium and strict rules in place, and is now looking forward to the task ahead as the hard work so far finally has a focus.

Hear his thoughts on the draw, the build up, and an online Q&A to come in the near future.

Betfred Challenge Cup Draw 11th February

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Betfred have secured the Rugby League “Double” for 2021, with a one-year deal to become title sponsors of the Challenge Cup to add to their long-running partnership with the Super League.

It means the Betfred Challenge Cup winners will be crowned at Wembley in July, with the Betfred Super League trophy to be presented at Old Trafford in October.

The deal also includes sponsorship of the Women’s Challenge Cup, completing another double with the Betfred Women’s Super League.

And Betfred will complete an historic Challenge Cup treble in 2021 as they will become the first title partners of the Wheelchair Rugby League Challenge Cup.

All three Challenge Cups are currently held by Leeds Rhinos, whose Men’s team beat Salford Red Devils at Wembley last October to follow the triumphs of their Women’s and Wheelchair teams in 2019.

The Betfred Challenge Cup is set to kick off the 2021 Rugby League season on the weekend of March 21, with eight ties involving clubs from Betfred Championship and League 1 – before the 12 Betfred Super League clubs enter at the Third Round stage on the weekend of April 11.

The draw for the First and Second Rounds will be held next Thursday (February 11).

The Quarter Finals are scheduled for the weekend of May 8-9, and the Semi Finals on June 5, leading to the Final at Wembley on Saturday July 17.

Details of the Betfred Women’s and Wheelchair Challenge Cups for 2021 will be announced soon.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “We are excited to announce an extension of Rugby League’s partnership with Betfred to include the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Challenge Cups in 2021.

“The Challenge Cup is Rugby League’s oldest knockout competition and even in the challenging circumstances of 2020, we were reminded of its enduring appeal with a national television audience of 1.6m watching Leeds Rhinos beat Salford Red Devils in the first – and hopefully last – Final played behind closed doors.

“The Women’s and Wheelchair competitions are more recent additions to the Rugby League landscape but already they have a history of memorable moments, and after the frustrations of 2020 I know all our players and clubs will be relishing the prospect of returning in 2021.

“Betfred have already shown their commitment to Women’s Rugby League by becoming the first title partners of the Betfred Women’s Super League in 2019, a reflection of the growing prestige of that competition.

“I’m especially pleased that they will also become the first title partners for the Wheelchair Challenge Cup, and at the RFL we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with them to increase the profile of all three of our Challenge Cups – building on their support for the Women’s Super League and also Betfred Championship and League 1.

“This follows the recent confirmation of an enhanced three-year extension of the BBC’s long-term relationship with the Challenge Cup which also includes coverage of the Women’s and Wheelchair competitions.

“We are convinced that sport will play a key role in the regional and national recovery from Covid through 2021, and determined that Rugby League and the three Betfred Challenge Cups will be a big part of that story.”

Betfred boss Fred Done said: “I am delighted to be able to announce further support for the sport of Rugby League in what are incredibly difficult times. The Challenge Cup obviously has a rich heritage and I was also very keen to include both the Women’s Challenge Cup and the Wheelchair Challenge Cup in what is such an important year for the whole sport culminating with the World Cup in October/November.”

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The RFL commissioned a new trophy for the Wheelchair Challenge Cup in the winter of 2019-20, from the trophy specialists Fattorini who created the trophy for the original Challenge Cup in 1896-7, and more recently a new Women’s Challenge Cup which was presented for the first time to Leeds in 2019.

Hopes for a Return Date

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Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs have targeted the weekend of March 21 as the return date for professional Rugby League outside the Betfred Super League – which will be one year and one week since they were last in action.
Just as the last Rugby League played before the first National Lockdown in March 2020 was in the Challenge Cup, the game is due to return with the First Round of the 2021 Challenge Cup featuring all 13 UK clubs from the Betfred Championship, plus three from League 1 (* – further details below).

That will be followed by the Second Round the following weekend, with the winners of those four ties earning a double reward – a place in the Third Round of the Challenge Cup when the 12 Betfred Super League clubs join the competition on the weekend of April 10-11, and also in the semi finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in June, meaning they will be 80 minutes away from a place at Wembley on July 17.

The Betfred Championship will kick off from April 2-4 – the Easter weekend – and run until a Top Six Play-Off Series in September and October.

Each team will play nine of the other 13 teams twice, and the other four once, in the 22-round formula that has been agreed with the clubs – with a decision to be made on a possible 23rd round in the Summer Bash in the coming weeks.

Clubs have already agreed that games played behind closed doors will be streamed live on the RFL’s Our League platforms (app & website) on a pay per view basis, allowing supporters to watch fixtures even if they cannot attend in person – with home season ticket holders given free access to the live stream packages for their club’s league games.
The Championship had been due to kick off on the last weekend in February, but following a short pause in training after the announcement of the latest Lockdown, the clubs agreed with the RFL that delaying the start of the season would be a sensible step given the current public health situation, and a desire to minimise the number of fixtures played behind closed doors before the return of fans to grounds.

For similar reasons, the start of Betfred League 1 has been put back until the weekend of May 8-9. This will still allow each team to play the other nine twice in an 18-round season before a Play-Off series.

Details of promotion and relegation mechanisms between the divisions will be discussed and finalised at a meeting of clubs early next month – ahead of publication of fixtures for Betfred Championship and League 1.
Details of the draw for the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup will be announced shortly. The three Betfred League 1 clubs due to enter are Barrow Raiders, Keighley Cougars and West Wales Raiders.

*Given the unique circumstances of 2021, and with such a lengthy period between the early Challenge Cup rounds and the start of their league season, entry to the Challenge Cup was made optional for the 10 Betfred League 1 clubs, with the RFL stressing the importance of public health and financial considerations.
The majority remained keen to enter, but that would have required an additional, preliminary round on March 14 – which led to the withdrawal of all bar Barrow, Keighley and West Wales, who will now complete a First Round of 16 clubs.

Kevin’s Update

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Kevin’s update ahead of today’s Draw.

2021 Season – Update

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The Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs considered a number of options for the 2021 season at a virtual meeting on Wednesday evening.

The consensus reached was that the Betfred Championship season could and should be delayed by several weeks from the scheduled start of late February, in recognition of the current public health situation and the likely implications on the return of fans to elite sport.

For similar reasons, the Betfred League 1 clubs were supportive of a longer delay to the start of their season, which will now begin later in the spring.

That will also allow a staggered return to training following the pause advised by the RFL last week in response to the latest Lockdown, which will also take into account the needs of players to prepare thoroughly after such a long lay-off.

Betfred Championship clubs have been cleared to return from this weekend (Saturday January 16), but initially only for “Stage 1 plus” – which permits socially distanced (non-contact) training outdoors – with the intention of moving to “Stage 2”, with contact training permitted, from February 1.

Betfred League 1 clubs will be cleared to begin a similar staged process in February – with all clubs at each level required to satisfy the RFL that that they are able to meet strict conditions regarding testing and biosecurity.

Discussions over a delayed return date for Academy and Scholarship programmes have also been held with the relevant Betfred Super League and Championship clubs this week, and all clubs, players and coaches will now be updated before an announcement in the next week.

England Women’s scheduled return to training this weekend has been postponed by a week, and further discussions will be held with Betfred Women’s Super League clubs this week about their pre-season training schedule.

Further details of the schedule for the 2021 Betfred Championship and League 1, including the early rounds of the Challenge Cup, will be published over the weekend, following further feedback from the clubs and consultation with the RFL Board – with fixture lists to follow.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “We have been grateful to our clubs throughout the last 10 months for their responsible and constructive approach to such a challenging period for all, and Wednesday’s meeting was another example of that.
There remains a desire and determination, from the RFL as well as clubs, to get back on the field as soon as is safely possible. However there is also a recognition of the need to be responsible at this time.
A staged return to pre-season training, after the short pause advised last week, followed by a staggered start to the Betfred Championship and League 1 seasons, represents the best way for us to combine this responsibility with other priorities of player welfare and the financial sustainability of our clubs.
This approach extends to the Academy and Scholarship programmes, which are so important to the future health of the game as well as the mental health of the youngsters involved – and we will confirm shortly a similar approach for the Betfred Women’s Super League.”