Bulldogs Impress in Season Opener

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HALIFAX PANTHERS 6-19 BATLEY BULLDOGS

Keith McGhie, The Shay, Saturday

ANY harsh words that coach Craig Lingard may have spoken after his side’s pre-season performance at Featherstone certainly had the desired effect as the Bulldogs responded to earn a thoroughly deserved place in next weekend’s second round.

Lingard was equally forthcoming with his praise this week as his charges came up with a totally committed defensive display that frustrated Halifax and ultimately gained the visitors a first win in four attempts at the Shay, dating back to early 2016.

Tries from newboys Jack Logan and Jodie Broughton plus a vital ‘nerve calmer’ by ex-Fax hooker Ben Kaye weres enough to clinch the win but it was at the other end of the park that a tight and occasionally error-strewn match was really won.

The Panthers, with that wonderful run to the semi-finals less than two years ago still fresh in the memory, gave competitive debuts to Connor Robinson, Liam Harris, Nick Rawsthorne, Dan Murray and Gadwin Springer.

Their West Yorkshire rivals paraded six new acquisitions in Jodie Broughton, Tom Gilmore, Kieran Buchanan, Josh Tonk, Logan and student world cup star Elliot Hall, whilst the Bulldogs included several ex-Fax players, although potentially two of the most significant – Dane Manning and Anthony Bowman – along with the club captain James Brown, were ruled out through injury.

But former Shay favourites Kaye, Broughton, Gilmore and Ben White did take to the field for the men from Mount Pleasant, for whom off the bench captain Alistair Leak was rewarded for his seven year stint the club with a 150th appearance.

For almost half an hour it was stalemate with Fax skipper Brandon Moore and Murray, starting his second stint with the Shaymen, going closest to breaking the deadlock with drives in quick succession to within half a yard of the whitewash.

Jacob Fairbank broke but lost possession 20 metres further forward, as Luke Hooley was forced off after suffering a blow to the nose in the tackle.

The impressive Dale Morton was taken out after a high kick from White and the offended against Batley back took the opportunity to edge the first ever winners of the Challenge Cup ahead with the penalty just before the half-hour mark.

Within two minutes Morton broke free down the right wing and Logan was on hand to cover the last 40 metres and score beside the posts.

Morton added his second goal in as many minutes to give the visitors an 8-0 half time lead.

Ten minutes after the restart Buchanan plucked the a high ball from a defender’s grasp and fed Broughton who scored but Morton’s kick agonisingly struck the near  upright and bounced out, meaning Fax were potentially still only two scores adrift.

The hosts quickly took advantage as a Harris kick wasn’t dealt with and Matt Garside pounced to help halve the deficit as Robinson added the conversion.

Fax piled forward looking for more and only a brilliant tackle prevented Scott Grix grounding in the corner when Fax attacked down the left with a three on one man advantage.

It seemed the now backs-against-the-wall Bulldogs would have to score again and Kaye, left at first receiver after an earlier drive, obliged with a close range try 13 minutes from time. Robinson threatened once more when Moore and Murray created an opening but again a last ditch hand dislodged the ball and White finally sealed Batley’s passage with a late one-pointer.

GAMESTAR: Josh Tonks – Described by his coach as “outstanding” in epitomising the all-effort Bulldogs display to edge the honour from Dale Morton and Tom Gilmour

GAMEBREAKER: Batley couldn’t relax until the Ben White drop goal went over as Halifax still threatened.

Match Report courtesy of League Express

Drop Goal: White (67)

SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-2, 0-8, 0-12, 6-12, 6-18, 6-19

Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match:

Panthers: Josh Tonks

Bulldogs: Gadwin Springer

Penalty count:  2-5

Six again: 4-2

Half-time: 0-8

Referee: Ben Thaler

Promising Signs for Lingard

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Craig Lingard’s men finished well in their second and final warm up fixture against promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers.

The Bulldogs had the worst possible start as Rovers took an early lead with 2 quick tries, Chisholm adding a 3rd before Elliot Hall struck for the visitors just before the break. The second half was a similar story with the hosts adding a further 3 scores before Batley worked their way back into the game.

An excellent move down the blindside involving Gilmore, Hooley and Hall was finished in style by Alistair Leak. Moments later a similar move saw a try ruled out for a forward pass, before the impressive Hall added his second after scooping up a loose ball close to his own line and racing away from the chasing pack for a comfortable finish. Dale Morton adding the conversions.

A difficult test for the Bulldogs against this highly fancied Featherstone side, but a number of stand out performances will have pleased Head Coach Lingard, and given the coaching staff food for thought ahead of next Saturday’s season opener, away to Hhalifax in the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Rovers 36-16 Bulldogs.

Photographs by Dan Winner. Copyright Batley Bulldogs.

20 more Betfred Championship matches scheduled for Our League coverage

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The Betfred Championship clubs have agreed a fixture schedule for rounds two to four of the competition from April 17 – May 2 which will allow another 20 matches to be streamed on Our League.

The schedule includes the first home game of the season for Toulouse Olympique against London Broncos on Saturday April 17, a derby between Bradford Bulls and Halifax Panthers the following day, and consecutive home fixtures for Championship newcomers Newcastle Thunder against Sheffield Eagles on April 24 and Batley Bulldogs on May 2.

All of these games will once again be shown on Our League, free to the Season Ticket Holders of the home club, with all fans able to watch on Pay Per View.

Streaming passes will go on sale in the next couple of weeks, after the initial block of pre-season matches and the First Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Day and weekend passes will again be made available at £15 and £20, and with the same Earlybird offer of £4-95 for each game.

The full schedule for the first four rounds of the Betfred Championship is listed below. There is one change to the opening round, with Halifax Panthers’ home game against London Broncos brought forward to Good Friday with a 5pm kick-off.

All profit from these PPV games goes to the participating clubs – allowing them to make up crucial lost income from having to play matches behind closed doors in the early stages of the 2021 season.

To see the list of fixtures that will be streamed in the next three weeks, click here Rugby-League.com (rugby-league.com)

 

Betfred Championship, Round One: 

Good Friday, April 2: Halifax Panthers v London Broncos (5pm), 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), Newcastle Thunder v Widnes Vikings (515pm)

 

Betfred Championship, Round Two

Sat 17 April 12:45 Batley Bulldogs Oldham
Sat 17 April 15:00 Toulouse Olympique London Broncos
Sat 17 April 17:15 Widnes Vikings Dewsbury Rams
Sun 18 April 12:45 Swinton Lions Featherstone Rovers
Sun 18 April 15:00 Whitehaven Newcastle Thunder
Sun 18 April 17:15 Bradford Bulls Halifax Panthers
Sun 18 April 19:30 York City Knights Sheffield Eagles

 

Betfred Championship, Round Three

Sat 24 April 14:00 London Broncos Oldham
Sat 24 April 16:00 Batley Bulldogs Widnes Vikings
Sun 25 April 12:45 Swinton Lions York City Knights
Sun 25 April 15:00 Featherstone Rovers Whitehaven
Sun 25 April 15:00 Halifax Panthers Toulouse Olympique
Sun 25 April 17:15 Newcastle Thunder Sheffield Eagles
Sun 25 April 19:30 Bradford Bulls Dewsbury Rams

 

Betfred Championship, Round Four

Sat 1 May 12:45 Oldham Halifax Panthers
Sat 1 May 15:00 Sheffield Eagles London Broncos
Sun 2 May 12:45 Newcastle Thunder Batley Bulldogs
Sun 2 May 15:00 Whitehaven Bradford Bulls
Sun 2 May 17:15 Widnes Vikings Swinton Lions
Sun 2 May 19:30 Dewsbury Rams York City Knights

 

Betfred Challenge Cup, First Round:

Friday March 19 – Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights (7:45pm live from Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster – coverage on thesportsman.com).

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 live on BBC Sport and iPlayer. Swinton Lions v Newcastle Thunder (515pm, live on Our League – Pay Per View).

Bulldogs Edged Out in Entertaining Opener

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Craig Lingard’s Bulldogs fell to a narrow defeat to rivals Dewsbury Rams in an entertaining fixture at The Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

Jodie Broughton opened the scoring or the home side, before Dewsbury hit back soon after. The lead then switched hands regularly before the visitors ran out winners.

After 12 months without any match action at all, both sets of players deserve huge praise for their efforts on the day, with enterprising Rugby League on show.

The Bulldogs now move on to their second and final warm up fixture at Featherstone next Saturday, 1.30pm Kick Off.

Match Pictures by Dan Winner Copyright Batley Bulldogs

Play-Off Structures for Betfred Championship and League 1

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Both the Betfred Championship and League 1 will have six appeal this season, with clubs aiming to finish in the top six of each competition to qualify for promotion play-offs.

The Betfred Championship, which kicks off over the Easter weekend at the start of next month, will adopt the same top six play-off system which was used in the Betfred Super League in 2020.

That means the top two in the final table will earn a bye through the first round of the play-offs before playing the winners of sudden death fixtures between teams three to six – and the winners of those two semi finals will meet in the Million Pound Game to determine promotion to the Betfred Super League in 2022.

The games will be played over a three-week period from September 25 to October 10, and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

In Betfred League 1, which kicks off in May, the team finishing top of the table will earn automatic promotion. The teams finishing second to sixth will play in a five-team play-off series culminating in a Promotion Play-Off Final.

That will run for four weeks, starting the weekend before the Championship play-offs (September 18-19).

Clubs will be required to have played 70% of their league fixtures (16 out of 22 in the Betfred Championship) to qualify for the play-offs.

The bottom two teams in the Betfred Championship will be relegated – irrespective of how many fixtures they have played.

The clubs had already agreed that league positions will be determined by points percentage – again, as in the Betfred Super League in 2020.

This is to allow for the possibility of teams being forced to withdraw from fixtures because of Covid-19 – they will be allowed to do so if seven or more players are ruled out either after testing positive, or as close contacts of a positive test following test and trace analysis.

The RFL and clubs will attempt to rearrange postponed fixtures where possible, but there are very limited opportunities to do this given the delayed start to the season, and the impracticality of midweek fixtures.

There are specific challenges around the involvement of Toulouse Olympique in the Betfred Championship following the latest changes around quarantine for elite sports teams returning to the UK from France – and an announcement about the impact on Toulouse’s early-season fixtures will be made in the coming days.

The clubs had also already agreed to remove golden point for the 2021 season, to reduce the demands on players who will have gone almost a year without competitive action, and many of whom are part-time.

Details of the fixtures and streaming schedule for rounds 2-4 in the Betfred Championship will be released soon.

Betfred Championship, Round 1 fixtures:

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 (tbc), Dewsbury Rams v Whitehaven (730pm).

Easter Sunday, April 4: Sheffield Eagles v Bradford Bulls (1245pm), Halifax Panthers v London Broncos (3pm), Newcastle Thunder v Widnes Vikings (515pm).

All matches streamed live on Our League, for early bird price of £4.95, with day and weekend passes available – details here Rugby-League.com (rugby-league.com)

Betfred League 1, Round 1 fixtures:

Saturday May 8: London Skolars v North Wales Crusaders (330pm)

Sunday May 9 (all 3pm): Coventry Bears v Barrow Raiders, Hunslet v Workington Town, Keighley Cougars v Doncaster, Rochdale Hornets v West Wales Raiders.

(details of Our League coverage tbc)

Hats Off to Our Medical Team

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How are The Bulldogs Keeping Safe?

We’re less than a week from our planned return to action, which will come just one day short of exactly a year since the boys last took the the field, on March 7th 2020 in Toulouse.

After starting pre-season in late November an hoping against hop for an early return, things once again came to a halt in late December. However a change in the guidance allowed our clubs to return to limited training and with a star fast approaching and fixtures in the diary, we can all look forward to seeing The Bulldogs take to the field very soon.

The coaching staff have worked tirelessly to keep things organised, staff at the club also. But every club has unsung heroes, those people rarely see. The ability to return is due in no small measure to the fantastic work carried out by our medical staff.

Ally Briggs and Tom Pearson are at each session at the club, their work at the best of times is priceless, but the need to comply with safety procedures at this time is greater than ever. Attendance at training is registered, for authorised persons only, and all those attending are tested twice weekly.

Without Ally and Tom and their extra efforts, safe trainmg would be a huge challenge and matches unlikely. Take 5 minutes to have a look at how they work & hear how our Covid Procedures are making sure we can be back as soon as possible.

Join the RL World Cup Power Squad

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RECORD NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR TRAILBLAZING RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP 2021 POWER SQUAD

The recruitment of 2,000 volunteers for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in England opened for applications at 08:00am on 25 February 2021 via: volunteers.rlwc2021.com

  • Rugby League World Cup 2021 are recruiting 2,000 volunteers to be part of ‘The Power Squad’.
  • Applications open at 08:00am 25 February 2021 and remain open until 20:21pm 23 April 2021.
  • Volunteer numbers will exceed previous RLWC events in the UK and around the world including Rugby League World Cup 2013 and 2017.
  • The Power Squad will be the faces of the tournament and will carry out a variety of roles on all 61 match days at 21 venues across 18 host town and cities, as well as supporting on non-match days.

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is presenting a record number of volunteering opportunities with the chance to be part of the biggest and best ever Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) when applications to join ‘The Power Squad’ open at 08:00am on 25 February 2021.

The Power Squad will be made up of 2,000 volunteers who will be the faces of the tournament, showcasing the values of Rugby League as well as welcoming the world to England when the 16th edition of this historic global event kicks off in the autumn.

With hundreds of thousands expected to attend matches and World Cup activations happening across England – and millions more watching around the world – the RLWC2021 team are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to deliver an exceptional Rugby League World Cup experience for both fans and players.

At twenty-one venues across eighteen host towns The Power Squad will play a key role in the delivery of the six-week tournament with a range of roles, including transport, spectator services, accreditation, way-finding, media, content and broadcast support.

Recruitment will be open on 25 February 2021 at 08:00am through an online application process and will conclude at 20:21pm on 23 April 2021. The programme features a dedicated interview process followed by comprehensive training for successful candidates.

The Power Squad will experience the unique atmosphere of the Rugby League World Cup, gaining important skills, meeting new people, and contributing to a world-class global event.

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021, said: “The Power Squad programme will be the biggest volunteer squad ever assembled for a Rugby League event. We want to engage with all ages, genders and communities and build on the incredible passion for volunteering at major events in England.”

“The UK has a fantastic volunteer network which we hope to tap into. A successful tournament cannot be run without our Power Squad and we hope to welcome many new people to the ever-growing Rugby League family to experience the passion, pride and community spirit of the sport.”

RLWC2021 ambassadors Lois Forsell and Robbie Hunter-Paul will support the launch of The Power Squad application period as well as joining the rest of the RLWC2021 Ambassador Squad at the interview sessions and training days to pass on their knowledge of playing in a sporting event of this scale.

Former England star Lois Forsell said: “I urge everyone in and around the RLWC2021 host towns and cities to take up this opportunity and apply to be a volunteer at international Rugby League’s showpiece event.”

“There is no better chance to be the face of a global tournament in England and with that comes a unique opportunity to play an important role in the biggest and best ever Rugby League World Cup.”

Robbie Hunter-Paul who helped New Zealand reach the final of the World Cup in 2000, added: “As a player you always highly appreciate the work that the volunteers do to provide a platform for greatness on the field of play – without a dedicated team of volunteers the tournament wouldn’t be a success.”

“There is a real correlation between good mental fitness and new challenges and opportunities. In a time when the world is deprived of opportunities like this RLWC2021 is a beacon of light and being part of The Power Squad and experiencing the power of together to make memories that will last forever is really special.”

Candidates must be available for a minimum of three shifts across the tournament and available to attend training sessions in the summer as well as being 18 or above by the 1 September 2021

Apply or find out more information on The Power Squad programme for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 here: volunteers.rlwc2021.com

Follow all the latest news  via www.RLWC2021.com and the official social media channels, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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