Northern Rail Cup 2010 fixtures released
Holders Widnes Vikings will begin their defence of the Northern Rail Cup with a home tie against Gateshead Thunder on Sunday January 31.
Other stand out ties in the first round of games that weekend include Sheffield Eagles hosting Halifax, Batley Bulldogs travelling to Whitehaven and last year’s Northern Rail Cup runners-up Barrow Raiders playing against Doncaster at Keepmoat Stadium.
The format and structure of the 2010 Northern Rail Cup competition is the same as last year. All the English-based Co-operative Championship and Championship One clubs have been divided equally into two pools for the group stages with five teams from each division in each pool.
Each team will play two home games and two away games against teams in their pool with each club playing an equal number of The Co-operative Championship and The Co-operative Championship One clubs.
The top four teams in each pool following the conclusion of the group stage fixtures will then progress into an open draw for the knock-out quarter-final stage.
The Northern Rail Cup quarter-finals will be played on the weekend of June 5 and 6 with the semi-finals taking place on June 19 and 20.
Sky Sports will televise one Northern Rail Cup quarter-final tie live on Thursday June 3 and one of the semi-finals on Thursday June 17 as well as providing full coverage of the Northern Rail Cup Final which will be played at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, on Sunday July 18.
The winners of the Northern Rail Cup will be eligible to apply for a Super League licence in 2011.
Toulouse Olympique and newly-formed South Wales RLFC will not participate in the 2010 Northern Rail Cup.
The Northern Rail 9s also return in 2010 and will again feature English Co-operative Championship and Championship One clubs not involved in the final taking part. The competition will be run on one day this season with full details to be announced shortly.
Northern Rail Cup Pool A
Northern Rail Cup Pool B