Capital Challenge coming soon
Rugby League returns to the capital with a bang on January 27th when London’s two professional sides, the Broncos and the Skolars go head to head in the annual Capital Challenge.
The contest, which is in its eighth year, will take place at the HAC ground in the heart of the City.
Just over a week later the newly re-named London Broncos kick off their Super League campaign against St Helens at The Twickenham Stoop, while London Skolars get their season underway against Toulouse Olympique in the Northern Rail Cup at their New River Stadium in Wood Green, on Sunday the 12th February.
The teams boast the youngest head coaches in their respective competitions with both embarking on their second seasons in charge. Joe Mbu, 28, is a former London Bronco who is relishing the prospect of his Skolars side tackling his old club.
“I tell the players that this is one of the few opportunities they will get to play against the best in the country,” said Joe. “As an athlete, it’s rare you get an opportunity to compete against the best, especially in a team sport.”
And he has fond memories of his first appearance at the HAC ground. “Travelling up with the Broncos, I couldn’t believe there was a actually a pitch there," he recalls. "It’s a memorable venue, one that stays with people who experience it for the rest of their lives.”
There will be more home grown players on show than ever making it a truly London event. Of the Broncos’ 35-man squad, 17 are from London and the South East, while the vast majority of the Skolars roster are locals.
Rob Powell, 31, had a tough first season as head coach of Quins RL, who have now reverted to their old name of London Broncos. They have made 10 new signings including Australian half back Craig Gower, a dual code international, who should all be on show at the HAC.
“It’s a good opportunity to showcase professional Rugby League in London,” said Rob. “It develops our ongoing relationship with the Skolars and I think it’s a nice way to kick off the season.
We get a lot of people there who support the game in London.
We enjoy it, it’s a good hit out for us and something we look forward to.”
As far as the setting is concerned, the Broncos’ coach believes the HAC ground is a unique place to play Rugby League. “I don’t think there’s many people around the world who will have played in such an interesting place in front of all those big skyscrapers in the City.
It shows what London Rugby League is about. It’s a bit different, it’s exciting and it’s a special place to play.”
The game kicks off at 2pm and tickets can be purchased from the London Skolars at http://www.skolarsrl.com/club-shop/match-tickets.