European glory up for grabs for Championship clubs
The cream of Rugby League talent from the Co-operative Championship and the French Elite Division will go head to head in June for the right to be crowned European club champions.
English clubs Featherstone Rovers, Sheffield Eagles, Leigh Centurions and Halifax will also be playing for national pride when they compete against the Toulouse Olympique and the three highest ranked clubs from the French domestic competition over the weekend of June 2 and 3.
The tournament, the Anglo-French Challenge, will pit Featherstone, the 2011 Championship champions, against the 2012 French Federation winners for the European club title.
And, in an innovative move, the strongest semi-professional Rugby League competition in Europe will be determined by the results of the four-match series. Should the Anglo-French Challenge end 2-2, the best competition will be determined by aggregating the combined points scored in all four matches, two of which will be played in England with two taking place across the Channel.
Both Featherstone and Leigh, who will place the third-placed French club, have home advantage whilst Halifax and Sheffield will play their matches in France.
The identity of the three clubs who will join Toulouse in participating in the inaugural Anglo-French Challenge will be determined later this month when the French domestic season reaches a conclusion.
RFL Director of European Development Niel Wood said the Anglo-French Challenge would build on the relationship that has developed in recent years following the involvement of Toulouse in the Co-operative Championship and French clubs in the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
“This innovative tournament allows us to continue the close connection between the Championships and the French Elite Division, as well as celebrate the success of the clubs involved,” said Wood.
“I am certain that the players, officials and most importantly the fans will love the competition.”
French Federation President Nicolas Larrat said: “It is very important that we encourage competition between the two countries, at both Super League and Championship level and between the national teams.
“I am sure that the Anglo-French Challenge will be a big success among the players and supporters from both countries.”
Details of fixtures and kick-off times will be confirmed following the conclusion of the French Elite Division season.