Londoners eye Tetley's Challenge Cup glory
They have grown used to making history but South West London Chargers will look to clinch a place in Rugby League folklore on Saturday when they face Torfaen Tigers in the first round of the 2014 Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
Just 12 months after being formed from the merger of South London Storm and West London Sharks, the Chargers set foot on the road that eventually leads to Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 23 with a home tie against the Welsh champions at Chiswick Rugby Club on Saturday (2.00pm).
The Chargers won the London League and Cup double in their inaugural season, when they also added the Harry Jepson Trophy to make it a perfect first year.
If they beat Torfaen, the Chargers will be just one victory away from being included in the third round draw, which is when Kingstone Press Championship opposition, such as Leigh Centurions, Workington Town and Sheffield Eagles – all past winners of Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious competition – enter the fray.
“Showing no disrespect to Torfaen Tigers, I believe that we are an equal standard to them,” said South West London Chargers President Cameron Paul. “It is a great opportunity for us, but we have got to keep ourselves grounded.
“A few West London Sharks players played in the Challenge Cup back in the 2009 competition, so a few have had a taste but it is not hard to motivate the guys – if we win two games then we could get drawn against Championship opposition.
“We’ve been training for a month now, so will be able to go out and give it a good shot. We have people from Australia and New Zealand involved in the club and they all know about the competition. It’s the Challenge Cup – it’s an honour to play in it.”
Playing in front of a few hundred fans at Chiswick Rugby Club every week is some way off the 80,000 that pack out Wembley Stadium for the showcase Tetley’s Challenge Cup final every August, but the Chargers have been making progress since building their club in central London.
“The whole reason we created South West London Chargers was because we wanted to move to a more centrally-based location,” said Paul. “People work long hours now and we have moved to an area that is 30-40 minutes away from where most people work, so they can train in the evenings.
“We have put the club on the doorstep of a lot of people. We had 40 new players, who were not part of the two former sides, involved with the club last year.
“We know that there are Rugby League fans in London, it just takes an event – like the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals – to get them out.
“We have had 10 new players join in January alone, and we are still four months away from starting our league season. I think we will have even more joining once we start the season.
“We don’t start until April, so this tie is almost bringing the curtain down on our first year. It will be a celebration of this fantastic last year, then we can say ‘what a great year, now let’s do it again.’
“A few people around the club have been talking about getting tickets for the final, but we might not need them because we could be in it!”
Admission to the Tetley’s Challenge Cup first round tie, South West London Chargers v Torfaen Tigers, at Chiswick Rugby Club on Saturday February (2.00pm) is free.
Tickets for the 2014 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 23 cost from as little as £22 and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.
The 2014 Tetley's Challenge Cup first round draw in full is as follows:
Underbank Rangers v East Leeds
Leeds Metropolitan University v Millom
Blackbrook v Egremont Rangers
Shaw Cross v Thatto Heath
Leigh Miners v Hunslet Warriors
Oulton Raiders v West Hull
Saddleworth Rangers v Milford Marlins
Kells v Wigan St Judes
Skirlaugh v Rochdale Mayfield
RAF v Dewsbury Celtic
Askam v British Army
Royal Navy v Walney Central
Myton Warriors v East Hull
Loughborough University v Great Britain Police
South West London Chargers v Torfaen Tigers
Widnes St Maries v Wigan St Pats
Pilkington Recs v Aberdeen Warriors
York Acorn v Siddal
Wath Brow Hornets v Halton Simms Cross
Woolston Rovers v Elland
Lock Lane v Normanton Knights
Hull Dockers v Bristol Sonics
Ties to be played over the weekend of February 1 and 2, 2014