Operational Rules

Section B4: Challenge Cup Comptetition Rules

B4:1 The Competition shall be known as the Challenge Cup ("the Cup") and the name shall be preceded by the name of such sponsor as the RFL may direct from time to time.

B4:2 The ownership, management and control of the Cup or such other competition if any as may in the future replace it and in all other cup competitions organised by the RFL shall be vested entirely and exclusively in the RFL.

B4:3 All Members of the RFL who are Clubs shall participate in the competition together with such other clubs or organisations as may be invited to do so by the Board from time to time. For the purposes of these Rules all references to “Clubs” shall include all Clubs which are members of the RFL and all other clubs or organisations taking part in the Competition whether based in the UK or otherwise (“Non Member Clubs”). For the purposes of this rule any non member clubs who compete in the Super League or the Championships agree to be bound as if they are Member Clubs.


B4:4 All Cup Matches ("Cup Ties") shall be played in accordance with these Operational Rules, the Laws of the Game and the Match Day Rules as set out in Section B2 of these Rules and the RFL Match Day Operations Manual save that the RFL may decide to waive Rules in Rounds prior to Round 3.


B4:5 The Cup shall be governed by the Board which shall make the draw, appoint Match Officials, fix dates upon which the Cup Ties are to be played and deal with all matters connected with or arising out of the Cup.


B4:6 For the purpose of the Challenge Cup competition, the rules regarding substitutes shall be identical to those rules, which are in place from time to time for substitutions in International matches except in the case of extra time when the procedures described in (B4:28 below) apply.


B4:7 The provisions of Operational Rules Section B1 relating to Full Strength shall also apply to Cup Ties. The squad declaration system will apply to the competition as directed by the RFL from time to time.


B4:8 It is the responsibility of the Club concerned to ensure that its players are eligible to play in the Challenge Cup competition.


In respect of any Club playing in any Round of the Cup up to and including Round 5, only players who are correctly registered and eligible to play for that Club under the Rules of the Competition in which that Club usually competes are eligible to play for that Club in a Cup Tie.

B4:9 Only Players on the Register of that Club, or subject to Rule B4:10, Dual Registered with that Club at the close of RFL business on the Monday immediately prior to the Quarter Finals of the Cup shall be eligible to play in any Quarter Final, Semi Final or Final Tie.
However nothing in this Operational Rule shall prohibit:

  1. a Player who is on a Club's Academy register; or
  2. a Player who has been on loan to a Club having his loan extended or returning to his registered Club;

playing for that Club in all or any such Matches provided that the relevant paperwork is submitted to the RFL in the format as required from time to time and provided that by playing the player would not be in breach of B4:10.

B4:10 A player who plays for one Member Club in the Cup cannot, in that same Season, play for another Club in the Cup. In this respect a Dual Registered player may play for either his Super League Club or his Championship Club but having played for one may not then play for the other.


B4:11 Only players who are not on the Register of a Member Club and who are bona fide players of the Club concerned may play for a Non Member Club in the Cup. For UK based Non Member Clubs only players who have been registered at Rugby League Services are eligible in this respect.

B4:12 A player who plays for a Non Member Club in the Cup cannot in the same Season play for another Non Member Club in the Cup. A player who has played for a Non Member Club in the Cup may play for a Member Club in a later round or rounds of the Cup provided that he is on the Register of that Club at the time set out in B4:9 above.

B4:13 Any Non Member Club that progresses to the Quarter Finals of the Cup must send a list of its eligible players to the Board no later than the Monday immediately prior to the Quarter Final round. It is the responsibility of each Club to ensure that it complies with this Operational Rule.


B4:14 Prior to each game from Round 4 onwards each Club must declare their squad in accordance with Section B1:8 prior to each match.


B4:15 In addition to any other action or penalty which may arise under Section D1 Misconduct, the Board shall disqualify any competing Club which it determines to have fielded an ineligible Player, save where the Club can show that it had no fault or negligence, in that the Club did not know or suspect, and could not reasonably have known or suspected, even with the exercise of utmost caution, that the Player was ineligible. For the avoidance of doubt where a Club is disqualified from the competition under this Rule B4:15 its most recent opponent (irrespective of the result of that match) and only its most recent opponent will be readmitted to the competition even where the offence was committed in an earlier round.


B4:16 The Cup shall be played under whatever format the Board may decide. The Board may, dependent upon the number of entries in the Cup, arrange for preliminary rounds to be played prior to the first round proper.


B4:17 The dates on which the draws are made and the dates on which the Cup Ties shall be played shall be decided by the Board. The dates on which Cup Ties shall be played shall not be varied without the prior written consent of the Board.

B4:18 Except in any game involving a French club, in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth rounds and quarter finals (and any preliminary rounds) Cup Ties shall be played on Sundays unless mutually agreed otherwise. For games involving a French club ties shall be played on Saturdays unless mutually agreed otherwise. If the home Club shall however not wish to play on Sunday (or in the case of games involving a French club on Saturday) and cannot agree an alternative date with its opponents then the Board will fix the day of the Match.

B4:19 If a Cup Tie is postponed and/or re-arranged for any reason, it is the duty of the home Club immediately to notify the Match Officials, the RFL, the media and the opposing Club. If the home Club does not notify the Match Officials or notifies them less than 3 hours before the Cup Tie is due to kick off, then it shall be responsible for any travelling expenses incurred in relation to such Cup Tie.


B4:20 Subject to Operational Rule B4:16, and unless otherwise provided for under the format of the Cup, the Club drawn first in the ballot shall have the choice of ground and:

  1. it may request to play at an alternative ground, including the ground of the opposing Club with that Club's consent; but
  2. no Club shall request or pay or make or offer to make or accept or agree to accept any monetary or other consideration (excluding the normal share of gate revenues) for choosing any ground;

and any proposed alternative choice of ground shall be notified to the Chief Executive no later than 10 days prior to the date of the Cup Tie concerned and he shall decide and notify the Clubs in writing within 48 hours of his decision as to whether or not to approve such request, which choice shall be binding on the Clubs concerned .If any Club does not comply with this Operational Rule or breaks its terms, it shall be guilty of Misconduct.

B4:21 The Board shall be entitled, notwithstanding the outcome of the ballot, to require that a particular Cup Tie:

  1. is played at a particular ground (whether or not it is the ground of either of the Clubs concerned) ;or
  2. is not played at a particular ground (whether or not it is the ground of either of the Clubs concerned) ;

in circumstances which the Board considers (following a complaint from either Club or on its own initiative) appropriate which may include but are not limited to circumstances in which the ground concerned does not comply with Challenge Cup rules or is not available.


B4:22 The ground chosen must be properly enclosed so that the public can be excluded and gate money taken and must conform to the minimum playing requirements for Cup Ties in the Cup (as set out below). From the third round of the Cup onwards, some covered accommodation for spectator viewing must be provided.

B4:23 Without prejudice to any higher standards applied to Clubs by these Operational Rules or otherwise (which higher standards shall also apply for Cup Ties) the ground used for a Cup Tie and its facilities must comply with all rules, regulations and statutes relating to Health and Safety, Safety at Sports Grounds and the safety of spectators. The playing area must be in a fit playing condition (in the referee's opinion) and comply in all respects with the Laws of the Game. In addition, the following minimum playing requirements shall apply:

  1. a clear playing area of not less than 88 metres from goal line to goal line and 55 metres from touch line to touch line;
  2. the dead ball line shall be not less than 6 metres nor more than 11 metres behind the goal line (see Operational Rule A2:10);
  3. there shall be a suitable clear margin of 3 metres along the touch lines and dead ball lines;
  4. there shall be a permanent solid barrier excluding the spectators from the playing area;

Where the playing area is larger than the minimum specified above and the ground otherwise fulfils the above requirements it must not be reduced for the purposes of the Cup. The referee may order the pitch markings to be changed if he thinks fit.

B4:24 Where the ground is not a ground designated under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act the Board may also require the host Club to appoint an occupationally competent Safety Officer to manage safety on match day.

B4:25 The ground must have separate heated changing rooms for each team (and a separate room for the Match Officials) with separate hot and cold water and showers and toilets for each team and the Match Officials. The ground must also have a covered trainer's bench or dugout for each team. An area must be available for hospitality for sponsors and visiting Club Officials. The home Club must also provide:

  1. Refreshment facilities and toilets for spectators;
  2. adequate entrances and exits; and
  3. access for emergency services.

All objections under this Operational Rule Section B4:22 to 25 must be sent to the Board no later than 8 days prior to the date of the Cup Tie concerned. The Board may cause the ground to be inspected at any time and if the report it receives makes it consider that the ground is unsuitable then it may refuse to allow a Cup Tie to be played thereon and/or may order the making of such alterations and/or improvements as it thinks fit.

FINANCE (see Section A3)



The home Club in each Cup Tie shall ensure that it has in place an adequate policy of public liability insurance for each Cup Tie.


B4:27 Subject as set out in Operational Rule Section B4:20 above any Club drawn at home may hire a ground for the Cup Tie but it shall be responsible alone for the payment of the hiring fee (whether or not this is their normal home ground). The cost of hire shall not be deductible from the gross receipts of the Cup Tie.


B4:28 Save in respect of the Final, in the event of a draw, at the end of regular time, then Cup Tie shall then be decided by a "Golden Point". During this period of Golden Point teams shall be allowed to make three additional interchanges. For the avoidance of doubt any unused interchanges from normal time are carried over and may be used in the period of Golden Point.

B4:29 Any Club failing to fulfil a Cup Tie on the scheduled date, for any reason which the Board considers unsatisfactory, will forfeit the Cup Tie.

B4:30 All Cup Ties shall take precedence over League Matches which must be postponed if the Board so directs.


B4:31 The Board shall have control of all arrangements relating to the semi-final and final of the Cup and in particular shall decide the date and venue of the semi finals and the final and the date and the venue of any replay(s) of abandoned Matches or replay of the Final and the admission charges and ticket allocations for such Cup Ties.

B4:32 As regards the semi-final, if there is a draw at the end of regular time, the procedure outlined in Section B4:28 above shall apply. As regards the Final, if there is a draw at the end of regular time then the Final shall be replayed at a date, time and venue as directed by the Board of Directors. As regards the Final replay, if there is a draw at the end of regular time, the procedure outlined in Section B4:28 above shall apply.


B4:33 If on a successful protest, made in accordance with Operational Rule Section B4:42 a replay is ordered, then the Board shall decide the ground and the date for the replay.


B4:34 Subject to Operational Rule Section B4:28 above, the duration of each Cup Tie shall be 80 minutes played in two equal halves with a normal interval of 10 minutes (to be agreed with the match official prior to kick-off) and, the time of the kick-off shall be fixed by the Clubs (except in the case of the semi-finals and Final in relation to which such times shall be fixed by the Board). If the Clubs cannot agree a kick-off time, it shall be determined by the Board.


B4:35 It shall be up to the referee to determine whether or not a Cup Tie should be abandoned. However:

  1. If a Cup Tie is abandoned, the Board will determine whether the result shall stand. If it does not stand (a "Void Tie") the Cup Tie will be re-scheduled to a date, time and venue specified by the Board. The decision of the Board in relation to the result will be final.
  2. Upon the abandonment of a Cup Tie for any reason before or during the half time interval which is subsequently declared to be a Void Tie, spectators who attended the abandoned Match shall be entitled to admission for the next playing of the Cup Tie at half price.
  3. Upon the abandonment of a Cup Tie for any reason in the second half, no concession will apply to the re-arranged Cup Tie.
  4. If, notwithstanding the abandonment of the Cup Tie, the Board declares that the result shall stand, then the division of proceeds shall be as set out in Operational Rules Section A3 as appropriate.
  5. If the Cup Tie is a Void Tie then the proceeds of that Cup Tie and of the replaying of the same shall be aggregated and the division of proceeds as hereinafter provided shall take place but the away team shall be entitled to claim its abortive travelling expenses to the Void Tie.
  6. The Board shall have the power to vary these arrangements.


B4:36 All Match Officials shall be appointed by the Board and their remuneration and expenses shall be decided by the Board.


B4:37 Any Cup Tie selected for televising shall take place at the time, date and venue determined by the Board and the Clubs agree to comply with all instructions and requirements specified by the Board in relation thereto.


B4:38 The provisions set out in Operational Rules regarding clash of colours shall apply equally to Cup Ties. The Club drawn first in the ballot shall be considered the “home” team for the purposes of playing kit save for the final for which the RFL shall issue a kit directive. Kit directives will be issued from Round 4 onwards. Prior to Round 4 Clubs are responsible for liaising prior to a match to ensure that there is no clash.


B4:39 The provisions of Operational Rules Section B2:2 and B2:3 above regarding grounds unfit for play shall also apply as regards Cup Ties.

B4:40 In the case of postponement of a Cup Tie because the ground is unfit for play, the Cup Tie shall be re-arranged for the next available date.

B4:41 If the Cup Tie cannot go ahead as scheduled or in the case of a further postponement or in the case of a dispute, the Board shall decide when and where the match will be played


B4:42 A club wishing to object to the result of a Cup Tie must:

  1. Send a facsimile letter to the Board and to the opposing Club within 24 hours of the conclusion of the Cup Tie stating:
  2. the full grounds on which the objection is made; and
  3. the Rule under which it is laid.
  4. Send within 24 hours a cheque to the Board made payable to the RFL for £100 as a deposit.

The Board shall hear the objection and may decline to consider any matter not contained in (i) above and can if the objection is not sustained order the forfeit of the whole or any part of the deposit. For the avoidance of doubt, a Club shall not be able to object to a result on the grounds of a Match Official's decision(s), and the imposition of a fine or other penalty on a Club pursuant to these Operational Rules shall not preclude a Club from objecting to a result of a Cup Tie under this Operational Rule.


B4:43 The Laws of the Game and the Operational Rules shall apply unless inconsistent with the Operational Rules of the Cup (set out herein) in which case the Laws of the Game and the Operational Rules will prevail.


B4:44 All disputes relating to the venue, time and date of any Cup Tie or the distribution and/or apportionment of expenses and/or proceeds or any other dispute relating to the Cup shall be determined by the Board in its absolute discretion unless otherwise provided for in these Operational Rules and shall not be subject to an appeal and notice of such a dispute must be communicated to the Board within 24 hours of it arising.


B4:45 The Trustees of the RFL are the owners of the Trophy which shall be handed to the winning club for safe keeping by them and shall be returned in turn to the RFL in good condition on the last working day in June in time for the following Challenge Cup Final. Subject to Operational Rule Section B4:47 below, the winning Club shall be responsible for the cost of any repairs required to ensure that the Trophy is returned to good condition. The Trustees of the RFL shall be entitled to commission such replicas of the Trophy as they may think fit from time to time.

B4:46 Each team participating in the final Cup Tie will be presented with 25 medals for their players and officials. Clubs may apply to the RFL to purchase additional medals in exceptional circumstances only. If a player is dismissed during the final and subsequently found guilty of misconduct, the medal to which he may otherwise have been entitled may be withheld at the discretion of the Board.

B4:47 The winning Club agrees not to do anything which may invalidate the RFL's insurance policy or increase the premiums in relation thereto. Should the Trophy be lost, destroyed or damaged whilst under the care or custody of the winning Club, then the Club shall refund to the RFL the amount of the insured value of the Trophy or the cost of thorough repair in addition to any other penalty which the RFL may deem fit to impose pursuant to Section D1 of these Operational Rules. The RFL shall insure the Trophy for its full replacement value and the cost of such insurance will be deducted by the RFL from the winning club's share of the net Gate Receipts (set out in Operational Rule Section A3 Above). No Club may copy, disfigure, repair, add to or alter the Trophy (or the medals) or permit any third party to do so without the RFL's prior written consent.


B4:48 All Clubs who participate are deemed by acceptance of the invitation to participate in the Cup to be bound by the Rules of the Cup, the Laws of the Game and these Operational Rules and accept the jurisdiction of the RFL. A copy of the Laws of the Game and the Cup Rules shall be available on the RFL website.


B4:49 Payments, gifts or any other forms of inducement including (but not by way of limitation) payments in kind and free or discounted tickets, made or given to any Match Official as an inducement or reward (other than two free guest tickets, those payments made by the RFL by way of remuneration or expenses under Operational Rule Section B4:30 above and/or any medals given by the RFL) shall be prohibited and any Club, player or other person making any such payment, gift or inducement shall be deemed guilty of Misconduct.


B4:50 Each Club agrees to indemnify the RFL (including but not limited to its officers, employees and contractors) from and against any and all costs, damages, losses, expenses and/or claims (including but not limited to claims for loss of profit or income) which may be made by any third party and which are a consequence whether directly or indirectly, of the fact that the Club has not complied with its obligations in these Operational Rules.


B4:51 Each Club or Non Member Club agrees to abide and to be bound by the Operational Rules relating to Misconduct as set out in Section D of Rules. However in Rounds before Round 3 disciplinary matters relating to foul play on the field (Section D2) will be dealt with by the Disciplinary committee under whose jurisdiction the team normally falls. From Round 3 onwards, the Misconduct Operational Rules (set out in Section D of these Operational Rules) shall apply to all misconduct and/or disciplinary matters arising in the Cup and each Club agrees to abide by these Operational Rules.


B4:52 It shall be an offence for a Club, a player or any person serving in an official capacity with a Club (including without limitation, a Club Official or coacto publish or cause to be published, criticism of the manner in which a referee or touch judge has controlled a game in which a Club has taken part or to issue such a statement to the media in any other form. Any offending Clubor person shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Section D1 of these Operational Rules.


B4:53 Unless the Board otherwise directs, the Operational Rules in this Section B4 shall apply equally to all other Cup competitions organised by the RFL.


B4:54 The Board in its absolute discretion as it thinks fit shall determine any matter that may arise in connection with the Cup for which no provision has been made within these Operational Rules.

B4:55 The Board's decision on all matters where it exercises its discretion shall be final and binding and not subject to any appeals.