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Challenge Cup to be redrawn following withdrawal of 6 clubs

The Challenge Cup will go ahead this season but with a difference as the competition is set to be redrawn following the withdrawal of 6 clubs. 

The competition has been thrown into chaos following a host of withdrawals, Toronto Wolfpack’s decision to not participate in Super League or the Challenge Cup this year saw the last 16 of the Cup left with 15 teams, meaning Toronto’s drawn opponents Newcastle Thunder would be granted a bye to the quarter-final stage.

However reports suggest the five remaining non Super League sides are also expected to withdraw, with Sheffield Eagles confirming last night that they won’t play in the Challenge Cup or the proposed RFL organised Autumn competition for Championship and League One sides.

While many Championship teams have not ruled out playing in the autumn anniversary event, it is understood Featherstone Rovers, Widnes Vikings, York City Knights and Newcastle Thunder will join Sheffield in withdrawing from the Challenge Cup.

That will leave 10 remaining Super League sides to play the remainder of the tournement. The last-16 stage is due to be played on August 22 and 23, with the quarter-finals on September 19 and 20, the semi-finals on October 3 and the final on October 17.

If non Super League sides were to stay in the competition it would have mean their players returning to training for a one-off game in less than a month's time and then not playing again for another four weeks, which made no financial sense to a sport already severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is expected the remaining 10 teams will enter into a new draw, with the exact details of draw to be confirmed with the most likely solution to be only two games taking place in the last 16 to find the final two sides to make up the quarter-finals, with six sides handed a bye.

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