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Francis Stephenson, the ex-England forward who is now the Transitions Manager for RL Cares, said: “Following on from the success of a similar initiative in 2019 at the last Challenge Cup fiinal at Wembley without Covid-19 regulations, the RFL have kindly allocated a block of seating on the Club Wembley level to former players – in recognition of their contribution to the sport, and to the great history of the Challenge Cup.
“In 2019, this offer was only available to players who had appeared in a Challenge Cup final, but this year we’ve broadened it out to anyone who has played at any stage of the Challenge Cup – men’s, women’s or wheelchair.
“The only condition is that the players have to apply for their tickets through one of the past players associations that are growing across Rugby League.
“These associations offer so much, both to clubs as a way of staying in touch with their former players, and to the players as a way of keeping in contact with their old mates and the sport itself.
“It’s been great in the last couple of years or so to see the way clubs like Wigan and Wakefield have put a new focus on their past players, and attracted a lot of old faces back to the club – and also to see the well-established organisation at Leeds Rhinos going from strength to strength.
“At RL Cares, we can offer a central resource to steer any former players in the right direction – or even to help them set up new organisations at clubs where they aren’t established.
“I’ve had a couple of encouraging conversations with players who have served the Cumbrian clubs with great distinction – to the best of my knowledge there isn’t currently a formal past players association up there, and I think it’s the same for London Broncos at the other end of the country.
“We’ve already had a great response to this offer from a number of past players associations, and it’s safe bet that the guys who do go down to London will make sure they enjoy the experience – and hopefully we can use this Wembley get-together as a way of breathing new life into past players associations up and down the land.
“We had a trial run when the finals were at Tottenham last year which went down really well, and all the signs are we’re going to have a bigger take-up this year – so I’d urge former players to get in touch as soon as possible, as tickets are limited and will be on a first come first served basis.”
Betfred Challenge Cup Finals Day returns to Wembley on Saturday August 12, with the line-up for the three senior Finals to be determined in six Semi Finals next weekend.
The action will kick off at midday with the first women’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley, with the men’s final following in the traditional 3.00pm slot, and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final rounding off the action from 5.15pm.
The best way of applying for Club Wembley tickets – with two available free of charge for all former players – is to contact the relevant past players association.
Alternatively, email Francis Stephenson at Francis.Stephenson@rlcares.org.uk