Carnegie Challenge Cup
The Carnegie Challenge Cup that is played by teams from England, Scotland, Wales, France and Russia is a knock-out tournament organized by Rugby Football League. Founded in 1896, this historic competition is open to amateur, semi-professional and professional clubs, with partners being the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education at the Leeds Metropolitan University. This competition takes place over a period of eight long months where 94 teams take part in it, with two reaching the Grand Final. The Grand Final is usually played at the Wembley Stadium in London, attracting thousands of rugby fans from around the country.
Structure of the Competition
Although the competition originally had all English teams, it was expanded later with additional teams from France and Russia. The eight month long competition has seven rounds of rugby games and teams are ranked at different stages of the competition. The seven rounds are played by the 94 teams in the following format.
The first round is the Preliminary round that is played by 54 amateur rugby clubs divided into two sets. The 54 teams include:
38 from the National Conference league
Five regional BARLA league winners
the Royal British Army, Navy and Air Force
The Student Rugby League Champions
The Leeds Metropolitan University Champions and
Six members of the Rugby League Conference including one from Wales and one from Scotland
In the second round, the top 27 teams from the Preliminary round and one Russian team play each other. Fourteen winners from the second round, three French teams, and 21 semi-professional British clubs from the Rugby National Leagues play each other in the third round.
In the fourth, the 18 winners from the 3rd round and fourteen Super League teams play against each other. The fifth round is the last 16, where the winners of the 4th round play each other. The sixth round is the last-eight round that determines the four teams that will move to the semi-finals. The seventh is the Semi Final round, where the two winners will go ahead to play the Grand Final in London.
Awards and Trophies
The team that wins the Challenge is awarded the Carnegie Challenge Cup trophy that was created by John Spencer Goldsmiths of Sheffield. The original trophy that was designed by Fattorini and Sons in 1897 was used till 2001, but had to be put away because of its delicate condition.
In addition to the winning team, the best player or the ‘man-of-the-match’ in the final game is awarded the Lance Todd Trophy, which was introduced in 1946 in memory of Lance Todd, who played for England’s Lancashire team during the 1900s.
With a grand history of more than 100 years, the Carnegie Challenge Cup can be considered as one of the most prestigious in the world rugby calendar. Of the many teams that have tasted victory during the span of this competition, the Wigan Warriors of Greater Manchester won a record 17 Challenge Cups including eight consecutive final victories between 1988 and 1995.