OPINION: How to improve 1895 Cup

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This year saw the first ever 1895 Cup held. It was marketed as a chance for the lower ranked sides to get to Wembley.

It was selected to be played AFTER the Challenge Cup Final, but as a result, there were a lot less fans in the stadium for the game.

Another issue was the low attendances, mainly due to midweek games. Many struggled to get over 1,000 fans.

So what can be done to improve it?

My personal opinion would be to make it like the Challenge Shield in the Women’s game, where the losers in the rounds where the Championship and League One teams enter the competition and then hold the games at the same time as the Challenge Cup, eliminating midweek games that for some fans, can be extremely diffcult to get to.

The Shield in the Womens game has been a success for me, as it gave the Army a chance to win their first piece of silverware in rugby league. Even the losing finalists, York City Knights, had the chance to win silverware after a diffcult Super League campaign.

Those rounds see 24 teams play, so for this case, say the top eight teams have a bye, and then a full knockout competition would start.

For example, this season would see the following teams enter:

Coventry Bears

Rochdale Mayfield

Wigan St Judes

York Acorn

West Wales Raiders

West Bowling

London Skolars

Dewsbury Moor Maroons

Distington

Haydock

Wigan St Patricks

Siddal

Swinton Lions

North Wales Crusaders

Featherstone Lions

Keighley Cougars

Barrow Raiders

Lock Lane

West Hull

Hunslet

Oldham

Sheffield Eagles

Whitehaven

Newcastle Thunder

Out of these sides the following would get a bye: Sheffield Eagles, Barrow Raiders, Swinton Lions, Oldham, Hunslet, Newcastle Thunder, Keighley Cougars and North Wales Crusaders.

The remaining 16 teams would play each other and then the sides with a bye would enter into the second round.

This format could also add to the Challenge Cup semi final double header and potentially make a weekend out of it.

Then the final would act as the curtain raiser to the Challenge Cup Final.

If feel like this would be the best formula to get the most of this format. It is promising the way it is, but this format could take it to a new level.

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