England’s Wheelchair World Cup heroes will return to Super League action later this month in a new-look season structure which includes a Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
Fixtures for the 2023 Betfred Wheelchair Super League are confirmed today and feature the introduction of four new Central Inclusion rounds, when Physical Disability and Learning Disability Rugby League will also be celebrated.
One of these will coincide with the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend in Newcastle in early June, and there will also be events in Manchester, London, and first in Birmingham on April 15.
The additions will make the 2023 season a ten-round competition with the opening round of fixtures kicking off on the weekend of March 18-19– as the England stars who snatched their dramatic World Cup triumph at Manchester Central last November return to action for their clubs.
Halifax Panthers will launch the defence of the Super League title they regained in 2022 with a tricky trip to Wigan Warriors – a match that is likely to see Rob Hawkins and Wayne Boardman go head to head with their England team-mates Adam Rigby and Dec Roberts.
Leeds Rhinos, who are determined to bounce back from their Grand Final defeat by Halifax following the appointment of James Simpson as coach and led by England captain Tom Halliwell, will begin their campaign away to Warrington Wolves.
Meanwhile the strong southern contingent in the England squad, including head coach Tom Coyd and his younger brother Joe, will return to action with London Roosters at home to Hull FC at Medway Park in Kent.
All this follows a curtain-raising Wheelchair RL 4s competition at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston on Sunday week (March 12).
The growing depth of Wheelchair Rugby League is reflected in the competitions underpinning the Super League, with a six-team Championship comprising Bradford Bulls, Mersey Storm, North Wales Crusaders, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles and Wigan Warriors “A”, and three additional regional development divisions including teams from Bedford, Hereford, Wakefield, York, South Wales and the South-East.
The summer months will see the return of the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup with Leeds Rhinos looking to add a fourth consecutive Challenge Cup title to their name. The competition will begin with a Festival on July 15 with details of the Final to be confirmed soon.
Sky Sports have already confirmed that they will cover the Betfred Wheelchair Super League Grand Final for the third consecutive year – again, with the date and venue to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Martin Coyd OBE, the General Manager of England Wheelchair Rugby League, says: “The popularity of Wheelchair Rugby League has rocketed since England’s win in the World Cup and this upcoming season is a brilliant opportunity to demonstrate how fantastic the sport is to all of our new fans.
“Last year we welcomed three new teams into the competition, and I’m pleased to see that they will be returning. After last season’s exhilarating Grand Final showdown between Halifax Panthers and Leeds Rhinos, I’m sure that we have another exciting year ahead of us.”
Central Inclusion rounds are a new addition to the Betfred Wheelchair Super League calendar. The fixtures will be used to bring Wheelchair, PDRL, and LDRL teams together in the same city to celebrate the diversity of Rugby League which has been boosted by the impact of CreatedBy funding secured by the RFL and RLWC2021.
RFL Social and Inclusion Manager, Chris Godfrey, explains: “CreatedBy funding has provided Clubs and Foundations with vital resources so that they can continue to deliver inclusive Rugby League activities in their wider communities and the Central Inclusion rounds will be a great way to celebrate this.
“We have specifically chosen Birmingham, Manchester, London and Newcastle as our host cities because we believe they’re regions where our inclusive Rugby League offers can thrive, and we’re really looking forward to our first event which will be held in Birmingham on April 15.”