Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique will take their French-Canadian rivalry from Newcastle to Blackpool as one of the feature matches in the Betfred Championship’s Summer Bash, which will return to Bloomfield Road in 2019 for the fifth consecutive year.
The Wolfpack beat Toulouse 43-30 having been invited to launch Super League’s Magic Weekend earlier this year, and will be aiming for another victory under their new coach Brian McDermott on a packed first day of the Betfred Championship’s trip to the seaside next May.
Rochdale Hornets and Swinton Lions will kick things off on Saturday 18 May, with the first of four local derbies over the course of the weekend, before Toronto and Toulouse take centre stage.
Then York City Knights will make their first Summer Bash appearance as a Championship club – having lost to Keighley in the League One Cup Final in Blackpool in 2016 – against a Featherstone Rovers team who will be determined to break their duck at Bloomfield Road, after losing on each of their previous four appearances.
Saturday’s programme ends with the traditional West Yorkshire rivalry between Halifax and Bradford Bulls – the first time they have met in Blackpool since the first Bash, when the Bulls won 18-4.
Day Two kicks off with Barrow facing Sheffield Eagles, before Batley and Dewsbury meet for the fifth consecutive year at Bloomfield Road – with Dewsbury currently holding a 3-1 lead, although all four previous meetings have been tight with the aggregate score 76-70.
Then it will be down to two of the heavyweights in the Betfred Championship with recent Super League experience, Leigh and Widnes, to bring the Summer Bash to a rousing climax – with the Vikings making their first Bash appearance.
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said:
“The fixture list for next year’s Summer Bash sums up why we’re so excited about the Betfred Championship in 2019.
“We’ve got the international appeal of Toronto and Toulouse, with more big-name players and coaches than ever.
“Bradford Bulls, Widnes Vikings and the York City Knights are three new clubs to the Championship next year who will add so much. They’re all involved in cracking games against Halifax, Leigh and Featherstone respectively, and I’m confident their supporters will relish this chance to get involved in the Bash, and get behind their team in Blackpool.
“It’s down to the supporters that we are going back to Bloomfield Road for a fifth consecutive year. We had a number of other strong applications to stage the Summer Bash in 2019, showing how the concept has established itself as a real celebration of what the Championship has to offer, on and off the field.
“But all the analysis we did showed that our supporters wanted to go back to Blackpool. Everybody knows the special range of attractions available to fans of all ages which makes it perfect for a Rugby League weekend away.”
Tickets for the 2019 Betfred Championship Summer Bash go on sale today.
The full fixture list for the 2019 Betfred Championship and Betfred League One will be published at 6pm – including further details of the 1895 Cup, the new knockout competition for Championship and League One clubs which has opened up a second path to Wembley Stadium in 2019, with the final to be played on Challenge Cup Final Day, August 24.
Betfred Championship Summer Bash, 2019 – fixtures (kick-off times TBC)
Saturday 18 May
Rochdale Hornets v Swinton Lions
Toronto Wolfpack v Toulouse Olympique
York City Knights v Featherstone Rovers
Halifax v Bradford Bulls
Sunday 19 May
Barrow v Sheffield Eagles
Batley Bulldogs v Dewsbury Rams
Leigh Centurions v Widnes Vikings