Rugby League: North Herts Crusaders up for the challenge of high-flying RAF
PUBLISHED: 13:47 08 January 2019
The rugby league Challenge Cup is normally associated with the M62 corridor and gritty working class towns.
The route slices across northern England from Humberside to Liverpool, taking in such towns and cities as Hull, Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax and Salford.
However a new name can be added to the list: Hitchin. North Herts Crusaders, who play their games at Old Hale Way in the town, have battled their way through to the first round of the prestigious code.
The Crusaders were pulled out of the hat to face the RAF to make their debut in the coveted trophy, competed for since 1896.
After a successful 2018 season, Crusaders were invited to compete in the 2019 Challenge Cup by the RFL. They won the East Premier Division and also reached the final of the Harry Jepson Trophy, heroically going down in the final to All Golds from Gloucester.
Club stalwart and passionate rugby league devotee Adam Naylor told CometSport: “I’m thrilled the club have made it to the Challenge Cup. It’s an exciting draw and will be a tough challenge against the RAF. “The players are all buzzing to test themselves in this competition.
“All of the hard work put in by everyone since we formed in 2012 has been building towards this. Ollie Adams has done a sterling job as chairman over the past couple of years and we’re all excited for the future.”
The game is set to be played on Sunday, January 27 at Hitchin Rugby Club on Old Hale Way at 1pm.
This year, the Crusaders will be competing in the newly formed Southern Conference, a level four competition and the highest stage of amateur rugby league.
The club are always looking for new players at any level. They also runs a second team, the Knights, who were also successful in 2018 lifting the East Division One title.
Head coach Tony Williams added: “It’s such a great honour to be taking part in the Challenge Cup. The lads have already started working hard in training and putting extra gym sessions on.
“We are up for the ‘Challenge’ and will do everything we can to progress in the competition.”