The Betfred Championship Summer Bash is returning to Blackpool for a sixth consecutive year in 2020 – and this time there will be a complementary event straddling two competitions across the Channel.
Six matches will be staged at Bloomfield Road on the weekend of May 30-31, with the emphasis on local derbies – beginning with Batley versus Dewsbury on Saturday May 30, and also including Featherstone versus Bradford, Swinton versus Oldham, and culminating in Leigh versus Widnes in a repeat of the most-watched fixture of 2019’s successful Bash weekend.
Whitehaven, who will return to the Betfred Championship next season after securing promotion from Betfred League 1 with Oldham, will face Mark Aston’s Sheffield Eagles in the second match of the Sunday programme.
Meanwhile London Broncos will travel to France to face Toulouse Olympique XIII in a Double Header also featuring the Betfred Super League fixture between Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos at the Stade Ernest Wallon – the home of rugby union club Stade Toulousain, where TO XIII will play all their home fixtures next season.
As part of this arrangement, Toulouse will face the Broncos in another Anglo-French Betfred Super League and Championship Double Header at Emerald Headingley Stadium in August, when Leeds play their return fixture against the Catalans. That meeting on neutral ground will be the third of the season between Toulouse and London, ensuring that neither is at an unfair advantage or disadvantage as a result of playing in Toulouse on the Bash weekend.
Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The 2019 Betfred Championship Summer Bash weekend was one of the best yet, and it’s great for us to be able to confirm that we’re going back to Blackpool in 2020.”
“It’s an exciting programme of fixtures with a couple of old favourites in the Batley-Dewsbury derby to kick things off on the Saturday, and Leigh versus Widnes to complete the action on Sunday evening – as it did in such exciting fashion in 2019, when there was a great atmosphere in the stadium and we had excellent viewing figures on Sky Sports.”
“But there’s a fresh new look to the remaining four games, with Oldham and Whitehaven involved again after their promotion from Betfred League 1, and Featherstone Rovers to take their old rivalry with Bradford to Blackpool for the first time in the climax of our Saturday programme – which means Halifax will also have new opposition in York City Knights.”
“We’ve also worked hard to accommodate Toulouse’s imaginative proposals for a major new Rugby League event in France, and credit should go to London Broncos and Leeds Rhinos for their support.”
Bernard Sarrazain, the TOXIII Chairman, said: “This double header in Toulouse will surely be one of the highlights of our season. We are delighted to welcome our Catalan friends again at Ernest-Wallon. With our clash against London, just relegated from Super League, followed by the game between Catalans and Leeds, it will be a great Rugby League party! And of course, we look forward to coming back to Headingley.”
“The Rhinos and their fans gave us a great welcome in 2018 and we keep a fantastic souvenir of this game. To play again in this Rugby League emblematic stadium, especially in another Double Header, is a great prospect for us.”
Bernard Guasch, the Catalans chairman, said: “I would like to thank the RFL, the London Broncos and the Leeds Rhinos for helping us to make this event happen. Once again, our club will make history in the competition with this great concept. It will be one of the highlights of the 2020 Super League season.”
“Toulouse is a famous city of Rugby and we are delighted to play again in the Stadium of the last Rugby Union Top 14 Champions. I would also like to thank TOXIII Chairman Bernard Sarrazain and Stade Toulousain Chairman Didier Lacroix for their involvement in the event. We will offer a great experience to all the Rugby fans in Toulouse in May and then in Leeds in August.”
Gary Hetherington, the Leeds Rhinos chief executive, added: “I am delighted the Rhinos are involved in this exciting initiative for both the Super League and Championship competitions. It will provide our fans the opportunity to visit Toulouse for the first time when we play Catalans Dragons at the Stade Ernest Wallon in May, which I am sure will be a great occasion. Equally we are excited to be hosting a second double header at Emerald Headingley when Toulouse take on London ahead of our game against Catalans in August.”