Ahead of today’s Wembley showpiece, Rugby League has received messages of support from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, who will be the Chief Guest.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who welcomed the three trophies for this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup – Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair – to Downing Street this week, said: “Good luck to Castleford, St Helens, Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights in their respective finals this Saturday.
“I’m delighted to see Rugby League fans safely back in stadiums after the hollow sight of empty chairs for much of the last 18 months.
“With just 100 days until England hosts the Rugby League World Cup, this is a landmark year for the sport – and I look forward to welcoming players and fans to a spectacular tournament later this year.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I’m absolutely delighted that today’s Challenge Cup Final will see the largest crowd at a Rugby League match in this country for two years. As its showpiece occasion, I know how much it means to the players to have fans back cheering them on.
“We have worked very closely with the RFL through our Events Research Programme to make sure the final can take place safely and securely.
“This is a big year for Rugby League. With less than 100 days to go until the Rugby League World Cup, the prospect of Castleford and St Helens playing in front of 40,000 fans marks the start of the road to recovery for the sport.”
Simon Johnson, the RFL Chair, said: “We are very grateful to the Government for allowing this to be treated as part of the Events Research Programme. I hope that those fans who are able to be here today enjoy a memorable experience. Our inclusion in the ERP was another example of the support we have received from Government throughout the challenging times of the last 18 months. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Oliver Dowden, the Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston and their teams of officials and advisers, have provided outstanding support to Rugby League.”