The RFL Champion Schools Finals Festival will return this summer after a two-year absence - and it will be played in Newcastle as part of Super League's Magic Weekend.
Seven boys and girls finals, from Year Seven to 10, will be played at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Thunder, on Friday July 8 - and will be followed by Thunder’s Betfred Championship clash against Bradford Bulls at 7.45pm.
And on Saturday July 9, the Year Seven Boys Final - the Steven Mullaney Memorial Match, named in memory of a star of the 1986 Schoolboys Final at Wembley who died in a road traffic accident the following year - will be played at St James’s Park to kick off the first day of the Magic Weekend itself.
Tickets are already on sale for Magic Weekend HERE - which this year sees a return of two classic derbies as St Helens play Wigan Warriors in the second match on Saturday, and Hull FC face Hull KR in the climax to Sunday’s programme [full details and fixtures below].
The 2022 Champion Schools Finals Festival in Newcastle will continue a tradition stretching back to 1975 when a schoolboys curtain-raiser was first played before the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
The competition was reshaped with the English Schools Rugby League in 2002, and is thought to be the biggest knockout competition in Rugby League - and returned this term for the first time since the 2020 competitions were curtailed at the regional stage by the Covid pandemic, which lingered to prevent them even kicking off in 2021.
The Year 11 Finals will be played on April 27 at Featherstone’s Millennium Stadium because of exam considerations in the summer term. In the girls’ competition, Castleford Academy, who were the champions in 2019, will face Corpus Christi from Leeds - while in the boys’ competition there’s an equivalent of this weekend’s Challenge Cup tie in Cumbria, as St Benedict’s of Whitehaven take on St Cuthbert’s of St Helens.
The boys competitions for Years 7-10 are coming to the quarter finals, and the girls competitions will confirm National Festival qualifiers by the end of next week, with the last few events taking place in the North East and London over the next seven days.
Well over 7,000 players have taken part in almost 500 teams from 125 schools, spread from Hexham in Northumbria to Ysgol Glantaf in Cardiff and Dane Court Grammar School in Kent.
Keith Christie, who recently returned to Newcastle Thunder as Chairman, said: "We’re delighted to be chosen as the venue for the Champions Schools finals day and we are looking forward to welcoming all the young players to Kingston Park.
"Inspiring and motivating through the power of sport is a key driver of the work we undertake in the community and I hope playing in a stadium like ours is a memorable experience for everybody.
"It adds to what is a big weekend of Rugby League in the North East with our game against Bradford Bulls following on Friday night and Magic Weekend on the Saturday and Sunday so it should be a great three days."
Andrea Murray, the RFL’s Secondary Schools Manager, said: "The return of the Champion Schools has already been a highlight of the year for the sport, and it’s fantastic to confirm that the Finals Festival will be part of Super League’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
"The number of youngsters playing Rugby League in the North-East has been a major success story for the sport over recent years, with the focus of Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park – and Magic Weekend is such a popular celebration for Rugby League fans, as we saw again at St James’s Park last summer.
“For the hundreds of players aiming to reach this year’s Finals, they now know they are in with a chance of playing at Kingston Park or St James’s Park in what will be a very special weekend for Rugby League – and we are grateful for the support of Newcastle Thunder and Super League Europe for allowing this to happen.”
Magic Weekend returns to St James’ Park, Newcastle, on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 July. Celebrate the start of summer with a carnival of Rugby League, with a full round of Betfred Super League clashes taking place from one venue. Enjoy six HUGE clashes including the two biggest derbies, plus interactive games, exhibition matches, and a live DJ keep the party going. Take advantage of the unique pass-out system, allowing you to leave the stadium to visit our jam-packed Fan Zone or explore the City, before returning to your seats to get your fix of unbelievable tries, tackles, and tussles. Bring on Summer. Bring the noise. Bring On Magic Weekend.
Saturday 9 July
- 2.30pm: Wakefield Trinity vs Toulouse Olympique
- 4.45pm: St Helens vs Wigan Warriors
- 7pm: Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers
Sunday 10 July
- 1pm: Huddersfield Giants vs Salford Red Devils
- 3.15pm: Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves
- 5.30pm: Hull Kingston Rovers vs Hull FC
The Year Seven Boys Final in the RFL Champion Schools – the Steven Mullaney Memorial Match – Will Kick Things Off on Saturday July 9.