Mid-week Rugby League returns as the inaugural NSW Challenge Cup kicks off this month (29 March) in a flashback to the bygone era, with the Grand Final to be played as the curtain-raiser to the last Country-City match in Mudgee.

Four 20-minute quarters, unlimited interchanges and mid-week fixtures are part of a rejuvenated Rugby League knockout tournament similar to the Amco Cup of the 1970s and 80s.

Winners from CRL’s strongest divisions in Illawarra and Newcastle and nominated teams from NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield competitions will feature in the eight-team tournament run by the NSWRL and CRL, bringing clubs from NSW country and city regions closer together.

“It’s an exciting concept revisiting the history of Rugby League. It’s going to be great to see NSWRL teams playing against CRL teams in a formal competition,” said NSWRL General Manager of Football Barrie-Jon Mather.

CRL Operations Manager Bert Lowrie said: “There’s always been a healthy appetite to see the best teams from regional and metropolitan NSW go head-to-head and this is hopefully the first step to an expanded competition in the future.”

The NSW Challenge Cup will be played at various venues around regional NSW and Sydney, with the champions to be decided at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Regional Sporting Complex before the Country-City fixture on 7 May.

The winning team will receive $15,000 in prize money, while the runner-up will take home $7,000, with every team receiving some money value.