Challenge Cup: BBC to show West Wales Raiders v Widnes Vikings and Featherstone v Bradford

The Challenge Cup first-round ties West Wales Raiders v Widnes Vikings and Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls will be shown live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport digital platforms.

For all four teams the games mark a return to action after more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ties are scheduled for Sunday, 21 March.

The Raiders v Vikings tie kicks off at 12:45 GMT, with Rovers v Bulls following at 15:00.

The ongoing implications of the pandemic have forced changes to the structure of the 2021 Challenge Cup because amateur clubs were not able to enter the tournament for the early rounds.

Instead, the 13 English clubs from the Championship - including Bradford, Featherstone and Widnes - have been joined by West Wales and two other clubs from League One.

The 12 Super League clubs will join the competition at the third-round stage in April, which will be followed by quarter-finals in May, the semi-finals on 5 June, and the final at Wembley on Saturday, 17 July - with the BBC showing two third-round fixtures, two quarter-finals, the semi-final and final.

Last year's final saw Leeds Rhinos beat Salford Red Devils 17-16 at Wembley thanks to a late drop-goal from Luke Gale.

Fifteen final wins and a few familiar faces

West Wales Raiders are one of three third-tier sides to be competing in this year's competition, alongside Barrow Raiders and Keighley Cougars.

They could name a couple of well-known players in their squad for the tie against seven-time winners Widnes, with former Wales rugby union fly-half Gavin Henson and ex-England rugby league international Rangi Chase on their books.

The second tie sees two West Yorkshire and Championship rivals go head to head.

Featherstone, who have won the competition three times, take on Bradford, with five Challenge Cup successes to their name.

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