Fixtures have been confirmed for the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup, with the group stage – and with it the Women's 2022 season – starting on Sunday 13 March and the competition itself culminating with the final at Elland Road on Saturday 7 May.
Last week's draw, which took place at Elland Road, saw 16 teams drawn into four seeded groups of four teams – guaranteeing each of them three fixtures. And the top two seeds, St Helens and Leeds Rhinos, will both play two of their three matches away from home.
In the opening fixtures, newly-promoted Barrow Raiders face the sternest of tests – a Group A home tie against the cup-holders St Helens. The other Group A tie sees a formidable British Army team entertain a Warrington Wolves side boosted by the recent signings of twins Emily and Lucy Baggaley from Wigan Warriors, Grace Ramsden from Bradford Bulls and Katie-May Williams from St Helens.
In Group B, last season's BWSL Shield winners Huddersfield Giants entertain Leeds Rhinos, while Hull FC visit to Leigh Miners Rangers. Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings are at home to Wigan Warriors and York City Knights respectively in the opening Group C fixtures, while Group D offers derby matches between Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, and Oulton Raidettes and Featherstone Rovers.
Group fixtures in full
Sunday 13 March
Group A: Barrow Raiders v St Helens; British Army v Warrington Wolves
Group B: Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos; Leigh Miners Rangers v Hull FC
Group C: Bradford Bulls v Wigan Warriors; Widnes Vikings v York City Knights
Group D: Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity; Oulton Raidettes v Featherstone Rovers
Sunday 27 March
Group A: St Helens v British Army; Warrington Wolves v Barrow Raiders
Group B: Hull FC v Leeds Rhinos; Leigh Miners Rangers v Huddersfield Giants
Group C: Bradford Bulls v York City Knights; Wigan Warriors v Widnes Vikings
Group D: Oulton Raidettes v Castleford Tigers; Wakefield Trinity v Featherstone Rovers
Sunday 3 April
Group A: Warrington Wolves v St Helens; Barrow Raiders v British Army
Group B: Leeds Rhinos v Leigh Miners Rangers; Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants
Group C: Widnes Vikings v Bradford Bulls; York City Knights v Wigan Warriors
Group D: Featherstone Rovers v Castleford Tigers; Wakefield Trinity v Oulton Raidettes
The top two teams from each group will progress to the quarter-finals stage on the weekend of 9-10 April. The four group stage winners will each enjoy home advantage in the quarter-finals: the winner of Group A will play the runner-up from Group B; the Group B winner will host the Group A runner-up; Group C's winner will play the Group D runner-up; and the winner of Group D will entertain the runner-up from Group C.
The semi-finals are scheduled for the weekend of 23/24 April and the final for Saturday 7 May – part of an Elland Road triple header alongside the semi-finals of the Men's competition.
On the following weekend (Sunday 15 May) the Betfred Women's Super League gets underway, with fixtures to be announced early in the New Year.