To become one of the winners of the Challenge Cup, you have to get through the qualifying stages. A total of twenty teams are able to qualify. Eighteen will come from the three main European domestic leagues and two will be from the Continental shield which are teams from other European nations.
The current winners of the Challenge Cup are Hull. They won against Wigan with a score of 18–14 on 26 August 2017 in London’s Wembley Stadium and is broadcasted on TV worldwide. Wigan is the most successful club in the history of the Challenge Cup, with a total of nineteen wins.
The present-day Challenge Cup has eight rounds before you reach the final. The teams can enter any round at different stages. In Britain, the final of the Challenge Cup is one of the biggest rugby league events of the year and the tradition is to have it played at the end of the rugby season, late April to early May.
A draw at the home team is made to determine which stadium the cup will be held at. This will be during the first round and right up to the quarter-finals. So not to give an advantage to the home team, the semi-finals are always held on neutral ground. In the final, if the teams draw then the match will be replayed somewhere different and again at a neutral venue.
The very first Challenge Cup final was held at Headingley ground in Leeds between Batley and St. Helens and with a crowd reaching 13,492 spectators. Since 1945, when Wembley became the place where the finals would be held, and still held there until this very day, the final used to be played in different neutral venues, including Manchester, Leeds, Wigan, Huddersfield, Rochdale and Salford and are always on the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend.
If a team become the winners of the Challenge Cup and also the Super League in the same season then they are referred to as having acheived ‘The Double’. So far, only ten of the clubs have achieved this. Wigan, St. Helens and Huddersfield being the top three. The Super League is where a total of twenty-three games are played by the teams and the Super League has different qualifying rules than the Challenge Cup has.