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RUGBY LEAGUE: Oxford handed Halifax tie
INSPECTOR Lewis helped give Oxford Rugby League a plum tie away to Halifax in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
Kevin Whately, the actor who plays Lewis in the popular ITV series set in the city, pulled out Halifax’s number in the third round draw at Iffley Road – the new club’s home.
And Bruce Ray, from Tetley owners Carlsberg, paired them with Oxford – handing them the highest profile tie possible at this stage.
Oxford will visit The Shay on the weekend of April 6/7, hoping to upset ex-Super League side Halifax, who are five-time former winners of English rugby league’s premier cup competition.
“I have just picked myself up off the floor,” said Oxford head coach Tony Benson. “It will be a great experience.
“It is exciting to play against a club like Halifax.
“We are a bit unlucky to get a team like them first up.”
Benson added: “We are going to play Halifax Reserves in a friendly this Sunday.
“No doubt they will look at the game with a bit more interest now.”
Although a shock victory could see Oxford paired with Super League opponents in round four, just playing in a tie like this will help raise the new club’s profile.
“There is no pressure on us,” said Benson. “I don’t think we will be lifting the cup at Wembley or anything.
“The Challenge Cup is an historic competition and to get to play a club like Halifax is a fantastic opportunity.”
Halifax are among the favourites to win the Championship – the division between Oxford’s Kingstone Press Championship One and Super League.
Benson said preparations are stepping up well for Oxford’s opening game, at Gloucestershire All Golds on March 29.
He added: “We don’t expect to take over from rugby union in Oxford.
“But we are offering something for rugby people to come and watch in the summer.
“If they make the effort to come once, I think they will come more often.”