The Challenge Cup is one of sport's most beautiful trophies.
With the triumphant British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in the bag, attention now turns to rugby league. Beginning July 12 and lasting until August 24, the final eight of this year's competition are ready to do battle. Can Warrington Wolves secure the trophy for a second consecutive campaign? Will Wigan Warriors reclaim the silverware they won in 2011? All will be revealed.
For now, here's everything you need to know about Tetley's Rugby Event.
Route to the Quarterfinals
As the only rugby league tournament to include amateur and professional teams, this season's Challenge Cup began with the First Qualifying Round back in October 2012.
Forty squads from England, Scotland and Wales kicked off the eight-month process, with all winners heading into the Second Qualifying Round. Teams from France are also eligible to take part, as confirmed by the Catalan Dragons' presence in the final eight.
Successful teams from the Second Qualifying Round entered the First Round at the beginning of December 2012. The five amateur winners from this section were Leeds Metropolitan University, Milford Marlins, East Leeds, Blackbrook Royals and Hunslet Old Boys. All qualified for the Second Round, the part of the competition where 14 Conference Premier League sides and three Armed Services teams join the lineup.
The Third-Round draw is where it gets particularly difficult for amateur teams. A total of 23 Kingstone Press Championship and Championship One clubs are introduced, ensuring no amateur clubs remained in the competition for the Fourth Round. East Leeds, Leigh Miners Rangers, Hunslet Old Boys, Skirlaugh RLFC and Siddal RLFC all suffered defeats at this point.
Professional rugby fans should get excited around the Fourth Round. This is the time where 14 Superleague teams are added, including last year's winners, Warrington Wolves. Remaining clubs must progress through the Fourth and Fifth rounds before capturing a place in the quarterfinals. Now that we're to the final 8, things should get even more interesting, as the best teams in the tournament have risen to the top.
Quarterfinal Fixtures and Details
July 12—Sheffield Eagles vs. London Broncos; Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, England.
July 13—Catalan Dragons vs. Hull FC; Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan, France.
July 14—Warrington Wolves vs. Huddersfield Giants; Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England.
July 15—Wigan Warriors vs. Widnes Vikings; DW Stadium, Wigan, England.
Semifinals and Final
July 27—Semifinal one, neutral venue.
July 28—Semifinal two, neutral venue.
August 24—The 2013 Challenge Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England.
Which teams have a major chance of emerging victorious inside England's most famous stadium? Wembley awaits, but will a welcome intake of winnings also appear? Let's check out the bookmakers' view. All odds are courtesy of Skybet and correct as of July 11.
To win the competition outright—Wigan Warriors, 11/8; Warrington Wolves, 7/4; Catalan Dragons, 6/1; Huddersfield Giants, 8/1; Hull FC, 9/1; London Broncos, 33/1; Widnes Vikings, 66/1; Sheffield Eagles, 125/1.
While risk-taking punters might opt for an outside bet, it's pretty obvious which teams the bookies believe have a real chance of taking the crown. The 2013 Challenge Cup quarterfinals are set to kick off an explosive month of rugby league action and should be extremely competitive right to the last.
Be sure to let us know your hopes and predictions in the comments section below. Also, you can discuss the upcoming tournament with me on Twitter right here:
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!