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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 14:55 GMT
Challenge Cup secures new sponsor
St Helens are the reigning Challenge Cup champions
St Helens are the reigning Challenge Cup champions
The Rugby Football League (RFL) has signed a six-year sponsorship deal for the Challenge Cup with Leeds Metropolitan University.

Under the deal, worth a reported 6m-10m, the competition will be known as the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

Friday's first-round draw handed Leeds Met a tough trip to Wigan St Patricks.

All three service teams received home ties while Thornhill Trojans, who faced Catalans Dragons last season, were drawn at home to South London Storm.

The first-round games will be played on 3-4 February.

The semi-professional clubs from the National League enter the competition at the third-round stage, with Super League outfits joining a round later.

The new deal, which sees the competition named after Leeds Met's Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education, runs until 2012.

The size of the deal is not thought to be a record but the length of the deal sets a new benchmark for rugby league's knockout competition.

As part of the new partnership, the RFL's panel of full-time referees will be based at the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education and it is expected that Great Britain will make use of its facilities.

"The partnership is both ground-breaking and unique in sport," said RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis.

"The RFL believes it is highly appropriate as there is a great deal of synergy between our organisational values and the values of the sport of rugby league."

First-round draw:
Rochdale Mayfield v Millom
Saddleworth v Halton Simms Cross
Thornhill v South London
Stanningley v Leigh East
Eccles and Salford v Blackbrook
Royal Navy v Waterhead
Siddal v York Acorn
Bradford Dudley Hill v Brighouse
Army v Leigh Miners
Eastmoor v Shaw Cross
East Leeds v Warrington Wizards
Wath Brow v Oulton
Seaton v Queens
Heworth v Hull Isberg
Drighlington v Askam
Skirlaugh v Milford
Hull Dockers v Thatto Heath
Dewsbury Celtic v Ovenden
Crosfields v West Bowling
Egremont v Oldham St Annes
Normanton v Fife Lions
Wigan St Patricks v Leeds Metropolitan University
Ince Rose Bridge v Widnes St Maries
Hull Victoria v Castleford Lock Lane
RAF v East Hull
Bramley v Wigan St Judes
West Hull v Castleford Panthers.

Matches to be played 3-4 February.

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