THE engage Super League fixtures released today show history will be in the making for Warrington Wolves in 2009.
Wolves, who open the season at St Helens on Friday, February 13, will play three Super League matches on grounds where they have never played before, including a mouthwatering battle with Catalans Dragons at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday, June 20.
Jimmy Lowes’ men will make their first appearance at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh against Hull Kingston Rovers as part of the Magic weekend on May2/3, and they will have their first trip to the Brewery Field in Bridgend to face Super League newcomers Celtic Crusaders on Saturday, July 4.
Wolves will start their home campaign against Catalans Dragons on Sunday, February 22, and the normal rounds in the new 14-team format will end with the visit of Harlequins to The Halliwell Jones Stadium on September 13.
An eight-team play-off competition, rather than the previous six-team format, will then come into play to determine the Grand Finalists at Old Trafford on October 10. This new format is yet to be revealed.
All fixtures could have their days altered to fit in with television coverage, as Sky have yet to announce the games they will be broadcasting live.
Warrington Wolves engage Super League fixtures for 2009. (These fixtures are subject to change for television coverage).
Fri 13th St Helens (A) 8pm.
Sun 22nd Catalans Dragons (H) 3pm.
Sat 28th Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (A) 3.30pm.
Sun 8th Leeds Rhinos (H) 3pm.
Sat 14th Harlequins (A) 3pm.
Sun 22nd Hull KR (H) 3pm.
Sun 29th Celtic Crusaders (H) 3pm.
Fri 10th Salford City Reds (A) 3pm – Good Friday.
Mon 13th Castleford Tigers (H) 3pm – Easter Monday.
Sun 19th Bradford Bulls (A) 3pm.
Sun 26th Huddersfield Giants (H) 3pm.
Sat 2nd/Sun 3rd Hull Kingston Rovers (N) kick off TBC – Murrayfield, Edinburgh.
Fri 15th Hull (A) 8pm.
Sun 24th Wigan Warriors (H) 3pm.
Sun 7th Castleford Tigers (A) 3.30pm.
Sun 14th Bradford Bulls (H) 3pm.
Sat 20th Catalans Dragons (A) 8pm local time – Olympic Stadium, Barcelona.
Sun 28th Hull (H) 3pm.
Sat 4th Celtic Crusaders (A) 6pm.
Sun 12th St Helens (H) 3pm.
Sun 19th Huddersfield (A) 3pm.
Sun 26th Salford City Reds (H) 3pm.
Fri 31st Leeds Rhinos (A) 8pm.
Fri 14th Wigan (A) 8pm.
Sun 23rd Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (H) 3pm.
Sun 6th Hull Kingston Rovers (A) 3pm.
Sun 13th Harlequins (H) 3pm.
Wolves have expressed delight that their Catalans Dragons away fixture will be played in the Catalonian capital of Barcelona, as first mooted in the Warrington Guardian in September.
The club’s chief executive Andy Gatcliffe said: “I’m sure our supporters will turn one of the world’s greatest cities ‘primrose and blue’.
“Thanks must go the Catalans club for choosing us as the side they wish to play for this unique one-off showcase.
“We are renowned for taking more supporters to Perpignan than any other club in Super League. I’m sure the number of fans travelling to Barcelona will exceed our expectations.”
The fixture will be the first time the Warrington club has played in Spain and only the second time a rugby league match has been played at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.
The honour of playing the first game in the city went to Huddersfield in 1993 when they took on the original Perpignan club – Catalan XIII - in the one-off European Nations Cup Final, winning 23-22.
The game attracted a crowd of 10,000 and Wolves are confident that figure can be topped.
Wolves’ media and press officer Greg Spruce, said: “With an expected 3,000-plus travelling from Warrington and likewise numbers travelling from Perpignan, and that combined with the sports-mad Barcelona public, I’m sure we will get an attendance well above the 10,000 that attended in 1993.”
The 55,000-capacity Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys is home to La Liga football team Espanyol and was also the venue for Andorra’s World Cup qualifier against England earlier this year and the 1992 Olympic Games.
Wolves are running official packages to Barcelona for the game.
More information can be found at Warringtonwolves.com or by contacting 0871 622 1879.
Celtic Crusaders will kick off next year’s Super League with an away trip to champions Leeds Rhinos on Friday, February 6.
In a year that will see many firsts, including a first season with 14 licensed clubs guaranteed top flight status until 2011, the Welsh based Crusaders will face two away ties against Rhinos and Salford City Reds before their first home game at Brewery Field on February 21 against Hull FC.
John Dixon, Celtic Crusaders’ head coach, said: “Playing the 2008 engage Super League champions in our first fixture provides us with the best possible introduction to playing at the elite level. We look forward to the game.”
The opening weekend of engage Super League XIV will see three fixtures brought forward.
Two will be brought forward in order to free up space later in the calendar for Leeds Rhinos’ involvement in the Carnegie World Club Challenge on March 1 and also Harlequins RL’s friendly with Manly Sea Eagles on February 19. Therefore, in addition to the Rhinos’ game with the Crusaders, Harlequins RL will face Bradford Bulls two days later at the Twickenham Stoop on February 8. Wigan Warriors will also play their round 17 fixture with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on the opening Sunday.
Tickets for the Magic weekend and the engage Super League Grand Final are already available from the RFL box office on 0871 2261313 or via www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.