Newcastle Thunder will start the 2019 RL season by staging a massive double header match-day at Kingston Park Stadium on Saturday 16th February. 

Thunder will start their Betfred League One campaign with a humdinger clash against Doncaster, kicking off at 14:30 before the 10,200 capacity stadium stages the hugely anticipated Betfred Championship Round 3 match-up between Toronto Wolfpack and Widnes Vikings at 17.00.

Thunder and Doncaster have enjoyed a fierce rivalry in recent seasons and both teams are being tipped to be in contention for the playoffs come the season end.

 The Toronto versus Widnes match is one of three early season ‘home’ games that the Wolfpack will take on the road due to the potential of wintery weather conditions in Canada and will pit the two title favourites against each other, as both sides look to emerge from an incredibly competitive Betfred Championship and gain promotion to the Betfred Super League.

 Both games will take place on Kingston Park’s artificial 3G pitch with supporters from all teams able to watch both games for just one ticket price.

Speaking about the double header event Thunder chairman Mick Hogan said: “What a way to start the season for the supporters!  Both Thunder and Doncaster have really strong squads for the 2019 season and this will be a massive encounter.

“Add in a match between the two stand-out teams in the Betfred Championship and we should have the biggest RL occasion at Kingston Park Stadium ever.  We look forward to welcoming the fans, players and officials from Doncaster, Toronto and Widnes and we will put on a top-class occasion for all both on and off the pitch.”

Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall said: “We at Doncaster are delighted to accept the offer to play in an opening season double header.

“Toronto Wolfpack will take on Widnes Vikings in the main event and the Dons will go to battle with Newcastle Thunder, who have made some head turning signings this season showing their intent.

“This is a challenge, which will hopefully be in front of a packed-out Kingston Park, we accept and are looking forward to immensely. What a way to start the Championship and League One seasons.”

 Martin Vickers, UK business development manager for Toronto Wolfpack said: “Toronto Wolfpack proudly support all or our sport’s expansion teams around the world. We have great respect for the excellent work Newcastle are doing on and off the field are and excited to work together on this double header.

“The Wolfpack fondly remember our trip to Kingston Park in 2017 when we received a great reception from everyone at the club. These games will be a huge draw for what should be a huge crowd, and we will do all we can to bring our Canadian home game experience to the North East”

James Rule, chief executive at Widnes Vikings commented: “We’re excited by the double header concept to be hosted by Newcastle Thunder in February. We’ve always had a great relationship with Newcastle and we’re looking forward to working with them, and Toronto, to create a great crowd and atmosphere for our members and supporters. 

“Naturally it’s far easier for our supporters to get to Newcastle than Toronto, so I’m sure we will have an excellent following, which will be a huge lift for the players. From a performance point of view, this also removes the disruptive travel logistics, and different time zones, that you would encounter travelling to Toronto.

Therefore, I’m sure our players and coaching staff will be excited by this double header.

The remainder of Newcastle Thunder’s 2019 Betfred League 1 fixtures will be confirmed at 18:00, with ticket details to be confirmed in due course.