ORGANISER Leigh Paul-Rientoul reckons the re-expansion of the York & District Cup is a boon for amateur rugby league in the area.

After seasons of decline, which culminated in the 2017 competition featuring only three clubs with the final not even being played until later this month, the 2018 version will have a full complement of eight competing teams. A plate competition is also planned for first-round losers.

York Acorn ARLC boss Paul-Rientoul, who is also the new York & District head of rugby, believes the now annual East v West representative game, first played in honour of the late Stuart Evans in December 2016, has proven to be the catalyst for the re-energising of the district body.

"We made it so teams had to play in the cup for their players to be eligible for York & District rep teams and tours," he said.

"Hopefully this year the cup will be a lot better. It certainly seems to have picked up a lot.

"For us it's a matter of managing the clubs and making sure they're all happy and wanting to be part of it. We're just trying to do our best for York rugby league.

"York City Knights have supported it as well, which sometimes has been difficult in past years. Their chairman, Jon Flatman, is a big believer in the amateur game."

The latest East v West game acted as a trial, too, for the York & District rep team that took on the Knights this pre-season and that will have a tour to France in May, playing a curtain-raiser to a Catalans Dragons Super League match.

"The first East v West game kickstarted it all for us," added Paul-Rientoul. "Those games with continue and we're trying to get York & District playing regular matches as well."

The delayed 2017 York & District Cup final between Acorn and New Earswick has now been scheduled for a week on Saturday, February 24.

The ties for the 2018 competition, meanwhile, are set to be played on Wednesday evenings in the summer, starting in June.

The competing clubs are Acorn, New Earswick, Heworth, York Lokomotive, Selby Warriors, Scarborough Pirates, Wetherby Bulldogs and either Sherburn Bears or Brotherton.

There has been a boost at junior level, too, with a York & District U10s rep team playing a recent mini-festival, with other age groups likely to be follow.

Meanwhile, John Harrison has stood down as York & District ARL chairman, being replaced by Geoff Loftus.