CHEPSTOW referee Kristoff Young will blow his whistle to officially start this year's Betfred Rugby League Challenge Cup on Friday.

The Welsh official will be in charge at Pyle RFC when WRL men's champions Bridgend Blue Bulls take on the Royal Navy.

It will be the first time a Challenge Cup match featuring a Wales Rugby League community side has taken place in Wales for seven years, with current WRL head of match officials James Jones taking charge of the last one.

All WRL community sides since then have been drawn away from home but this year the Blue Bulls have home advantage in the first round, with the other ties all taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

Young said: "When this appointment come through from the Rugby Football League, I was so shocked and honoured to be appointed to referee in the opening game of the Challenge Cup on Friday evening in Bridgend.

"This comes as a big stepping stone in the right direction for me as a WRL/RFL match official. I worked hard the last season to improve and develop with the opportunities that came my way.

"Although it's going to be a big occasion for both teams, this will the biggest game I have refereed to date.

"I'm extremely excited to get out there to referee and work closely with my appointed touch judges Christopher Williams and Ian Curzon, who will have a big part in this fixture also.

"I would like to say thank you to the James Jones and to the Rugby Football League match official department for all the support and guidance they provided me last season that has helped me achieve this."

The appointment shows the RFL's confidence in the Wales Rugby League match officials department, which was completely restructured in 2019 with the appointments of Jones along with Rob Apsee as WRL match officials officer.

Wales Rugby League chief executive Gareth Kear said: "Congratulations to Kristoff, who is another quality product from the Wales Rugby League match officials development conveyor belt.

"We'll be launching another match officials course within the next six weeks where there will be opportunities for men and women to become rugby league referees."