League 1 (rugby league)

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League 1
League 1.jpg
Country  England
Other club(s) from  Wales
Founded 2003
Number of teams 14
Level on pyramid 3
Promotion to Kingstone Press Championship
Relegation to National Conference League
Conference League South
France Elite One Championship
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
League cup(s) League 1 Cup
Current champions Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
Most championships Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars (3 Titles)
TV partners Sky Sports (Grand Final Only)
Website League 1

League 1, known as Kingstone Press League 1 due to sponsorship by the Kingstone Press Cider, is a rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom, and is organised by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in the UK.. It acts as the country's third-tier competition behind the Championship, with which it has a system of promotion and relegation. In 2015 it will be contested by fourteen teams, twelve from England and two from Wales after the games re-structure was confirmed.

The current incarnation of third-tier British rugby league dates to 2003, when the Northern Ford Premiership was divided into National League One and National League Two. With the addition of the French team Toulouse Olympique in 2009, the names were changed to the Championship and League 1, respectively. The current champions are Hunslet, who beat Oldham in the 2014 Grand Final and thus gained that season's only promotion place. From 2015 onward, two spots will be available (providing certain ground requirements are met).


Third-division rugby league competitions in the United Kingdom have existed periodically since 1991. The current incarnation was created in 2003 when the existing second-division competition below the Super League, the Northern Ford Premiership, was split into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten of the NFP joined National League One and the bottom nine joined National League Two. They were joined by London Skolars from the Rugby League Conference who entered National League Two. York City Knights replaced the defunct York Wasps and joined National League Two in 2003.

At the same time, National League Three was created with teams from the Rugby League Conference and from the British Amateur Rugby League Association amateur leagues. It was intended that there would be promotion and relegation between National League Two and National League Three when League Three became more established.

At the end of the 2005 an extra team was relegated from Super League in order to accommodate French side Catalans Dragons. In turn an additional team was relegated from National League One; thus the number of teams in this division remained at ten. Blackpool Panthers were elected to National League Two for the 2005 season to replace the defunct Chorley Lynx. In order to even up the numbers in National League Two, the Welsh team Celtic Crusaders were admitted to the competition in 2005, first playing in the 2006 season and increasing the division to twelve teams.

In 2007, National League Three was scrapped and rebranded as the Rugby League Conference National Division. With the addition of the French team Toulouse Olympique to National League One in 2009, National Leagues One and Two were renamed to the Championship and Championship 1, respectively. South Wales Scorpions were admitted to Championship 1 for the 2010 season.


For winners of the old Third Division, see Rugby Football League Championship Third Division.

League 1 has a system of promotion and relegation with the Championship. At the end of the season, the bottom two teams in the Championship are relegated to League 1. Two League 1 teams are promoted: both Grand Finalists.

There is no promotion or relegation between League 1 and the National Conference League, Conference League South or the French Elite Championship but the RFL can relegated teams down into those leagues as well as promote them via an application; current RFL policy is to expand the top two leagues gradually over time. National Conference League sides Hemel Stags and Gloucestershire All-Golds joined in 2013 and Coventry Bears joined in 2015.

National League 2 (2003-2008)[edit]

Between 2003 to 2008 which ever team(s) finished top of the league or in the promotion places were promoted to the National League 1.

Season Sponsorship Champions Also Promoted Relegated from National League 1 New Clubs Wooden Spoon
2003 Co-Operative Keighley Cougars none Dewsbury Rams London Skolars London Skolars
2004 Barrow Raiders none Keighley Cougars N/A Gateshead Thunder
2005 York City Knights1 none Barrow Raiders
Featherstone Rovers
Blackpool Panthers N/A
2006 Dewsbury Rams Sheffield Eagles Oldham Roughyeds
York City Knights
Celtic Crusaders Blackpool Panthers
2007 Celtic Crusaders Featherstone Rovers Rochdale Hornets
Doncaster Lakers
N/A Blackpool Panthers
2008 Gateshead Thunder Barrow Raiders
Dewsbury Rams N/A Hunslet Hawks

League 1 (2009-Onwards)[edit]

In 2009 the National League 1 was replaced with the Championship 1. The new league still had promotion but via a play off and Grand Final copying the system used in the Super League. In 2015 the league was renamed League 1 and was expanded to 14 teams.

Season Sponsorship Grand Final Winners League Leaders Promoted Relegated from Championship New Clubs Wooden Spoon
2009 Co-Operative Keighley Cougars Dewsbury Rams Keighley Cougars
Dewsbury Rams
Gateshead Thunder
N/A London Skolars
2010 York City Knights Hunslet Hawks Hunslet Hawks
York City Knights
Keighley Cougars
South Wales Scorpions Gateshead Thunder
2011 Keighley Cougars Swinton Lions Swinton Lions
Keighley Cougars
Barrow Raiders
Toulouse Olympique*
N/A Gateshead Thunder
2012 Doncaster RLFC Doncaster RLFC Doncaster RLFC
Barrow Raiders
Workington Town
N/A North Wales Crusaders** Gateshead Thunder
2013 Kingstone Press Cider Rochdale Hornets North Wales Crusaders Rochdale Hornets
North Wales Crusaders
N/A Hemel Stags
Oxford RLFC
Gloucestershire All Golds
Gloucestershire All Golds
2014 Hunslet Hawks York City Knights Hunslet Hawks Barrow Raiders
Swinton Lions
Rochdale Hornets
North Wales Crusaders
Keighley Cougars
N/A South Wales Scorpions
2015 TBD TBD 2 Teams 2 Teams Coventry Bears TBD


Club Wins Winning years
Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
3 2003, 2009, 2011
Yorkcolours.svg York City Knights
2 2005, 2010
Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
1 2004
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams
1 2006
Cruscolours.svg Celtic Crusaders
1 2007
Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead Thunder
1 2008
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster RLFC
1 2012
Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale Hornets
1 2013
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
1 2014

League 1 Cup[edit]

Due to be played from 2015 onwards, the League 1 Cup is a domestic cup competition instead of the Northern Rail Cup, which is to be for the third division of English rugby league and 2 invited clubs from the National Conference League.

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
Bloomfield Road Blackpool England N/A N/A


(as of 2015)

League 1 clubs
Colors Club Established City Stadium Capacity*
Barrow Raiders 1875 Barrow, Cumbria Craven Park 7,600
Coventry Bears 1998 Coventry, West Midlands Butts Park Arena 4,000
New South Wales colours.svg
Gloucestershire All Golds 1999 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Prince of Wales Stadium 480
Hemel Stags 1981 Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire Pennine Way 2,000
Keighley Cougars 1876 Keighley, West Yorkshire Cougar Park 7,800
London Skolars 1995 Haringey, London New River Stadium 5,000
Newcastle Thunder 1999 Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Kingston Park 10,200
North Wales Crusaders 2011 Wrexham, Wales Racecourse Ground 15,500
Oldham Roughyeds 1876 Oldham, Greater Manchester Whitebank Stadium 1,500
Oxford RLFC 2012 Oxford, Oxfordshire Iffley Road 500
Rochdale colours.svg
Rochdale Hornets 1866 Rochdale, Greater Manchester Spotland 10,000
South Wales Scorpions 2009 Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales Parc Dyffryn Pennar
Swinton Lions 1866 Swinton, Greater Manchester Leigh Sports Village 11,000
York City Knights 1868 York, North Yorkshire Huntington Stadium 3,428

*capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.


The RFL planned to expand semi-professional rugby league outside the game's heartlands from 2013 onwards. Sixteen clubs expressed interest in joining the professional ranks, out of those the RFL picked seven as potential inclusions; Medway Dragons, Hemel Stags, Bristol/Gloucester, Coventry Bears, Chester Gladiators, Northampton Rebels and Oxford RLFC.

Northampton Rebels were announced as the first expansion team on 1 December 2011[1] but withdrew on 26 August 2012, due to Northampton Town FC, who were setting up and running the team, not wanting to launch a team that they thought had no chance of success.[2]

On 21 February 2012, semi-professional side Hemel Stags was confirmed as a Championship 1 team from 2013.[3] Unlike Northampton, Hemel Stags already had a history of playing rugby league, having being established in 1981 and moved up from Division Three of the National Conference League.

In May 2012, the next team was chosen for entry to the 2013 Championship 1, which was the University of Gloucestershire All-Golds. The team, who has been playing in British Universities and Colleges Sport Super 6 League and is run by the University of Gloucestershire,[4] has close links to the Leeds Rhinos, who helped develop rugby league in the Gloucestershire area and also recruited Brian Noble as a coaching consultant.[5]

Following Northampton's decision to withdrawn from Championship 1, two more teams were to be drawn for the 2013 season.[2] The first of those two was Oxford Rugby League, who was selected on 18 September 2012.[6] The new Oxford team played at Iffley Road, which is also the home of the University of Oxford's rugby league team. The club was initially coached by ex-Leigh and Oldham coach Tony Benson.

The final team announced were Coventry Bears in September 2012, however it was decided that they would join from the 2014 season to give them additional time to prepare.[7] This means that the 2013 Championship 1 season only had nine teams in the division. However Coventry Bears remained in the National Conference League Division 3 for the 2014 season and finally joined in 2015.

Promotion and relegation between the two competitions resumed from the 2013 season. Minimum standards for entry, such as a 3,000 stadium capacity, will apply in the 14-club Championship.

Confirmed expansion clubs
Team Date Stadium Capacity City/Area
Hemel Stags[3] 21 February 2012 Pennine Way 2,000 England Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Gloucestershire All-Golds[4] 9 May 2012 Prince of Wales Stadium 480 England Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Oxford Rugby League[6] 18 September 2012 Iffley Road 500 England Oxford, Oxfordshire
Coventry Bears[6] 2015 Coventry 500 England Coventry, West Midlands

Broadcasting rights[edit]

Setanta Sports Australia broadcasts live Co-op Championship matches in Australia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Northampton Town FC to run rugby league team from 2013". BBC Sport. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Northampton Rebels team withdraw from Championship One". BBC Sport. 25 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Hemel Join Rugby League Championship 1". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "All Golds to join Championship One". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Gloucestershire All Golds to join Championship One in 2013". BBC Sport. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Oxford to be admitted to Championship One". BBC Sport. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Coventry Bears: Midlands amateur side targeted as semi-pro club". BBC Sport. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 

External links[edit]