National Conference League

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National Conference League
Current season or competition:
National Conference League (competition logo).jpg
National Conference League competition logo
Sport Rugby league football
Instituted 1986
Chair Trevor Hunt
Number of teams 40
Country England
Champions West Hull (2013)
Most titles West Hull (1 Title)
Related competition Conference League South

The National Conference League is the top league in the pyramid of the RFL community leagues. The National Conference was a 'winter' league but voted to switch to a summer season for the 2012 season.

Relationship between NCL and other leagues[edit]

The five regional leagues beneath the NCL are the Pennine League, the Yorkshire League, the North West Counties League, the Cumberland League and the Hull & District League. There is also a Barrow & District League, however this is nearly all reserve sides with the odd team that can not afford the travelling costs involved in competing in the North West Counties League. Teams from these regional leagues can apply for election to the National Conference League if they meet stringent minimum criteria.

Somewhat confusingly, another major summer amateur competition for clubs is also titled conference: the Rugby League Conference (RLC). The NCL is seen as being the top division for 'traditional' clubs from the 'heartland' areas of rugby league, whilst the RLC consists mostly of clubs from other areas of the country. The move to a summer season by the NCL in 2012 and a reorganisation by the RFL resulted in the creation of an NCL 3rd division out of the old Rugby League Conference National Division which was replaced by the Conference League South in 2013.

There is no formal link from the NCL to any semi-professional league, as all professional rugby league in the UK is now played in the summer. Some NCL clubs have however chosen to "move across" to the summer structure in order to progress towards the professional ranks, one example of this being Warrington Wizards (who formerly competed in the NCL as Woolston Rovers) and Featherstone Lions (accepted by National League three). Bradford Dudley Hill have applied to switch from National League Three back to the NCL, with their application accepted in summer 2006.

Many of the players from the amateur BARLA teams go on to play for teams in Super League, the Championship or Championship 1, though this is not as common as in the past as professional sides now run their own academy sides rather than relying on recruitment from local BARLA clubs.


The league was founded as the BARLA National League for the 1986/1987 season with 10 teams: Dudley Hill, Egremont Rangers, Heworth, Leigh Miners Welfare (now Leigh Miners Rangers), Milford Marlins, Millom, Pilkington Recs, West Hull, Wigan St Patrick's and Woolston Rovers. The original NCL concept was one team per town.

The league added a second division in 1989, and expanded to three divisions (now named premier, first and second as opposed to first and second) along with a rebrand to the current name of National Conference League in 1993.

The National Conference League launched a series of Summer Divisions in 2009 but failed to repeat its summer experiment in 2010 leading three clubs: East Leeds, Milford Marlins and Shaw Cross Sharks to join the Rugby League Conference.

The NCL voted for a summer season in 2011 and acquired a third division made up from the National Division of the Rugby League Conference.


The National Conference League consists of three divisions of up to fourteen teams each, titled the Premier Division, Division One and Division Two. There is promotion and relegation between each division of three up and three down. The bottom two teams from Division Two face re-election, but usually they are both re-elected as enough teams resign from the league to allow new teams entry.

In the 2012 season, there is a Division Three with ten sides without automatic promotion to Division Two.

NB:South Wales Hornets were brought in as replacements for Valley Cougars

Past winners[edit]

National League First Division Champions[edit]

  • 1986–87 Heworth
  • 1987–88 Milford
  • 1988–89 West Hull
  • 1989–90 Dudley Hill
  • 1990–91 Leigh East
  • 1991–92 Wigan St Patricks
  • 1992–93 Saddleworth Rangers

National Conference League Premier Division Champions[edit]

  • 1993–94 Woolston Rovers
  • 1994–95 Woolston Rovers
  • 1995–96 Woolston Rovers
  • 1996–97 West Hull
  • 1997–98 Egremont Rangers
  • 1998–99 West Hull
  • 1999-00 West Hull
  • 2000–01 West Hull

National Conference League Grand Final Champions[edit]

  • 2001–02 West Hull
  • 2002–03 Siddal
  • 2003–04 Siddal
  • 2004–05 Leigh Miners Rangers
  • 2005–06 Oulton Raiders
  • 2006–07 Skirlaugh
  • 2007–08 East Hull
  • 2008–09 Siddal
  • 2009–10 Leigh East
  • 2010–11 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2011 interim season Hunslet Warriors
  • 2012 Wath Brow Hornets

National Conference League First Division Champions[edit]

  • 1993–94 Heworth
  • 1994–95 Millom
  • 1995–96 Beverley
  • 1996–97 Askam
  • 1997–98 Skirlaugh
  • 1998–99 Redhill
  • 1999-00 Oulton Raiders
  • 2000–01 Leigh East
  • 2001–02 West Bowling
  • 2002–03 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2003–04 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2004–05 Shaw Cross Sharks
  • 2005–06 West Hull
  • 2006–07 Rochdale Mayfield
  • 2007–08 Wigan St. Judes
  • 2008–09 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2009–10 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2010–11 Oulton Raiders
  • 2012 Egremont Rangers

National Conference League Second Division Champions[edit]

  • 1989–90 Saddleworth Rangers
  • 1990–91 Barrow Island
  • 1991–92 West Hull
  • 1992–93 Mayfield
  • 1993–94 Oldham St Annes
  • 1994–95 Eastmoor Dragons
  • 1995–96 Wigan St Judes
  • 1996–97 Redhill
  • 1997–98 Featherstone Lions
  • 1998–99 Ideal Isberg
  • 1999-00 Eastmoor Dragons
  • 2000–01 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2001–02 Crosfields
  • 2002–03 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2003–04 East Hull
  • 2004–05 Ince Rose Bridge
  • 2005–06 Castleford Panthers
  • 2006–07 Waterhead
  • 2007–08 Millom
  • 2008–09 Myton Warriors
  • 2009–10 Eccles & Salford Juniors
  • 2010–11 Hunslet Warriors
  • 2012 East Leeds

National Conference League Third Division Champions[edit]

National Conference League Challenge Cup[edit]

1987–88 Leigh Miners Rangers 15–0 Milford
1988–89 Egremont Rangers 2–0 Wigan St Patricks
1989–90 Wigan St Patricks 11–6 Askam
1990–91 Millom 14–13 Dudley Hill
1991–92 Wigan St Patricks 14–12 Saddleworth Rangers
1992–93 Saddleworth Rangers 25–10 Askam
1993–94 Heworth 22–4 Blackbrook

See also[edit]

External links[edit]