National Conference League

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National Conference League
Ncl logo.jpg
Country  England
Founded 1986
Number of teams 40 in total
11 (Premier Division)
14 (Division One)
13 (Division Two)
10 (Division Three)
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to League 1 via application to RFL
Relegation to Pennine League
Yorkshire League
North West Counties League
Cumberland League
Hull & District League
North West Men's League
Cumberland League
Midlands Rugby League
North East Rugby League
South West Rugby League
West of England Rugby League
East Men's League
South Premier
London & South East Men's League
Barrow & District League
Scotland Scottish Conference
Wales North Wales Conference
Wales South Wales Premiership
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
Current champions
Australian colours.svg West Hull (Premier Division)
Rhinoscolours.svg Oulton Raiders (Division One)
Hunter colours.svg Kells (Division Two)
Barrowcolours.svg Featherstone Lions (Division Three)

The Kingstone Press 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.


Premier Division clubs
Club City
West Hull Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Wath Brow Hornets
Siddal Halifax, West Yorkshire
Castleford Lock Lane Castleford, West Yorkshire
Thatto Heath Crusaders St Helens, Merseyside
Leigh Miners Rangers Leigh, Greater Manchester
Oulton Raiders Leeds, West Yorkshire
East Leeds Leeds, West Yorkshire
Egremont Rangers Egremont, Cumbria
Rochdale Mayfield Rochdale, Lancashire
Wigan St Patricks Wigan, Lancashire

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

Division One clubs
Club City
Myton Warriors Hull, East Yorkshire
Shaw Cross sharks
Normanton Knights Normanton, West Yorkshire
Ince Rose Bridge Manchester, Greater Manchester
York Acorn York, North Yorkshire
Saddleworth Rangers
Milford Marlins Leeds, West Yorkshire
Hunslet Warriors Leeds, West Yorkshire
Hull Dockers Hull, East Yorkshire
Skirlaugh Roachdale, Lancashire
Wigan St Judes Wigan, Lancashire
Kells Whitehaven, Cumbria
Elland Halifax, West Yorkshire

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

Division Two clubs
Club City
Pilkington Recs St Helens, Merseyside
Bradford Dudley Hill Bradford, West Yorkshire
Ovenden Halifax, West Yorkshire
Leigh East Leigh, Lancashire
Oldham St Anne's Oldham, Greater Manchester
Stanley Rangers Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Askham Askham, Cumbria
Featherstone Lions Featherstone, West Yorkshire
Blackbrook Blackbrook, Chesire
Eccles Eccles, Greater Manchester
Dewsbury Celtic Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
Millom Millom, Cumbria

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

Division Three clubs
Club City
Stanningley Leeds, West Yorkshire
Castleford Panthers Castleford, West Yorkshire
Underbank Rangers
Woolston Rovers
Eastmoor Dragons
Peterlee Pumas Peterlee, County Durham

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

Past winners[edit]

Premier Division[edit]

League Season Champions
National League First Division 1986-87 Hewford
1987-88 Milford Marlins
1988-89 West Hull
1989-90 Bradford Dudley Hill
1990-91 Leigh East
1991-92 Wigan St Patricks
1992-93 Saddleworth Rangers
National Conference League Premier 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 Premier Grand Final 2001-02 West Hull
2002-03 Siddal
2003-04 Siddal
2004-05 Leigh Miners
2005-06 Oulton Raiders
2006-07 Skirlaugh
2007-08 East Hull
2008-09 Siddal
2009-10 Leigh East
2010-11 Thatto Heath Crusaders
2011 Hunslet Warriors
2012 Wath Brow Hornets
2013 Thatto Heath Crusaders
2014 West Hull

Division One[edit]

League Season Champions
National Conference League Division One 1993-94 Hewford
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 Mayfeild
2007-08 Wigan St Judes
2008-09 Wath Brow Hornets
2009-10 Thatto Heath Crusaders
2010-11 Oulton Raiders
2012 Egremont Rangers
2013 East Leeds
2014 Oulton Raiders

Division Two[edit]

League Season Champions
National League Third Division 1989-90 Saddleworth Rangers
1990-91 Barrow
1991-92 West Hull
1992-93 Mayfield
National Conference League Division Two 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
2010-11 Hunslet Warriors
2012 East Leeds
2013 Normanton Knights
2014 Kells

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]