Rugby League Conference

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Rugby League Conference
Rugby League Conference competition logo
Sport Rugby league football
Formerly known as Southern Conference League
Instituted 1997
Replaced by 2012
Number of teams 115
Countries  England
 Scotland
 Wales
Champions Huddersfield Underbank Rangers (2011)
Website rugbyleagueconference.co.uk

The Rugby League Conference (RLC) (also known as the Co-operative Rugby League Conference as a result of sponsorship from The Co-operative Group), was a series of regionally based divisions of amateur rugby league teams spread throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

The RLC was founded as the 10-team Southern Conference League in 1997, with teams from the southern midlands and the south east, but has subsequently, rebranded and expanded both geographically and numerically to include around 90 teams stretched across almost the whole of Great Britain from Aberdeen in northern Scotland down to Plymouth on the south coast of England.

The aim of the RLC was initially to provide regular fixtures for new clubs based outside the 'heartland' of rugby league, although as the playing standards increased, it also accepted teams from the 'heartlands'. The hope is that, at least some of these clubs, would eventually progress to become semi-professional clubs that could one day join the 'traditional' clubs in Championship 1; to date only London Skolars have done so but Hemel Stags will join in 2013 and Coventry Bears in 2014.

With the top heartlands amateur league, the National Conference League voting to move to a summer season, the 2012 season saw a re-alignment of the amateur game and the Rugby League Conference was replaced with a series of regional leagues.

History[edit]

The Southern Conference League was founded as a 10-team competition in 1997. The following season it was rebranded as the Rugby League Conference due to its intentions to include teams from all non-heartland parts of the country and its even then inclusion of several teams outside the South.

The league steadily expanded over the first few seasons right up to the fringes of the heartlands, before expanding into Wales for the first time in 2001 with the addition of Cardiff Demons. The league expanded into the North East that same season.

In 2003 National League Three was founded including some of the stronger Rugby League Conference clubs and some BARLA clubs. This same season saw massive expansion of the Rugby League Conference including an entire Welsh division. The league also pushed its borders further including more teams from the less rugby league playing areas of the counties considered the heartlands and went as far south west as Somerset.

The league expanded further in 2004 by allowing entry to heartland clubs. For the 2005 season the competition was split into two tiers, with Premier divisions being created for above the existing regional divisions. The next major changes were in 2007 when National League Three (as the National Division) and the Scottish League became integral parts of the Rugby League Conference structure.

The Rugby League Conference celebrated passing the 100 club barrier in 2010.[1]

2011 was the last season before the league was split up into multiple leagues.

Representative fixtures[edit]

A selection is made for England Lionhearts who represent England in the Skanska Amateur Four Nations competition against national amateur sides from Wales, Scotland (players drawn from RLC teams) and Ireland (players from Rugby League Ireland).

Former divisions within the RLC[edit]

There were many changes in format of the Rugby League Conference as it expanded over time, here are the divisions that existed when the league was lasted competed for in 2011.

Successor leagues[edit]

Women's Rugby League Conference[edit]

In 2011 the following teams will play in the Women's Rugby League Conference:

Past winners[edit]

Rugby League Conference National[edit]

Harry Jepson Trophy[edit]

Main article: Harry Jepson Trophy

Until 2004, the Harry Jepson trophy was competed for by all the Conference sides. Between 2005 and 2011, it was competed for by the RLC Premier divisions.

From 2012 onwards, it has been contested by the non-heartlands successor leagues.

RLC Regional[edit]

The RLC Regional is open to English sides that are in the regional divisions rather than the Premier divisions. It was introduced in 2005.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]