|Current season or competition:
2014 Championship 1
|Sport||Rugby league football|
|Formerly known as||National League 2|
|Number of teams||9|
|Countries|| England (Rugby Football League)
|Champions||North Wales Crusaders (2013)|
|Broadcast partner||Premier Sports|
Championship 1, known as Kingstone Press Championship 1 due to sponsorship by the Kingstone Press Cider, is a rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom. It acts as the country's third-tier competition behind the Championship, with which it has a system of promotion and relegation. In 2014 it will be contested by nine teams, eight from England and one from Wales. It is organised by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in the UK.
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 Championship 1, respectively. The current champions are Sheffield, who beat Featherstone in the 2012 Championship Grand Final and Doncaster, who came top of the pile of 4 promoted sides and also won the Grand Final beating Whitehaven
Championship 1 teams are only allowed one quota player, other than Gateshead Thunder and London Skolars, to compensate for the lack of amateur clubs outside the rugby league heartlands from which to recruit.
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.
Championship 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 Championship 1. Two Championship 1 teams are promoted: the team finishing top of the competition, and the winner of a top six play-offs competition between the six teams finishing behind the league leaders.
There is no promotion or relegation between Championship 1 and the Rugby League Conference at the present; current RFL policy is to expand the top two leagues gradually over time. As yet no clubs have been admitted to Championship 1 from the Rugby League Conference since the London Skolars though Hemel Stags will join in 2013 and Coventry Bears in 2014.
A cup competition, the National League Cup, is played for by all clubs in the Championship and Championship 1; in 2005 four National League Three clubs were also admitted, in 2006 five League Three teams were admitted. The teams are organised into regional conferences, with knock-out stages following from the group stage. In 2007 four Rugby League Conference teams are scheduled to be included.
From 2007 the competition used a new points system:
Win – three points; Draw – two points; Loss by 12 points or fewer - one point.
|Team & Current Season||2013 Position||Stadium||Capacity||Location|
|Gateshead Thunder||7th||Thunderdome||11,800||Gateshead, Tyne and Wear|
|Gloucestershire All Golds||9th||Prince of Wales Stadium||480||Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Hemel Stags||5th||Pennine Way||2,000||Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire|
|London Skolars||4th||New River Stadium||5,000||Haringey, London|
|Hunslet Hawks||13th (Championship)||South Leeds Stadium||4,000||Hunslet, West Yorkshire|
|Oldham Roughyeds||2nd||Whitebank Stadium||1,500 (temporary capacity)||Limeside, Oldham, Greater Manchester|
|Oxford RLFC||6th||Iffley Road||500||Oxford, Oxfordshire|
|South Wales Scorpions||8th||Llynfi Road||Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan, Wales|
|York City Knights||14th (Championship)||Huntington Stadium||3,428||Huntington, York, North Yorkshire|
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 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.
On 21 February 2012, semi-professional side Hemel Stags was confirmed as a Championship 1 team from 2013. Unlike Northampton, Hemel Stags already has a history of playing in rugby league, having being established in 1981 and will move 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 will be run by the University of Gloucestershire, has close links to the Leeds Rhinos, who helped develop rugby league in the Gloucestershire area and also have recruited Brian Noble as a coaching consultant.
Following Northampton's decision to withdrawn from Championship 1, two more teams were to be drawn for the 2013 season. The first of those two was Oxford RL, who was selected on 18 September 2012. The new Oxford team will play at Iffley Road, which is also the home of the University of Oxford's rugby league team. The club will be 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. This means that the 2013 Championship 1 season will only have nine teams in the division. However despite no press release Coventry Bears have not been included in the 2014 fixtures and have remained in their current league National Conference League Division 3. This may be due to the restructuring and reducing of teams in the top two divisions for 2015 however nothing has been officially confirmed.
Promotion and relegation between the two competitions will resume 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|
|Hemel Stags||21 February 2012||Pennine Way||2,000||Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire|
|Gloucestershire All-Golds||9 May 2012||Prince of Wales Stadium||480||Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Oxford Rugby League||18 September 2012||Iffley Road||500||Oxford, Oxfordshire|
|Season||Champions||Also promoted||Relegated from Championship||Wooden Spoon|
|2003||Keighley Cougars||none||Dewsbury Rams||London Skolars|
|2004||Barrow Raiders1||none||Keighley Cougars||Gateshead Thunder|
|2005||York City Knights1||none||Barrow Raiders
|2006||Dewsbury Rams1||Sheffield Eagles||Oldham Roughyeds
York City Knights
|2007||Celtic Crusaders||Featherstone Rovers||Rochdale Hornets
|2008||Gateshead Thunder||Barrow Raiders
|Dewsbury Rams||Hunslet Hawks|
|2009||Dewsbury Rams||Keighley Cougars||Gateshead Thunder
|2010||Hunslet Hawks||York City Knights||Whitehaven
|2011||Swinton Lions||Keighley Cougars||Toulouse Olympique(although they will not be in the Championship 1)
|2012||Doncaster RLFC||Barrow Raiders
|2013||North Wales Crusaders||Rochdale Hornets||York City Knights
Setanta Sports Australia broadcasts live Co-op Championship matches in Australia.
- British rugby league system
- Super League
- Rugby League Conference
- Northern Ford Premiership
- National League Cup
- "RFL introduces new points system". BBC Sport. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Northampton Town FC to run rugby league team from 2013". BBC Sport. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Northampton Rebels team withdraw from Championship One". BBC Sport. 25 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Hemel Join Rugby League Championship 1". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "All Golds to join Championship One". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Gloucestershire All Golds to join Championship One in 2013". BBC Sport. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Oxford to be admitted to Championship One". BBC Sport. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- "Coventry Bears: Midlands amateur side targeted as semi-pro club". BBC Sport. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
- Official Championship website
- RFL Championship coverage
- Scores from Sky Sports
- RugbyLeague.org Championship 1 Fans Forums