Championship (rugby league)
|Number of teams||12|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Super League|
|Relegation to||Kingstone Press League 1|
|Domestic cup(s)||Challenge Cup|
|TV partners||Sky Sports|
The Championship, known as the Kingstone Press Championship after its title sponsor Kingstone Press Cider, is a professional rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom. It acts as the country's second-tier competition below the Super League, and has a system of promotion and relegation with the third-tier competition, League 1. It is organized by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in the UK. In 2015 it will be contested by twelve teams from England: 9 teams from the 2014 Kingstone Press Championship, 2014 Championship One champions Hunslet Hawks and the 2 relegated Super League teams, Bradford Bulls and the London Broncos.
The current incarnation of second division rugby league in Europe dates to 2003, when the Northern Ford Premiership was split 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. The current champions are Grand Final winners Leigh Centurions.
- 1 History
- 2 Structure
- 3 The Summer Bash
- 4 Clubs
- 5 Media
- 6 Reserve Grade
- 7 Juniors
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Second division rugby league competitions in the United Kingdom have been played at various times since 1902, and have been in place annually since 1973. In 1999 the second-tier competition below the Super League was renamed the Northern Ford Premiership (NFP) when Northern Ford Dealers acquired the naming rights.
In 2003, the NFP was completely re-organised into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten of the NFP joined National League One and the bottom eight 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 (who had folded mid-season) and also 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. In 2009, with the introduction of Toulouse into the competition, the title "National League" was no longer appropriate. From the 2009 season the competition will be known as the Championship, with The Co-operative continuing their sponsorship of the competition. This addition raised the number of teams in the competition to 11.
The record crowd for a club game at this level of competition was set in 2008 at the Stobart Stadium when Widnes defeated Salford 20–18 in front of 8,189. The crowd record for regular season attendance was also broken in 2008 with an average of 2,205 spectators at each game.
- See also Rugby Football League Championship Second Division for winners of the old Second Division.
National League 1 (2002-2008)
Between 2002 and 2008 teams in the second division of English rugby league were able to be promoted into Super League and relegated to the National League 1. One team was promoted to Super League and on team was relegated from Super League each year apart from 2008 when two teams were promoted to expand Super League to 14 teams. The National League was replaced by The Championship in 2009.
|Season||Sponsorship||League Leaders||Promoted||Relegated||Relegated from Super League||League 2 Champions||League 2 Runners Up|
|2003||Co-Operative||Salford City Reds||Salford City Reds||Dewsbury Rams||Halifax||Keighley Cougars||none|
|2004||Leigh Centurions||Leigh Centurions||Keighley Cougars||Castleford Tigers||Barrow Raiders||none|
|2005||Whitehaven||Castleford Tigers||Barrow Raiders
|York City Knights||none|
|2006||Hull Kingston Rovers||Hull Kingston Rovers||Oldham Roughyeds
York City Knights
|Castleford Tigers||Dewsbury Rams||Sheffield Eagles|
|2007||Castleford Tigers||Castleford Tigers||Rochdale Hornets
|Salford City Reds||Celtic Crusaders||Featherstone Rovers|
|2008||Salford City Reds||Salford City Reds
|Dewsbury Rams||N/A||Gateshead Thunder||Barrow Raiders
The Championship, Licensing and Playoffs (2009-2014)
After the 2009 season there was longer an automatic promotion or relegation from Super League. New teams will be admitted on a franchise basis. Reviews of franchises will take place every three years to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful. However the licensing system has proven to be an unwelcome system by many top championship clubs. Many supporters were left shocked when Halifax were denied a place in super league for cash strapped Super League side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. During the 2012 season Leigh Mp and Leigh Centurions honorary Vice President Andy Burnham and Fetherstone Rovers coach Daryl Powell called for a return to the old Promotion and Relegation system, describing the current system as a closed shop.
From 2009 through 2011, and again from 2013 on, two teams are relegated from the Championship to Championship 1. Teams in league positions 2 to 7 in Championship 1 will qualify for the playoffs, with the winner of the playoff final being promoted, along with the team positioned first after the regular season, to the Championship.
In 2012 only, there was no relegation from the Championship. The RFL then announced that the Championship will be expanded to 14 teams beginning with the 2013 season. To accommodate this, the top four teams in the 2012 Championship 1 will be promoted, with four new clubs added to that competition for 2013.
A play-off structure was used to determine the winners of the Championship. Two teams were relegated from the Championship (except in 2012), being replaced by the team finishing top of Championship 1 and the winner of a play-off structure involving the six teams finishing behind the league leaders in Championship 1. The Championship play-offs would be followed by the Championship Grand Final to decide who were the champions.
|Season||Sponsorship||Grand Final Winners||League Leaders||Successful Super League Applicant||Relegated from Super League||Relegated||Championship 1 Winners|
|2009||Co-Operative||Barrow Raiders||Barrow Raiders||N/A||N/A||Doncaster
|2010||Halifax||Featherstone Rovers||N/A||N/A||Keighley Cougars
York City Knights
|2011||Featherstone Rovers||Featherstone Rovers||Widnes Vikings||N/A||Barrow Raiders
|2012||Sheffield Eagles||Featherstone Rovers||N/A||N/A||N/A League expansion in 2013||Doncaster
|2013||Kingstone Press Cider||Sheffield Eagles||Featherstone Rovers||N/A||N/A||York City Knights
|North Wales Crusaders
|2014||Leigh Centurions||Leigh Centurions||N/A||Bradford Bulls
North Wales Crusaders
Reintroducing Promotion to Super League (2015-Onwards)
From 2015 the top four teams in the Championship and the bottom four teams in Super League at the end of the regular season take part in the Super 8s where they form a league of eight. The eight teams play each other once (home or away). The top three automatically gain a place in the next seasons Super League while fourth and fifth will play each other in the Million Pound Game to determine who gains the last Super League place. The bottom half of the a Championship will play each other in a playoff for the Championship Shield. Two teams will be relegated each year.
|Season||Sponsorship||League Leaders||Promoted||Relegated||Relegated from Super League||Promoted from League 1||Championship Shield Winner|
|2015||Kingstone Press Cider||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBA|
- Bold - Winners decided by Grand Final
- The Qualifiers
The Qualifiers Super 8's sees the bottom 4 teams from the original Super League table mixed with the top 4 teams from the Championship. The points totals are reset to 0 and each team plays 7 games each, playing every other team once. After 7 games each the teams finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd will gain qualification to the next years Super League season. the teams finishing 4th and 5th will play in the "Million Pound Game" at the home of the 4th place team. This one game fixture will see the winner earn a place in the next year Super League season, whilst the loser, along with teams finishing 6th, 7th and 8th will be relegated to the next years Championship competition.
|Position||Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Pts for||Pts agst||Points|
|1||Automatic Super League Place||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2||Automatic Super League Place||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|3||Automatic Super League Place||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|4||Million Pound Game||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|5||Million Pound Game||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Teams qualifying for next years Super League .|
|Teams qualifying for the "Million Pound Game" to earn a Super League Place|
|Teams relegated to the Championship for next season|
- Championship Shield
The remaining 8 teams in the Championship who do not make the top 8 will carry the points they earn in the regular season forward and play each other once more. The top four teams will then enter a playoff for the Championship Shield. The bottom 2 teams will then be relegated to League 1.
|Position||Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Pts for||Pts agst||Points|
|Teams qualifying for Championship Shield playoffs.|
|Teams will play in next seasons Championship|
|Teams relegated League 1 for next season|
From 2009-2014 a bonus point was awarded in the Championship
- Win – Three points
- Draw – Two points
- Loss by 12 points or fewer – One point
This point structure has many benefits as it offers clubs a tangible reward for strong, consistent performance over 80 minutes, the system encourages teams to keep competing in games that they may not be able to win which gives clubs the opportunity to make a positive impact on their League position.
The system encourages teams to be consistent in all their matches throughout the season. This stimulates players and teams which has a positive impact on the intensity and the standards of the sport at this level.
The RFL commissioned a study prior to introducing this new system. The study examined what would happen if the new system had applied in previous National League seasons. The results showed the system did not disproportionately distort competition tables or give teams that lost matches too great a reward. Also, the system does not exacerbate the gap between strong and weak
From 2015 the bonus point was scrapped.
- Win – Two points
- Draw – One points
The Summer Bash
|Stadium||Location||Country||Highest attendance||Average attendance|
||Batley Bulldogs||1880||Batley, West Yorkshire||Foxs Biscuits Stadium||7,500|
||Bradford Bulls||1907||Bradford, West Yorkshire||Provident Stadium||27,491|
||Dewsbury Rams||1898||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||The Tetley's Stadium||5,100|
||Doncaster RLFC||1951||Doncaster, South Yorkshire||Keepmoat Stadium||15,231|
||Featherstone Rovers||1902||Featherstone, West Yorkshire||Post Office Road||6,750|
||Halifax RLFC||1873||Halifax, West Yorkshire||The Shay||14,000|
||Hunslet Hawks||1883||Leeds, West Yorkshire||South Leeds Stadium||4,000|
||Leigh Centurions||1878||Leigh, Greater Manchester||Leigh Sports Village||11,000|
||London Broncos||1980||Edgware, London||The Hive||5,176|
||Sheffield Eagles||1984||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||Keepmoat Stadium||15,231|
||Whitehaven RLFC||1948||Whitehaven, Cumbria||Recreation Ground||7,500|
||Workington Town||1945||Workington, Cumbria||Zebra Claims Stadium||10,000|
- *capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.
- Gold - current Champions
From 2012 onwards a game from every round of the Championship will be broadcast live on Thursday's on Premier Sports.
The reserve grade for Championship and Championship 1 clubs is the Reserve Team First Division. Participation is optional but twelve clubs run a reserve team in it, plus London Skolars run a reserve team in the Rugby League Conference Premier South.
The London Broncos u19s currently compete in the Super League Academy.
While there is no under-18s league for Championship clubs, Widnes Vikings and as of 2011 Featherstone Rovers run their under-18s in the Super League Academy and Gateshead Thunder, Keighley Cougars and Sheffield Eagles run their under-18s in the Gillette National Youth League.
- British rugby league system
- Super League
- Rugby League Conference
- Northern Ford Premiership
- Championship Cup
- Rugby League Reserve Team Championship
- BBC Sport (19 May 2005). "Super League set for 2009 changes". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
- Official Championship website
- RFL Championship coverage
- Scores from Sky Sports
- RugbyLeague.org Championship Fans Forums