Championship (rugby league)
|Current season or competition::
2018 Rugby League Championship
|Instituted||2008–present (as the Championship)
2003–2007 (as National League One)
|Number of teams||12|
|Countries|| England (10 teams)
France (1 team)
Canada (1 team)
|Champions||Hull KR (2nd title) (2017)|
|Most titles||Leigh Centurions (4 titles)|
|Website||kingstone press leagues|
|Broadcast partner||Sky Sports|
|Related competition||Challenge Cup|
|Promotion to||Super League|
|Relegation to||League 1|
The Championship (referred to as the Kingstone Press Championship for sponsorship reasons) is a professional rugby league competition predominately based in England. It is the second-tier competition organised by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in the UK, and currently consists of 12 teams with promotion to the Super League and relegation to the third-tier competition, League 1. The current champions are Hull Kingston Rovers.
From 2003 to 2009, the league was known as National League One.
- 1 History
- 2 Clubs
- 3 Structure
- 4 Results
- 5 Sponsor
- 6 Media
- 7 Academies
- 8 Match officials
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
1902–1973: Establishment and regular competition
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. When Super League began in 1996, the second division continued to operate a system of promotion and relegation with the new competition. 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.
2002–2008: National Leagues
In 2003, the NFP was re-organised into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten league positions of the 2002 Northern Ford Premiership 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, and York City Knights, who replaced the defunct York Wasps (who had folded mid-season in 2002) and also joined National League Two in 2003, creating two ten-team leagues which operated a system of promotion and relegation between themselves while also maintaining the promotion and relegation between National League One and Super League. 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, however this never eventuated.
In 2009 Super League was expanded to 14 teams, with two additional teams being promoted from National League One. In turn, two additional teams were promoted from National League Two to National League One at the end of the 2008 season, reducing the number of teams in National League Two to 10. National Leagues One and Two were then rebranded as the Championship and Championship 1 respectively, with the change being implemented in time for the 2009 season. Championship 1 was later rebranded to League 1. During this period, a system of licensing was put in place which meant there was no automatic system of promotion and relegation between the Championship and Super League, although promotion and relegation continued between the Championship and League 1. Widnes Vikings were promoted to Super League from the Championship via the licensing system in 2011.
The record crowd for a club game at this level of competition was set in 2017 at KCOM Craven Park for the opening fixture of the season between Hull Kingston Rovers and Bradford Bulls with Rovers winning 54-24 in front of a crowd of 8,817. The crowd record for regular season attendance was also broken in 2008 with an average of 2,205 spectators at each game.
2015–Present: Super 8s
In 2013, Super League clubs agreed to reduce the number of clubs in the competition to 12 and return to an amended system of promotion and relegation with a 12-club Championship competition. These changes came into effect for the 2015 season.
Under the amended structure, the 12 Super League and 12 Championship clubs play a regular season of 23 rounds, including a Magic Weekend for both divisions. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 24 clubs then compete in a play-off series where they split into 3 divisions of 8 based upon league position:
- The bottom 4 Super League clubs and the top 4 Championship clubs compete in The Qualifiers. They play each other once (either home or away) to determine which four of the clubs will compete in Super League the following year.
- The remaining (bottom 8) Championship clubs compete for the Championship Shield and to avoid relegation to League 1. Two clubs will be relegated each year.
||Barrow Raiders||1875||Barrow, Cumbria||Craven Park||7,600|
||Batley Bulldogs||1880||Batley, West Yorkshire||Mount Pleasant||7,500|
||Dewsbury Rams||1898||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||Crown Flatt||5,800|
||Featherstone Rovers||1902||Featherstone, West Yorkshire||Post Office Road||8,000|
||Halifax||1873||Halifax, West Yorkshire||The Shay||14,000|
||Leigh Centurions||1878||Leigh, Greater Manchester||Leigh Sports Village||12,000|
||London Broncos||1980||Ealing, London||Trailfinders Sports Ground||3,176|
||Rochdale Hornets||1866||Rochdale, Greater Manchester||Spotland||10,000|
||Sheffield Eagles||1999||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||Olympic Legacy Park||3,000|
||Swinton Lions||1866||Sale, Greater Manchester||Heywood Road||3,387|
||Toronto Wolfpack||2016||Toronto, Ontario||Lamport Stadium||9,600|
||Toulouse Olympique||1937||Toulouse, Haute-Garonne||Stade Ernest-Argeles||4,000|
- *capacity for rugby league games may differ from official stadium capacity.
The 12 teams compete in the Championship. They play each other once home and away interrupted by the Summer Bash. Two points are awarded for a win and one for a draw. After the 23 rounds the top four teams play the bottom four teams in the Super League in the Qualifiers. The bottom eight teams play each other for the Championship Shield.
|Stadium||Location||Country||Highest attendance||Average attendance|
- The Qualifiers
The Qualifiers Super 8s 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.
|1||Super League Place|
|2||Super League Place|
|3||Super League Place|
|4||Million Pound Game|
|5||Million Pound Game|
- 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.
|5||Unable to Qualify for Play-offs|
|6||Unable to Qualify for Play-offs|
||4||2004, 2014, 2015, 2016|
- Bold – Winners decided by Grand Final
The Championship has had four sponsors since 1995. Between 2003 and 2008 it was called the LHF Healthplan National League 1 before it was renamed the Championship in 2009 and sponsored by Cooperative.
|2003–2008||LHF Healthplan[disambiguation needed]||LHF Healthplan National League 1|
|2009–2012||Cooperative Group||Cooperative Championship|
|2013–2017||Kingstone Press Cider||Kingstone Press Championship|
Sky Sports and Premier Sports shared the TV rights to the Championship between 2008 and 2012. After Sky only showed the Championship and Championship 1 Grand Finals while games were broadcast on Premier Sports until 2013. There was no TV coverage in the Championship in 2014. In 2015 Sky Sports won the rights to show the Championship including The Summer Bash, Championship Shield and The Qualifiers in a seven-year deal.
(Grand Final Only)
Regional radio stations have coverage of the Championship clubs but mostly only cover Super League clubs in the same area and give updates of Championship scores and results.
In 2014 and 2015 Super League clubs were unhappy with the Dual registration system and wanted to form a Under 23 reserve leagues between the Under 19s and 1st team. Wigan, Warrington and St Helens were the first teams to propose the return of the reserve league where players could move from the under 19s and play with professional players before playing in the 1st team. A reserve league was set up in 2016 with a mixture of Super League, Championship and League 1 teams.
Clubs in both the Super League and the Championships benefit from the new dual registration system which was introduced for the 2013 season. The new system is intended to complement the existing player loan system.
Dual registration refers to an arrangement between clubs whereby a player continues to be registered to his current Super League club and is also registered to play for a club in the Championship. The system is aimed at young Super League players who are thought to be not quite ready to make the step up to ‘week in, week out’ Super League first team duties but for whom first team match experience is likely to be beneficial for their development.
- Only Super League players can be dual registered and the receiving club must be a club in the Championships, meaning that Super League to Super League club dual registrations are not available.
- A dual registered player will be eligible to play and train with both clubs in a format agreed between the clubs, subject to registration, salary cap and competition eligibility rules.
- The player is restricted to playing in one fixture per scheduled round of fixtures in any given week and would not be eligible to play for his Super League club on a Thursday and in a Championship fixture at the weekend, for example.
- A receiving club will be limited to a total of five dual registered players per matchday squad.
All rugby league matches are governed by the laws set out by the RFL; these laws are enforced by match officials. Former Super League and International Referee Steve Ganson is the current Acting Head of the Match Officials Department and Technical Director. Former Hull F.C. player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp was the previous Head of the Match Officials Department of the RFL. Sharp was sacked in July 2015 and took up the role of Head Coach at Featherstone Rovers. He assumed his role at the RFL following Stuart Cummings' departure in March 2013 having previously held the role of Match Officials Coach & Technical Director.
- British rugby league system
- Super League
- Rugby League Conference
- Northern Ford Premiership
- Championship Cup
- Rugby League Reserve Team Championship
- "Operational Rules". RFL. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- Super League to become a 12-team competition from 2015. Superleague.co.uk (11 July 2013). Retrieved on 20 August 2013.
- BBC Sport (19 May 2005). "Super League set for 2009 changes". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.