National Conference League

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National Conference League
Founded 1986
Country  England
Confederation RFL
Divisions Premier Division
Division One
Division Two
Division Three
Number of teams 50
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to League 1 via application to RFL
Relegation to
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
League 1 Cup
Conference Challenge Trophy
Current champions

The National Conference League (known as the Kingstone Press National Conference League for sponsorship reasons) is the top British amateur rugby league competition in the Rugby Football League pyramid, and as such is the leading amateur rugby league competition in England. Since 2012, the National Conference operates over a summer season in line with the professional game.


The league was founded as the BARLA National League for the 1986–87 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.

Somewhat confusingly, in the late 1990s and 2000s another major amateur competition was also titled conference: the Rugby League Conference (RLC), which operated a summer season as opposed to the traditional winter season retained by the NCL. The move to a summer season by the NCL in 2012 and a reorganisation by the RFL resulted in a merger of the leagues and the creation of a new NCL 3rd division out of the old RLC National Division, which was replaced by the Conference League South in 2013.


The National Conference League consists of four divisions. Teams can be promoted and relegated through all four divisions, and teams can also be relegated from Division Three into the regional leagues.

Although it is considered the tier below League 1, teams are not promoted and relegated between the amateur NCL and the professional game, although NCL teams do play in the League 1 Cup and Challenge Cup.




Premier Division
12 clubs – 3 relegations


Division One
12 clubs – 3 promotions, 3 relegations


Division Two
12 clubs – 3 promotions, 2 relegations


Division Three
14 clubs – 3 promotions, 2 relegations


Premier Division Division One Division Two Division Three
Egremont Rangers Blackbrook Askam Barrow Island
Kells Castleford Lock Lane Bradford Dudley Hill Clock Face Miners
Leigh Miners Rangers Featherstone Lions Crosfields Dewsbury Celtic
Myton Warriors Hull Dockers Drighlington Dewsbury Moor Maroons
Pilkington Recs Hunslet Club Parkside East Leeds Eastmoor
Rochdale Mayfield Hunslet Warriors Leigh East Elland
Siddal Ince Rose Bridge Millom Gateshead Storm
Skirlaugh Milford Marlins Oulton Raiders Oldham St Annes
Thatto Heath Crusaders Normanton Knights Saddleworth Rangers Rylands
Wath Brow Hornets Shaw Cross Sharks Salford City Roosters Stanley Rangers
West Hull Underbank Rangers Thornhill Trojans Stanningley
Wigan St Patricks York Acorn Wigan St Judes Waterhead Warriors
West Bowling
Woolston Rovers


Season Premier Division Division One Division Two Division Three
1986–87 Heworth
1987–88 Milford Marlins
1988–89 West Hull
1989–90 Bradford Dudley Hill Saddleworth Rangers
1990–91 Leigh East Barrow
1991–92 Wigan St Patricks West Hull
1992–93 Saddleworth Rangers Rochdale Mayfield
1993–94 Woolston Rovers Heworth Oldham St Annes
1994–95 Woolston Rovers Millom Eastmoor Dragons
1995–96 Woolston Rovers Beverley Wigan St Judes
1996–97 West Hull Askam Redhill
1997–98 Egremont Rangers Skirlaugh Featherstone Lions
1998–99 West Hull Redhill Ideal Isberg
1999–00 West Hull Oulton Raiders Eastmoor Dragons
2000–01 West Hull Leigh East Thatto Heath Crusaders
2001–02 West Hull West Bowling Crosfield
2002–03 Siddal Thatto Heath Crusaders Wath Brow Hornets
2003–04 Siddal Wath Brow Hornets East Hull
2004–05 Leigh Miners Rangers Shaw Cross Sharks Ince Rose Bridge
2005–06 Oulton Raiders West Hull Castleford Panthers
2006–07 Skirlaugh Rochdale Mayfield Waterhead
2007–08 East Hull Wigan St Judes Millom
2008–09 Siddal Wath Brow Hornets Myton Warriors
2009–10 Leigh East Thatto Heath Crusaders Eccles
2010–11 Thatto Heath Crusaders Oulton Raiders Hunslet Warriors
2012 Wath Brow Hornets Egremont Rangers East Leeds
2013 West Hull East Leeds Normanton Knights Kells
2014 West Hull Oulton Raiders Kells Featherstone Lions
2015 Leigh Miners Rangers Kells Millom Hunslet Club Parkside
2016 Siddal Thatto Heath Crusaders Hunslet Club Parkside Crossfields


The NCL was first sponsored at the same time as the Rugby League Conference by the Cooperative Group which lasted for 14 years and also sponsored the Rugby League Championships.

Years Sponsor Name
1997–2011 Cooperative Group Cooperative National Conference League
2012–2016 Kingstone Press Cider Kingstone Press National Conference League

See also[edit]


External links[edit]