League 1 (rugby league)
|Current season or competition::
2018 RFL League 1
|Instituted||2015–present (as League 1)
2008–2014 (as Championship 1)
2003–2007 (as National League Two)
|Number of teams||14|
|Countries|| England (12 teams)
Wales (2 teams)
|Champions||Toronto Wolfpack (1st title) (2017)|
|Most titles|| York City Knights
Dewsbury Rams (2 titles)
|Website||Championship & League 1 Home|
|Related competition||Challenge Cup|
League 1 (for sponsorship reasons currently known as the Betfred League 1), is a professional rugby league competition based in England. The competition also features clubs from Wales, and previously included clubs from Canada and France. It is the Rugby Football League's (RFL) third-tier competition, below the Championship, with which it has promotion and relegation.
The league was inaugurated in 2003 when the Northern Ford Premiership was divided into two separate leagues, initially named National League One and National League Two. In 2009, the league names were changed to the Championship and Championship 1 respectively, with the latter adopting its current name of League 1 in 2015.
- 1 History
- 2 Clubs
- 3 Structure
- 4 Results
- 5 Match officials
- 6 Sponsor
- 7 Expansion
- 8 Media
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
1991–2003: Foundation and regular competition
Third-division rugby league competitions in the United Kingdom have existed periodically since 1991. The current incarnation was created in 2003 when the second-division competition below Super League, the Northern Ford Premiership, was split into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten league positions of the Northern Ford Premiership at the end of the 2002 season formed National League One, while the remaining eight formed National League Two where they were joined by two additional clubs, London Skolars from the Rugby League Conference and York City Knights, who replaced the defunct York Wasps and also joined National League Two for the inaugural season in 2003.
2004–2009: National Leagues
At the end of the 2005 Super League season, an extra team was relegated to National League One in order to accommodate French side Catalans Dragons' entry to the competition. In turn, an additional team was relegated from National League One to League Two, while Blackpool Panthers were elected to National League Two for the 2005 season to replace the defunct Chorley Lynx, leaving 11 teams in League Two. In order to even up the numbers, 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.
2010–2014: Championship 1
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 Championship and Championship 1 respectively, with the change being implemented in time for the 2009 season.
South Wales Scorpions were admitted to Championship 1 for the 2010 season, increasing the number of teams in the league to 11. Blackpool Panthers left the league in 2011, once again reducing the number of teams to 10. In 2013, three new teams were admitted to the league; Hemel Stags, Gloucestershire All Golds and Oxford Rugby League. To facilitate this expansion, in 2012 four teams were promoted to the Championship from Championship 1 and no teams were relegated from the Championship, meaning that the 2013 Championship 1 season was contested by 9 teams.
2015–present: League 1
In 2014 expansion and restructure took place with 5 teams relegated from the Championship and Coventry Bears added to expand the league to 14 teams, which was then renamed League 1. A new playoff structure was also introduced with two teams being promoted to the Championship. In 2015 the League 1 Cup was introduced as an additional competition for League 1 clubs. In 2016 Toulouse Olympique joined the league, bringing the total number of teams to 15. Toronto Wolfpack joined the league in 2017, bringing the total number of teams to 16.
Under the amended structure, the 16 League 1 clubs play a regular season of 15 rounds, playing each other once either home or away. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 16 clubs then compete in a playoff series where they split into 2 divisions of 8 based upon league position:
- The top eight League 1 clubs compete in the League 1 Super 8s. They play each other once (either home or away) to determine the champion and the four clubs that will compete in the playoffs for the second promotion place.
- The remaining clubs compete for the League 1 Shield.
This format remained in use for the 2017 season but on 26 October 2017, it was confirmed that Oxford Rugby League and Gloucestershire All Golds will not compete for the 2018 season, in favour of creating a merged club in Bristol for 2019. This reduces the number of clubs to 14 and for 2018 the Super 8 format has been discarded and instead the teams will play a 26 game season; with home and away fixtures against all the other teams. The club top of the table after 26 games will automatically be promoted to the Championship and those finishing second to fifth will play off for the other promotion spot.
|League 1 clubs|
|Bradford Bulls||1907||Bradford, West Yorkshire||Odsal Stadium||27,000|
|Coventry Bears||1998||Coventry, West Midlands||Butts Park Arena||4,000|
|Doncaster||1951||Doncaster, South Yorkshire||Keepmoat Stadium||15,231|
|Hemel Stags||1981||Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire||Pennine Way||2,000|
|Hunslet||1973||Leeds, West Yorkshire||South Leeds Stadium||4,000|
|Keighley Cougars||1901||Keighley, West Yorkshire||Cougar Park||7,800|
|London Skolars||1995||Haringey, Greater London||New River Stadium||5,000|
|Newcastle Thunder||1999||Newcastle, Tyne and Wear||Kingston Park||10,200|
|North Wales Crusaders||2011||Wrexham, Clwyd||Queensway Stadium||8,256|
|Oldham||1876||Oldham, Greater Manchester||Whitebank Stadium||1,500|
|West Wales Raiders||2009||Llanelli, West Wales||Stebonheath Park||3,500|
|Whitehaven||1948||Whitehaven, Cumbria||Recreation Ground||7,500|
|Workington Town||1945||Workington, Cumbria||Derwent Park||10,000|
|York City Knights||2002||York, North Yorkshire||Bootham Crescent||8,256|
*capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.
League 1 has a system of promotion and relegation with the Championship. At the end of the season, two League 1 teams are promoted via end of season playoffs while the bottom two teams in the Championship are relegated to League 1.
There is currently no relegation from League 1. Additional expansion teams can be accepted to the league via an application to the RFL.
The 14 League 1 teams play each other once home and away for a total of 26 regular season fixtures. Two points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss.
Following the regular season, the teams finishing first is promoted to the Championship while the teams finishing second to fifth qualify for the play offs.
The team finishing second hosts the team finishing fifth, while the team finishing third hosts the team finishing fourth. The winners play in the Playoff Final which is hosted by the highest ranked team. The winner is promoted to the Championship.
|1||York City Knights||2||2005, 2010|
|2||Dewsbury Rams||2||2006, 2009|
|9||North Wales Crusaders||1||2013|
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 Head of the Match Officials Department and Technical Director.
League 1 has had four different sponsors four times since 2003. Betfred are the current title sponsors.
|2003–2008||Nuffield||LHF Healthplan National League 2|
|2009–2012||Cooperative||Cooperative Championship 1|
|2013–2014||Kingstone Press Cider||Kingstone Press Championship 1|
|2015–2017||Kingstone Press League 1|
|2018-2019||Betfred||Betfred League 1|
The current RFL policy is to add expansion teams to the professional structure via entry to League 1. In 2011, the RFL invited expressions of interest for four additional English teams to join the competition starting in 2013. Of the 16 interested parties, three teams, University of Gloucestershire All Golds, Hemel Stags and Oxford Rugby League were accepted to join the league and began play in 2013, a fourth, the Northampton Town F.C.-linked Northampton Rebels were also accepted, but ultimately decided not to proceed. An additional team, Coventry Bears, were also accepted in September 2012, however it was decided that they would join from the 2014 season to give them additional time to prepare. Coventry again deferred their membership in 2014, eventually joining the league for the 2015 season.
In 2015 it was announced that Toulouse Olympique, after talks with the RFL, had accepted the proposal to rejoin the English league structure in League 1 for the 2016 season, airing their aims for promotion in their maiden League 1 season in a bid to eventually achieve Super League status. They currently play in the Championship, having earned promotion at their first opportunity in 2016.
In 2016, it was announced that Toronto Wolfpack would be joining the league from the 2017 season, becoming the first team to compete in the RFL structure from outside of the UK or France. The Wolfpack won the League 1 title in their inaugural season and now play in the 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||18 September 2012||Iffley Road||500||Oxford, Oxfordshire|
|Coventry Bears||2015||Butts Park Arena||4,000||Coventry, West Midlands|
|Toulouse Olympique||2016||Stade des Minimes||4,066||Toulouse, Haute-Garonne|
|Toronto Wolfpack||2017||Lamport Stadium||9,600||Toronto, Ontario|
League 1 games in the past have been televised rarely and sporadically. Matches were previously broadcast in the UK on Premier Sports and infrequently on Sky Sports, however as of 2015 the competition does not receive television coverage. The newest member of the league, Toronto Wolfpack, has announced before the 2017 season that all of their games will be shown live on Canadian channel GameTV, as well as digitally on CBC Sports.
(Grand Final Only)
Regional radio stations, including BBC Local Radio and local commercial stations, provide coverage of the League 1 clubs.
- Rugby League Championships
- British rugby league system
- Super League
- National Conference League
- Northern Ford Premiership
- National League Cup
- Rugby Football League Championship Third Division
- "RFL CHIEF EXECUTIVE POLICY REVIEW" (PDF). Rugby Football League. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- "Super League: Competition restructures confirmed". BBC Sport. 17 January 2014.
- "Oxford and Gloucester to join forces". Rugby Football League. 26 October 2017.
- "Northampton Town FC to run rugby league team from 2013". BBC Sport. 1 December 2011. 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.
- "Toulouse Olympique XIII en route to England and League One". Toulouse Official Website. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Canadian team to join English rugby league setup". ESPN. 2016-04-24. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
- "Greenwood leaves Golds post". TotalRL. 8 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "Oxford and Gloucester to join forces". Rugby Football League. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "#Super8s". Extraordinaryrugby.com. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
- "Wolfpack Secure Canadian Broadcast Partner". Torontowolfpack.com. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
- "CBC Sports, Toronto Wolfpack announce broadcast agreement". Cbc.ca. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.