Rugby League Championships

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Rugby League Championships
Country England
Other club(s) from Wales
League 1
Number of teams26
Level on pyramid2–3
Promotion toSuper League
Relegation toNational Conference League
Conference League South
Elite One Championship
Via RFL application
Domestic cup(s)Challenge Cup,
League 1 Cup[1]
Current champions
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions (3rd titles)
Most championships
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions (3 titles)
TV partnersSky Sports

The Rugby League Championships (known as the National Leagues between 2003-2008) are the two professional divisions below the Super League, consisting of 12 teams in the Championship and 14 teams in League 1. Promotion and relegation is in use between the Championship and League 1 as well as between the Championship and Super League but not between League 1 and the National Conference League and French Elite One Championship. The RFL can promote teams between the NCL, Elite One Championship and League 1.


A second division in rugby league was first formed in 1902 when the RFL Championship split. The RFL Second Division lasted for three seasons and was not played again until 1962 where it was played for just two seasons. It did not become a regular competition until the 1973-74 season.

Another division was added in 1991, the RFL Championship Third Division, which was played for two seasons until 1993. It was then reinstated during the 1995-96 season, the last winter season of rugby league and then played twice more during the summer era until 1997.

In 2003 the Third Division was reinstated again beneath the second division but under the names National League 1, National League 2 and a National League 3 was established Consisting of teams from the Conference. This three division structure lasted until 2008 and the National League 3 was scrapped.

In 2009 the National Leagues were changed to become the Championship and Championship 1. There would be no promotion to Super League and teams would have to apply for a licence every few years for entry to play in Super League. The Grand Final, previously to decide who was promoted now decided the champions. The number of teams in the Championships varied each year as the RFL expanded them and introduced new teams.

In 2015 the RFL reintroduced promotion to Super League and a new league structure, the Super 8s. The Championships were now called the Championship, consisting of 12 teams, and League 1, consisting of 14 teams.


The current structure of the Championships consists of two divisions:




(Kingstone Press Championship)
12 clubs – 0-4 promotions, 2 relegations


League 1
(Kingstone Press League 1)
14 clubs – 2 promotions, 0 relegations


The 12 teams in the Championship play each other home and away plus The Summer Bash over 23 rounds. After the regular season the teams enter in the Super 8s:

The Qualifiers
The top four Championship teams play the bottom four Super League teams. After 7 rounds the top three teams qualify for next seasons Super League and 4th and 5th play each other in the Million Pound Game to decide the fourth team that qualifies for Super League.

Championship Shield
The bottom eight Championship teams play in the Championship Shield, playing 7 more rounds. The top four teams enter in the playoffs to play in the Championship Shield Final. The bottom two teams are relegated to League 1.

League 1[edit]

The 16 teams in League 1 play 26 rounds home and away. No teams are relegated but the RFL can promote teams from the National Conference League, Conference League South and Elite One Championship. After the regular season the teams enter in the Super 8s:

League 1 Super 8s
The top eight League 1 teams play each other once more. After 7 rounds the top five teams qualify for the play-offs where two teams are promoted to the Championship:

  • Promotion Playoff Final
The top two teams play in the promotion playoff final. The winner is promoted to the Championship while the loser plays 5th in the playoffs.
  • League 1 Playoff
The 3 teams finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th okay in the League 1 Playoff. 3rd plays 4th and 5th plays the loser of the Promotion Playoff Final. The winners of the two games play in the playoff final and the winner will be promoted to the Championship

League 1 Shield
The bottom seven Championship teams play in the League 1 Shield, playing 6 more rounds. The two teams qualify to play in the League 1 Shield Final. No teams are relegated


Championship League 1
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
Batley colours.svg Batley Bulldogs Coventrycolours.png Coventry Bears
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Fevcolours.svg Featherstone Rovers New South Wales colours.svg Gloucestershire All Golds
Faxcolours.svg Halifax Hemelcolours.png Hemel Stags
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
Broncoscolours.png London Broncos Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Skolscolours.svg London Skolars
Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Eagles Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle Thunder
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions NWCrucolours.png North Wales Crusaders
Haven colours.svg Whitehaven Oxfordcolours.png Oxford
Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale Hornets
Scorpions.png South Wales Scorpions
New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack
ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse Olympique
Yorkcolours.svg York City Knights


Season Championship Champions League 1 Champions
Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
Yorkcolours.svg York City Knights
HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams
Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
Cruscolours.svg Celtic Crusaders
Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle Thunder
Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams
Faxcolours.svg Halifax
Yorkcolours.svg York City Knights
Fevcolours.svg Featherstone Rovers
Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Eagles
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Eagles
Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale Hornets
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale Hornets
HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack


Period Sponsor Name
2003–2008 LHF Healthplan LHF Healthplan National Leagues
2009–2012 Cooperative Group Cooperative Leagues
2013–2017 Kingstone Press Cider Kingstone Press Leagues

See also[edit]


  1. ^ League 1 clubs only, League 1 Cup

External links[edit]