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 Clubs
- 4 Sponsor
- 5 Media
- 6 Reserve Grade
- 7 Juniors
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- See also Rugby Football League Championship Second Division for winners of the old Second Division.
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.
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.
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||Grand Final Winners||League Leaders||Successful Super League Applicant||Relegated from Super League||Relegated|
Super 8s (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 8's 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 Championship will play each other in a playoff for the Championship Shield. Two teams will be relegated each year.
|Season||Champions||Promoted||Relegated||Championship Shield Winner||Relegated from Super League|
- Bold - Winners decided by Grand Final
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.
The Summer Bash
|Stadium||Location||Country||Highest attendance||Average attendance|
Bradford Bulls taking 3000+ supporters to outnumber the rest of the championship
- 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|
- 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|
||Batley Bulldogs||1880||Batley, West Yorkshire||Mount Pleasant||7,500|
||Bradford Bulls||1907||Bradford, West Yorkshire||Odsal||27,491|
||Dewsbury Rams||1898||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||Crown Flatt||5,100|
||Doncaster||1951||Doncaster, South Yorkshire||Keepmoat Stadium||15,231|
||Featherstone Rovers||1902||Featherstone, West Yorkshire||Post Office Road||6,750|
||Halifax||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||1948||Whitehaven, Cumbria||Recreation Ground||7,500|
||Workington Town||1945||Workington, Cumbria||Derwent Park||10,000|
- *capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.
- Gold - current Champions
The Championship has had three sponsors since 2003. 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||LHF Healthplan National League 1|
|2013-2017||Kingstone Press Cider||Kingstone Press Championship|
Sky Sports and Premier Sports shared the TV rights to the Championship between 2008 to 2012. After Sky only showed the Championship and Championship 1 Grand Final. In 2015 Sky Sports showed selected games from the Summer Bash and games from the Qualifiers and Championship Shield.
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.
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