League 1 (rugby league)
|Other club(s) from|| Wales
Canada (from 2017)
|Number of teams||15|
|Level on pyramid||3|
|Relegation to|| National Conference League
Conference League South
Elite One Championship
|Domestic cup(s)||Challenge Cup|
|League cup(s)||League 1 Cup
League 1 Shield
|Current champions||Oldham Roughyeds (1st Title)|
|Most championships||File:Yorkcolours.svg York Knights
Dewsbury Rams (2 titles)
|TV partners||Sky Sports (Grand Final Only)|
League 1, formerly Championship 1 and currently known as Kingstone Press League 1 for sponsorship reasons, is a professional rugby league competition based in England. The competition also features clubs from Canada, France and Wales. It is the RFL's 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, 5 teams were relegated from the Championship and Coventry Bears were 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 2016 Toulouse Olympique joined the league, bringing the total number of teams to 15.
*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, the bottom two teams in the Championship are relegated to League 1. Two League 1 teams are promoted via end of season Playoffs.
There is no promotion or relegation between League 1 and the National Conference League, Conference League South or the French Elite One Championship but the RFL can relegate teams down into those leagues as well as promote them via an application; current RFL policy is to expand the top two leagues gradually over time. National Conference League sides Hemel Stags and Gloucestershire All-Golds joined in 2013 and Coventry Bears joined in 2015.
The 15 teams play each other bi-weekly with only 14 teams playing each other in each round. 2 points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss.
League 1 Cup
The League 1 Cup is played midway through the season by clubs from League 1, and two clubs from the National Conference League. The competition starts in February and the final is in May on the same weekend as the Championship Summer Bash.
The top eight teams in League 1 play each other once more, with the top four teams Having four home fixtures and the bottom four having three. Teams who finish the Super 8s in the top two will play in the Promotion Final. The winner will be promoted and the loser will play 5th in the Playoffs.
League 1 Shield
The bottom 7 teams in League 1 at the end of the regular season compete for the League 1 Shield. They play each other once, home or away before 1st and 2nd qualify to play in theLeague 1 Shield Final. There is no automatic relegation.
The playoffs are split into 2:
- 1st v 2nd
The winner gains promotion to the Championship and the loser then plays 5th
- Semi Final 1: 2nd v 5th
- Semi Final 2: 3rd v 4th
The winners of the last 2 playoff games play in the Playoff Final where one team will be promoted.
- Semi Final 1 Winner V Semi Final 2 Winner
|Season||Grand Final Winners||League Leaders||Promoted||Relegated from Championship||Wooden Spoon|
|2014||Hunslet||File:Yorkcolours.svg York||Hunslet|| Barrow
File:Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale
|File:Scorpions.png South Wales|
|Season||Winners||Promoted||Relegated from Championship||League 1 Shield Winners||Wooden Spoon|
|N/A||File:Scorpions.png South Wales|
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 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.
League 1 has had three sponsors since 2003. Between 2003 and 2008 it was called the LHF Healthplan National League 2 before it was renamed the Championship 1 in 2009 and sponsored by Cooperative.
|2003-2008||LHF Healthplan||LHF Healthplan National League 2|
|2009-2012||Cooperative||Cooperative Championship 1|
|2013-2017||Kingstone Press Cider||Kingstone Press League 1|
The RFL planned to expand semi-professional rugby league outside the game's heartlands from 2013 onwards. Sixteen clubs expressed interest in joining the professional ranks, out of those the RFL picked seven as potential inclusions; Medway Dragons, Hemel Stags, Bristol/Gloucester, Coventry Bears, Chester Gladiators, Northampton Rebels and Oxford RLFC.
Northampton Rebels were announced as the first expansion team on 1 December 2011. The rugby league club were to be owned and run by Northampton Town F.C. and were to form links with local club, Northampton Demons as well as Super League club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. The club considered itself a fans club, after taking the name and badge voting to the fans, giving them the opportunity to make the decision. However, in August 2012, the club announced that it had decided to withdraw its entry to the 2013 Championship 1. The decision was made after the football club expressed concern that the rugby league team would impact on the football team and did not want to launch a rugby league team if it did not have any chance of success.
On 21 February 2012, semi-professional side Hemel Stags was confirmed as a Championship 1 team from 2013. Unlike Northampton, Hemel Stags already had a history of playing rugby league, having been established in 1981, and moved up from Division Three of the National Conference League.
In May 2012, the next team was chosen for entry to the 2013 Championship 1, which was the University of Gloucestershire All-Golds. The team, who has been playing in British Universities and Colleges Sport Super 6 League, and is run by the University of Gloucestershire, has close links to the Leeds Rhinos, who helped develop rugby league in the Gloucestershire area and also recruited Brian Noble as a coaching consultant.
Following Northampton's decision to withdrawn from Championship 1, two more teams were to be drawn for the 2013 season. The first of those two was Oxford Rugby League, who was selected on 18 September 2012. The new Oxford team played at Iffley Road, which is also the home of the University of Oxford's rugby league team. The club was initially coached by ex-Leigh and Oldham coach Tony Benson.
The final team announced were Coventry Bears in September 2012, however it was decided that they would join from the 2014 season to give them additional time to prepare. This means that the 2013 Championship 1 season only had nine teams in the division. However Coventry Bears remained in the National Conference League Division 3 for the 2014 season and finally joined in 2015.
Promotion and relegation between the two competitions resumed from the 2013 season. Minimum standards for entry, such as a 3,000 stadium capacity, will apply in the 14-club Championship.
In 2014 it was rumoured a Canadian team had sent an application to the RFL to play in League 1 for 2015. In February 2015 it was confirmed that Toronto RL were in talks with the RFL to enter into League 1 in 2016 or 2017 which would mean expanding the league to 15 teams and playing their home games in the first half of the season and away games in the second half. The Toronto club say they will pay for all 14 League 1 clubs travel and accommodation to Canada should they be accepted.
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.
|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|
|File:ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse Olympique||2016||Stade des Minimes||4,066||Toulouse, Haute-Garonne|
|Toronto Wolfpack||2017||Lamport Stadium||9,600||Toronto, Ontario|
|Potential Future Expansion Clubs|
|Cathars Chevaliers||TBD||Various||Various||Carcassone, Limoux, Lezignan, Aude|
League 1 games in the past have been televised rarely and sporadically. Premier Sports have screen more games than Sky due to Sky's busy schedule and the league not attracting a large TV audience.
(Grand Final Only)
Regional radio stations have coverage of the League 1 clubs but mostly only cover Super League clubs in the same area and give updates of Championship scores and results.
- Rugby League Championships
- British rugby league system
- Super League
- Rugby League Conference
- Northern Ford Premiership
- National League Cup
- "Northampton Town FC to run rugby league team from 2013". BBC Sport. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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- "Oxford to be admitted to Championship One". BBC Sport. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Coventry Bears: Midlands amateur side targeted as semi-pro club". BBC Sport. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Toulouse Olympique XIII en route to England and League One". Toulouse Official Website. Retrieved 24 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Aude Pays Cathare Rugby XIII announce first fixture against the Catalan Dragons". The 18th Man. 9 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Could a combined second French team work in Super League?". Love Rugby League. 4 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>