League 1 (rugby league)

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League 1
Country  England
Other club(s) from  Wales
 Canada (from 2017)
Founded 2003
Number of teams 15
Level on pyramid 3
Promotion to Championship
Relegation to England National Conference League
England Conference League South
France Elite One Championship
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
League cup(s) League 1 Cup
League 1 Shield
Current champions Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Roughyeds (1st Title)
Most championships File:Yorkcolours.svg York Knights
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams (2 titles)
TV partners Sky Sports (Grand Final Only)
Website League 1

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.


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.


League 1 clubs
Colors Club Established Location Stadium Capacity*
Barrow Raiders 1875 England Barrow, Cumbria Craven Park 7,600
Coventry Bears 1998 England Coventry, West Midlands Butts Park Arena 4,000
Doncaster colours.svg
Doncaster 1951 England Doncaster, South Yorkshire Keepmoat Stadium 15,231
New South Wales colours.svg
Gloucestershire All Golds 1999 England Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Prince of Wales Stadium 480
Hemel Stags 1981 England Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire Pennine Way 2,000
Hunslet Hawks 1883 England Leeds, West Yorkshire John Charles Centre for Sport 4,000
Keighley Cougars 1876 England Keighley, West Yorkshire Cougar Park 7,800
London Skolars 1995 England Haringey, London New River Stadium 5,000
Newcastle Thunder 1999 England Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Kingston Park 10,200
North Wales Crusaders 2011 Wales Wrexham, Clwyd Racecourse Ground 10,771
Oxford 2012 England Oxford, Oxfordshire Iffley Road 500
File:Rochdale colours.svg
Rochdale Hornets 1866 England Rochdale, Greater Manchester, Spotland 10,000
South Wales Scorpions 2009 Wales Caerphilly, Glamorgan Virginia Park 2,000
File:New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg
Toronto Wolfpack (from 2017) 2016 Canada Toronto, Ontario Lamport Stadium 9,600
Toulouse Olympique 1937 France Toulouse, Haute-Garonne, Midi-Pyrénées Stade des Minimes 4,066
York Knights 2002 England 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, 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.

Regular Season

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.

Super 8s

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.

Position Qualification
1 Promotion Playoff
2 Promotion Playoff
3 Playoff
4 Playoff
5 Playoff
6 Season Complete
7 Season Complete
8 Season Complete

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.

Position Qualification
1 Final Place
2 Final Place
3 Season Complete
4 Season Complete
5 Season Complete
6 Season Complete
7 Season Complete

Play Offs

The playoffs are split into 2:

Promotion Final

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

Playoff Final

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 Champions Also Promoted Relegated from Championship Wooden Spoon
2003 Cougscolours.svg Keighley N/A Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Skolscolours.svg London Skolars
2004 Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Cougscolours.svg Keighley Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle
2005 File:Yorkcolours.svg York Barrowcolours.svg Barrow
Fevcolours.svg Featherstone
Blackpoolcolours.svg Blackpool
2006 Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
File:Yorkcolours.svg York
Blackpoolcolours.svg Blackpool
2007 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders Fevcolours.svg Featherstone File:Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Blackpoolcolours.svg Blackpool
2008 Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle Barrowcolours.svg Barrow
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet
2009 Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Cougscolours.svg Keighley Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Skolscolours.svg London Skolars
2010 File:Yorkcolours.svg York Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Cougscolours.svg Keighley
Haven colours.svg Whitehaven
Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle
2011 Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Cougscolours.svg Keighley Barrowcolours.svg Barrow
File:ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse
2012 Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster Barrowcolours.svg Barrow
Haven colours.svg Whitehaven
Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town
N/A Gthundercolours.svgNewcastle
2013 NWCrucolours.png North Wales File:Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale New South Wales colours.svg Gloucestershire


Season Grand Final Winners League Leaders Promoted Relegated from Championship Wooden Spoon
2014 Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet File:Yorkcolours.svg York Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Barrowcolours.svg Barrow
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton
File:Rochdale colours.svg Rochdale
NWCrucolours.png North Wales
Cougscolours.svg Keighley
File:Scorpions.png South Wales


Season Winners Promoted Relegated from Championship League 1 Shield Winners Wooden Spoon
2015 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet
N/A File:Scorpions.png South Wales


Club Wins Winning years
File:Yorkcolours.svg York City Knights
2 2005, 2010
Ramscolours.svg Dewsbury Rams
2 2006, 2009
Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
1 2003
Barrowcolours.svg Barrow Raiders
1 2004
Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead Thunder
1 2008
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
1 2011
Doncaster colours.svg Doncaster RLFC
1 2012
NWCrucolours.png North Wales Crusaders
1 2013
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
1 2014
Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Roughyeds
1 2015

Match officials

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.

Period Sponsor Name
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.[1] 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.[2] 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,[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

Confirmed expansion clubs
Team Date Stadium Capacity City/Area
Hemelcolours.png Hemel Stags[2] 21 February 2012 Pennine Way 2,000 England Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
New South Wales colours.svg Gloucestershire All-Golds[3] 9 May 2012 Prince of Wales Stadium 480 England Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Oxfordcolours.png Oxford[5] 18 September 2012 Iffley Road 500 England Oxford, Oxfordshire
Coventrycolours.png Coventry Bears[5] 2015 Butts Park Arena 4,000 England Coventry, West Midlands
File:ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse Olympique[7] 2016 Stade des Minimes 4,066 France Toulouse, Haute-Garonne
Toronto Wolfpack[8] 2017 Lamport Stadium 9,600 Canada Toronto, Ontario
Potential Future Expansion Clubs
Team Date Stadium Capacity City/Area
Cathars Chevaliers[9][10] TBD Various Various France 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.

Period Broadcaster
2008–2011 Sky Sports
Premier Sports
2012–2013 Premier Sports
2014 Sky Sports
(Grand Final Only)
2015–2021 Sky Sports


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.

See also


  1. "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>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Hemel Join Rugby League Championship 1". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "All Golds to join Championship One". RFL. Retrieved 29 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Gloucestershire All Golds to join Championship One in 2013". BBC Sport. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Oxford to be admitted to Championship One". BBC Sport. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "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>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "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>
  8. http://www.extraordinaryrugby.com/article/32977/kingstone-press-league-1-to
  9. "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>
  10. "Could a combined second French team work in Super League?". Love Rugby League. 4 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links