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The Rugby League Championship (sponsored by the Co-operative Group) was formerly the National League One. With the inclusion of a French team in 2009 (Toulouse) it has taken a more European dimension and has changed its denomination. It acts as the second tier competition below the Super League Europe.

Championship teams are only allowed one quota player, other than Gateshead Thunder, to compensate for the lack of amateur clubs outside the heartlands to recruit from. The division below the Championship is the Championship 1 (previously National League Two).


Games are shown every Thursday on Sky Sports and some of Toulouse Olympique's games are broadcast on Orange Sport TV in France.


Between 1999 and 2002 teams below the Super League took part in a single division known as the Northern Ford Premiership (NFP). In 2003, the NFP was completely re-organised into National Leagues 1 and 2. Teams that finished in the top ten of the NFP joined National League 1 and the bottom nine joined National League 2. They were joined by London Skolars from the Rugby League Conference who entered National League 2. York City Knights replaced the defunct York Wasps and joined National League 2 in 2003.

At the same time, National League Three was created with teams from the Rugby League Conference and from the BARLA amateur leagues. It was intended that there would be promotion and relegation between National League 2 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 1; 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 speactors at each game.


A play-off structure is used to determine the winners of the Championship, who used to be eligible for promotion to Super League, being replaced by the team being relegated from that competition. Two teams are relegated from the Championship, 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 are a top-six format.

After 2009 there will be no automatic promotion or relegation from Super League and 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.

A cup competition, the Northern Rail Cup, is played for by all clubs in the Championship and Championship 1; in 2005 four League Three clubs were also admitted, in 2006 five League Three were admitted. The teams are organised into regional conferences, with knock-out stages following from the group stage. In 2007 four Rugby League Conference teams are scheduled to be included.

From 2007 the competition used a new points system:

Win – three points; Draw – two points; Loss by 12 points or fewer - one point.[86614]


Team Stadium City/Area Current season
Barrow Raiders Craven Parkmarker Barrow-in-Furnessmarker, Cumbria Team and results 2009
Batley Bulldogs Mount Pleasantmarker Batleymarker, West Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Dewsbury Rams The Tetley's Stadiummarker Dewsburymarker, West Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Featherstone Rovers Post Office Roadmarker Featherstonemarker, West Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Halifax RLFC The Shaymarker Halifaxmarker, West Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Keighley Cougars Cougar Parkmarker Keighleymarker, West Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Leigh Centurions Leigh Sports Villagemarker Leighmarker, Greater Manchester Team and results 2009
Sheffield Eagles Bramall Lanemarker Sheffieldmarker, South Yorkshire Team and results 2009
Toulouse Olympique Stade des Minimesmarker Toulousemarker, Midi-Pyrénéesmarker, France Team and results 2009
Whitehaven RLFC Recreation Groundmarker Whitehavenmarker, Cumbria Team and results 2009
Widnes Vikings Stobart Stadium Haltonmarker Widnesmarker, Cheshire Team and results 2009


See also Rugby League Championship Second Division for winners of the old Second Division.

National Leagues 2002-2008

Season Relegated from Super League League Champions Promoted Relegated League Two Champions Also promoted to League One
2003 Halifax RLFC Salford City Reds Salford City Reds Dewsbury Rams Keighley Cougars
2004 Castleford Tigers Leigh Centurions Leigh Centurions Keighley Cougars Barrow Raiders1
2005 Widnes Vikings
Leigh Centurions
Castleford Tigers Castleford Tigers Barrow Raiders
Featherstone Rovers
York City Knights1
2006 Castleford Tigers Hull Kingston Rovers Hull Kingston Rovers Oldham Roughyeds
York City Knights
Dewsbury Rams1
Sheffield Eagles
2007 Salford City Reds Castleford Tigers Castleford Tigers Rochdale Hornets
Doncaster Lakers
Celtic Crusaders
Featherstone Rovers
2008 N/A
Salford City Reds Salford City Reds
Celtic Crusaders2
Dewsbury Rams Leigh Centurions Barrow Raiders
Doncaster RLFC

Co-operative Championship 2009-present

Season Relegated from Super League Championship Champions Relegated from Championship Championship 1 Champions Championship 1 play-off winners
2009 N/A
Barrow Raiders Leigh Centurions
Doncaster RLFC
Dewsbury Rams Keighley Cougars -
On 11th November 2009 it was anounced that Gateshead Thunder who had gone into administration would be relegted to Championship 1 and that Leigh Centurions would now NOT be relegated


  1. Denotes that championship was not decided using a play-off; league position alone determined the title-holder.
  2. From 2008 to be promoted to Superleague you had to be a successful applicant for a license, the winner of the grand final was not automatically promoted. All existing Super League teams were given a licence and so there was no relegation.

Reserve Grade

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.


While there is no Under 18s league for Championship clubs, Widnes Vikings run their Under 18s in the Super League Academy and Gateshead Thunder and Keighley Cougars run their Under 18s in the Gillette National Youth League.

See also

External links

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