|Current season, competition or edition:|
2021 RFL Championship
|No. of teams||14|
|Country|| England |
| Toronto Wolfpack |
|Most titles|| Leigh Centurions |
|TV partner(s)||Sky Sports|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Super League|
|Relegation to||League 1|
|Domestic cup(s)|| Challenge Cup |
The Championship, known as the Betfred Championship for sponsorship reasons, is a professional rugby league competition.It is the second-tier competition organised by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in England, and consists of 14 teams, with promotion to the Super League and relegation to the third-tier competition, League 1. The league announced a two-year sponsorship deal with the bookmaking company Betfred ahead of the 2018 season. The current champions are Toronto Wolfpack, winners of the 2019 season. The 2020 season was cancelled in its entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From 2003 to 2009, the competition was known as National League One.
Second division rugby league competitions have been played at various times since 1902, and have been in place annually since 1973. When Super League began in 1996, the second division continued to operate a system of promotion and relegation with the new competition. 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 re-organised into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten league positions of the 2002 Northern Ford Premiership 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, and York City Knights, who replaced the defunct York Wasps (who had folded mid-season in 2002) and also joined National League Two in 2003, creating two ten-team leagues which operated a system of promotion and relegation between themselves while also maintaining the promotion and relegation between National League One and Super League. 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, however this never eventuated.
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 the Championship and Championship 1 respectively, with the change being implemented in time for the 2009 season. Championship 1 was later rebranded to League 1. During this period, a system of licensing was put in place which meant there was no automatic system of promotion and relegation between the Championship and Super League, although promotion and relegation continued between the Championship and League 1. Widnes Vikings were promoted to Super League from the Championship via the licensing system in 2011.
The record crowd for a club game at this level of competition was set in 2017 at KCOM Craven Park for the opening fixture of the season between Hull Kingston Rovers and Bradford Bulls with Rovers winning 54–24 in front of a crowd of 8,817. The crowd record for regular season attendance was also broken in 2008 with an average of 2,205 spectators at each game.
In 2013, Super League clubs agreed to reduce the number of clubs in the competition to 12 and return to an amended system of promotion and relegation with a 12-club Championship competition. These changes came into effect for the 2015 season.
Under the amended structure, the 12 Super League and 12 Championship clubs play a regular season of 23 rounds, including a Magic Weekend for both divisions. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 24 clubs then compete in a play-off series where they split into 3 divisions of 8 based upon league position:
On 14 September 2018, an EGM was called to discuss the future of the sport and a change in structure, as the clubs were in favour of scrapping the Super 8s in favour of a more conventional structure. Two proposals were put forward: one by Super League and one by the Championship and League 1;
Super League proposal: The Super League proposed staying with 12 teams who play each other home and away plus Magic Weekend and 6 loop fixtures (29 games). They also proposed a return to a top-5 playoff and the 12th placed team being relegated.
Championship & League 1 proposal: The alternative proposal was that Super League would expand to 14 clubs playing 29 games ending with a top-5 playoff. The team finishing 14th would be relegated and 13th would play 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Championship in a relegation playoff.
After a vote, the Super League proposal was voted through was implemented for the 2019 season. The Championship clubs then voted for a top 5 playoff being used to decide which team will be promoted to Super League.
|Batley Bulldogs||1880||Batley, West Yorkshire||Mount Pleasant||7,500|
|Bradford Bulls||1907||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||Crown Flatt||5,800|
|Dewsbury Rams||1898||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||Crown Flatt||5,800|
|Featherstone Rovers||1902||Featherstone, West Yorkshire||Post Office Road||8,000|
|Halifax Panthers||1873||Halifax, West Yorkshire||The Shay||14,000|
|London Broncos||1980||Ealing, London||Trailfinders Sports Ground||4,000|
|Newcastle Thunder||1999||Newcastle, Tyne and Wear||Kingston Park||10,200|
|Oldham||1876||Stalybridge, Greater Manchester||Bower Fold||6,500|
|Sheffield Eagles||1984||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||Olympic Legacy Park||3,000|
|Swinton Lions||1866||Sale, Greater Manchester||Heywood Road||3,387|
|Toulouse Olympique||1937||Toulouse, Haute-Garonne||Stade Ernest-Wallon||19,500|
|Whitehaven||1948||Whitehaven, Cumbria||Recreation Ground||7,500|
|Widnes Vikings||1875||Widnes, Cheshire||Halton Stadium||13,500|
|York City Knights||2002||York, North Yorkshire||York Community Stadium||8,008|
The 14 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. At the end of the season the bottom two teams are relegated and the top 5 take part in the playoffs.
In 2015 the Championship staged its own Magic Weekend held at Bloomfield Road where all 14 Championship clubs play an extra round usually against a rival.
|Stadium||Location||Country||Highest attendance||Average attendance|
The current play-off system was previously used between 2003 and 2006 and is used by the Super League.
The champions of the Championship and the team promoted to the Super League (since 2016) is determined by a playoff series at the end of the regular season. The team at the top of the league table at the end of regular season is awarded the Championship Leaders' Shield.
|2005||Castleford||Castleford|| Barrow |
|2006||Hull KR||Hull KR|| Oldham |
|2007||Castleford||Castleford|| Rochdale |
|2008||Salford|| Salford |
|2009||Barrow||No Promotion due to licensing|| Doncaster |
|2010||Halifax|| Keighley |
|2011||Featherstone||Widnes|| Barrow |
|2012||Sheffield||No Promotion due to licensing||No Relegation|
|2013||Sheffield|| York |
|2014||Leigh|| Barrow |
|2015||Leigh||None|| Doncaster |
|2016||Leigh||Leigh|| Workington |
|2017||Hull KR||Hull KR|| Oldham |
|2019||Toronto||Toronto|| Barrow |
|2021||TBA||TBA|| Oldham |
|1||Leigh Centurions||4||2004, 2014, 2015, 2016|
|2||Salford Red Devils||2||2003, 2008|
|2||Castleford Tigers||2||2005, 2007|
|4||Sheffield Eagles||2||2012, 2013|
|4||Hull Kingston Rovers||2||2006, 2017|
|4||Toronto Wolfpack||1||2018, 2019|
Since the formation of the Championship in 2003, the team finishing top of the league have been awarded the Championship Leaders' Shield before entering the playoffs to decide the Champions. Between 2015 and 2018 the League Leaders were awarded before The Qualifiers began however from 2019 the league reverted to a playoff series and the shield was awarded before the playoffs again.
The Championship has been sponsored four times since its inception in 2003. Betfred are the current title sponsor.
The title sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. There have been seven different title sponsors since the league's formation:
|2003–2008||Nuffield||LHF Healthplan National League 1|
|2009–2012||Co-operative Group||Co-operative Championship|
|2013–2017||Kingstone Press Cider||Kingstone Press Championship|
The official rugby ball supplier is Steeden.
|2008–2011|| Sky Sports |
|2014|| Sky Sports |
(Grand Final Only)
Sky Sports and Premier Sports shared the TV rights to the Championship between 2008 and 2012. After Sky only showed the Championship and Championship 1 Grand Finals while games were broadcast on Premier Sports until 2013. There was no TV coverage on the Championship in 2014. In 2015 Sky Sports won the rights to show the Championship including The Summer Bash, Championship Shield and The Qualifiers in a seven-year deal.
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.
In 2014 and 2015 Super League clubs were unhappy with the Dual registration system and wanted to form an Under 23 reserve leagues between the Under 19s and 1st team. Wigan, Warrington and St Helens were the first teams to propose the return of the reserve league where players could move from the under 19s and play with professional players before playing in the 1st team. A reserve league was set up in 2016 with a mixture of Super League, Championship and League 1 teams.
Clubs in both the Super League and the Championships benefit from the new dual registration system which was introduced for the 2013 season.The new system is intended to complement the existing player loan system.
Dual registration refers to an arrangement between clubs whereby a player continues to be registered to his current Super League club and is also registered to play for a club in the Championship. The system is aimed at young Super League players who are thought to be not quite ready to make the step up to ‘week in, week out’ Super League first team duties but for whom first team match experience is likely to be beneficial for their development.
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 Head of the Match Officials Department and Technical Director.
The British rugby league system is based on a five-tier structure administered by the Rugby Football League.
League 1 is a professional rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom. The competition also features clubs from Wales, and previously included clubs from Canada and France. It is the Rugby Football League's (RFL) third-tier competition, below the Championship, with which it has promotion and relegation.
The Super League (SL), sponsored as the Betfred Super League and officially known as Super League Europe, is the top-level of the British rugby league system. The league currently has twelve teams, eleven of which are from Northern England, reflecting the sport's geographic popularity within the UK. The final team is Catalans Dragons, from southern France.
The 2009 Co-operative Championship is a semi-professional rugby league football competition played in the United Kingdom and France one tier below the first tier Super League. The two worst performing teams during the season, with the exception of Toulouse Olympique, will be relegated to Championship 1.
The Rugby League Championships 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.
The 2013 Super League season was the 18th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds, after which the highest finishing teams entered the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the championship and the Super League Trophy.
The 2014 Championship 1, known as the Kingstone Press Championship 1 for sponsorship reasons, was a semi-professional rugby league football competition played in England, the third tier of the sport in the country.
The Championship Grand Final was the championship-deciding game of the Championship competition via the playoffs.
The 2018 RFL League 1 was a professional rugby league football competition played in England and Wales and is the third tier of the sport for Rugby Football League (RFL) affiliated clubs.
The 2018 Rugby Football League Championship is a rugby league football competition played primarily in the United Kingdom, one tier below the first tier Super League. The 2018 season is the fourth to consist of the Super 8s structure combining the Championship and Super League three-quarters of the way through the season.
Super League XXIV, known as the Betfred Super League XXIV for sponsorship reasons, was the 2019 iteration of and the 24th season of the Super League and 125th season of rugby league in Great Britain.
The 2019 Rugby Football League Championship was a rugby league football competition played primarily in England but including teams from Canada and France. It is the second tier of the three tiers of professional rugby league in England, below Super League and above League 1. Following rule changes agreed at the end of the 2018 season, the Super 8's format has been abandoned and the Championship will feature a play-off system leading to promotion to Super League for one club while results during the regular season will lead to relegation to League 1 for two teams.
The 2019 London Skolars season is the 25th in the club's history, and seventeenth as a professional rugby league outfit. Competing in Betfred League 1, the third tier of British Rugby League and playing at the New River Stadium, London N22, the team is coached by Jermaine Coleman for the fifth consecutive season.
Super League XXV, known as the Betfred Super League for sponsorship reasons, was the 25th season of the Super League and 126th season of rugby league in Great Britain. St Helens were the reigning champions going into Super League XXV. At the start of the season, it consisted of twelve professional rugby league teams: ten from England, one from Canada, and one from France. Due to financial pressures related to the season suspension, Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack withdrew from the league in July 2020, and the league continued with just 11 teams.
The 2020 RFL League 1 was a professional rugby league football competition played in England and Wales and is the third tier of the sport for Rugby Football League (RFL) affiliated clubs. The sponsors for the league were the bookmakers, Betfred and the league continued to be known as the Betfred League 1.
The 2020 Rugby Football League Championship is a rugby league football competition played primarily in England but including a team from France. It is the second tier of the three tiers of professional rugby league in England, below Super League and above League 1. Following rule changes agreed at the end of the 2018 season, the Super 8's format was abandoned and the Championship was to have featured a play-off system leading to promotion to Super League for one club while results during the regular season would have led to relegation to League 1 for two teams.
Super League XXVI, known as the Betfred Super League XXVI for sponsorship reasons, is the 26th season of the Super League and 127th season of rugby league in Great Britain.
The 2021 RFL League 1 is a professional rugby league football competition played in England and Wales and is the third tier of the sport for Rugby Football League (RFL) affiliated clubs. The sponsors for the league are the bookmakers, Betfred and the league will continue to be known as the Betfred League 1.
The 2021 Challenge Cup, known for sponsorship reasons as the 2021 Betfred Challenge Cup, will be the 120th edition of the Challenge Cup, the main rugby league knockout tournament in British rugby league run by the Rugby Football League (RFL). This year's competition will be contested between only the professional clubs.
The 2021 Rugby Football League Championship is a rugby league football competition played in England, and France. It is the second tier of the three tiers of professional rugby league in England, below Super League, and above League 1.
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