Championship One to feature nine clubs in 2013

Date published: Monday, September 24, 2012

The RFL has today confirmed that it is working with Coventry Bears with a view to the Midlands club entering Championship One in 2014.

Coventry had been considered for entry to Rugby League’s semi-professional third tier in 2013 alongside Oxford Rugby League, Hemel Stags and University of Gloucestershire All Golds but have been given another 12 months to prepare for the move.

As a consequence, Championship One will operate as a nine-club competition next season featuring the three new entrants who will give the sport an exciting new geographical footprint.

RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “Coventry Bears are a very ambitious club and we are looking forward to working with them in our shared goal of them entering Championship One in 2014.

“The Bears have made significant strides in the last few years, as their presence in this weekend’s Conference 3 play-offs testify, but our view is that it is too soon for them to make the transition into Championship One next season.

“We  have always maintained throughout this process that it was important not to rush clubs into the competition before they are ready; we need to act responsibly and in the best interests of the competition.

“I spoke to the Championship One clubs directly a fortnight ago to make them fully aware of the options available. The clubs have been very supportive of the process.

“Alan Robinson and Tom Tsang have worked extremely hard with Coventry and have demonstrated to us that there is a very strong foundation from which to build . We have highlighted to the club the areas which need strengthening and we will now provide them with the practical assistance which will hopefully see them emerge as a strong entrant in 2014.

“What we have achieved in bringing in three new clubs, as well as identifying a fourth or 2014, should not be underestimated and is truly ground-breaking for the sport. It will refresh the competition and present new challenges for all involved.“

The Championship will remain at 14 clubs as planned next season with the nine-team Championship One comprising Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, Gateshead Thunder, London Skolars, South Wales Scorpions, North Wales Crusaders, Hemel Stags, Oxford Rugby League and University Of Gloucestershire All Golds.

For the group stages of the 2013 Northern Rail Cup, the Championship One clubs will be split into two pools of four with Oxford having asked not to compete as they prepare for life in Championship One.