Premier start to 2012 Championship campaign

Date published: Monday, December 5, 2011

Northern Rail Cup winners Leigh Centurions will get the 2012 Co-operative Championship season underway on Thursday, March 8, when they welcome Batley Bulldogs to Leigh Sports Village in what will be the first Championship game to be broadcast live on Premier Sports.

Premier Sports will broadcast 32 live games this season, including 25 Co-operative Championship fixtures, four Northern Rail Cup games and four additional matches, details of which will be confirmed in the new year, and Leigh will make their second appearance in Round 2, when Premier will broadcast their clash against last season’s Co-operative Championship winners Featherstone Rovers.

“We are very pleased to welcome Premier Sports on board for what will no doubt be another highly fascinating season of Co-operative Championships Rugby League,” said RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood. “The Championships have provided us with some highly dramatic fixtures over the past few season and both the Northern Rail Cup final and Championships Finals day are two of the stand out dates in the Ruby League calendar.”

The opening weekend of Championship action will also see beaten Grand Finalists Sheffield Eagles play host to recently promoted Swinton Lions and Featherstone begin their title defence at Keighley, while newcomers North Wales Crusaders will be at home to relegated Barrow Raiders in their opening match in Co-operative Championship One.

Before the Championships competition gets underway, the early part of the season will once again be dominated by action from the Northern Rail Cup which begins on the weekend of February 12. Leigh, who will be hoping to successfully defend their Northern Rail title, begin their defence at home to Barrow Raiders in one of ten games to be played that weekend.

The opening round of cup competition will also see last year’s defeated finalists, Halifax, begin their campaign with an away trip to Dewsbury Rams while Co-operative Championship winners Featherstone travel to face Oldham Roughyeds in their first game of the season.

The Northern Rail Cup quarter-final and semi-final fixtures will be played on the weekends of June 17 and July 8 respectively with the competition climaxing on Saturday, July 29 while the Co-operative Championships Grand Finals day will be on Saturday October 30 and Premier Sports will be there to broadcast all the drama as both league competitions come to a close.

“We are delighted to add the Co-operative Championships to our extensive coverage of Rugby League,” said Director of Operations at Premier Sports, Richard Webb. “The Championships have proved to be one of Rugby League’s the most exciting competitions in recent years and over our first season viewers will have the chance to see games from London to North Wales as well as across the North of England.”

Premier Sports Executive Producer Neal Coupland added, “We are looking forward to some thrilling games, we have assembled a very strong and passionate team to deliver the coverage to UK fans. The journey starts at the magnificent Leigh Sports Village on March 8 and I’m already looking forward to broadcasting finals day at the end of September.”

As in previous year’s, the Northern Rail Cup group stages will be played in two pools with all clubs playing two home games and two away games against teams in their pool. The top four teams in each pool following the conclusion of the group stage fixtures will then progress into an open, unseeded draw for the knock-out quarter-final stage

The pools are as follows:
Pool A:
Batley Bulldogs, Dewsbury Rams, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax, Keighley Cougars, London Skolars, Oldham Roughyeds, Rochdale Hornets, South Wales Scorpions, Toulouse Olympique,
Pool B:
Barrow Raiders, Doncaster, Gateshead Thunder, Hunslet Hawks, Leigh Centurions, Sheffield Eagles, Swinton Lions, Whitehaven, Workington Town, York City Knights

Fans of Championship Rugby League cam find details of how to subscribe to Premier Sports at where they can book a season ticket offer for all the action which will see £10 of each subscription going back to the club chosen by the viewer.