Launch of The Championship

Wednesday saw the launch of the inaugural Championship in English domestic rugby, with a place in the Guinness Premiership at stake as the ultimate prize.

The Championship

The 12-club tournament, formerly National Division One, was unveiled at Twickenham where the final will take place on May 8, 2010 with a new trophy and promotion on offer.

“Significant investment from the RFU and Premier Rugby Ltd, coupled with more matches and television coverage under the Sky Sports contract, will give the clubs more financial security than ever before and create a vibrant and viable structure to take the game forward.”

RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew said: “The Championship will provide quality rugby for spectators as well as developing players, coaches and referees in a competitive and professional environment.

“Ten of England’s Under-20 squad at this year’s World Championship in Japan, including captain Calum Clark (Leeds Carnegie) and Henry Trinder (Moseley) played in this league last season so it plays a vital role in the future of the England team.”

RFU Tournament and Competitions Director Terry Burwell said: “This is an important development in taking league rugby in England to a new level and has multiple benefits for everyone involved. We have worked hard with the clubs to get to this stage and we are looking forward to the inaugural Championship season.”

Geoff Irvine, RFU Council representative for the Championship Clubs, added: “This is a new and exciting concept. The clubs are throwing themselves wholeheartedly into making this competition a success.

“All the teams have recruited well and if we thought it was tough league last year it’s going to be even tougher this season – there will be no place to hide.”

How the Championship works

Reduction from 16 to 12 clubs
Bedford Blues, Birmingham & Solihull, Bristol Rugby, Cornish Pirates, Coventry, Doncaster Knights, Exeter Chiefs, London Welsh, Moseley, Nottingham Rugby, Plymouth Albion, Rotherham Titans

League programme (22 matches)
* all teams playing 22 matches (11 home & 11 away)
* 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for either a) scoring * 4 or more tries or b) losing by 7 points or less
* top 8 teams from league progress to promotion play-offs
* teams 9-12 from league progress to relegation play-offs

Promotion play-offs (8 matches)
* 2 pools of 4 teams playing 6 matches (3 home & 3 away)
* 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for either a) scoring * 4 or more tries or b) losing by 7 points or less
* teams ranked 1, 4, 5 & 8 from league play in Pool A
* teams ranked 2, 3, 6 & 7 from league play in Pool B
* after 6 pool matches, top 2 teams from Pools A & B progress to semi final and then the winners to the final
* semi final draw – 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B & 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A
* promotion play-off matches scheduled March 13 – April 17
* semi finals May 1 & final May 8 at Twickenham
* winner of Championship final promoted to Guinness Premiership subject to fulfilling entry criteria

Relegation play-offs (6 matches)
* 1 pool of 4 teams playing 6 matches (3 home & 3 away)
* 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for either a) scoring
* 4 or more tries or b) losing by 7 points or less
* relegation play-off matches scheduled for March 13 – April 17
* after 6 pool matches played, lowest ranked team is relegated to newly-named National Division One (level three)

3 thoughts on “Launch of The Championship

  1. Whilst I’m glad that the structure has been changed slightly, and extra investment being put into the championship, the play-off system seems slightly unfair. There could be a dominant team for the majority of the season, who then under-perform in the play-offs, or could be unbeaten and streaks ahead in the league, only to lose in the final. There was a large debate when the premiership format was changed, but surely with so much at stake for these clubs trying to secure promotion, it will not necessarily reward the consistent performer, nor the club most equipped to survive a full season in the premiership.

  2. The play-off system I believe if vital. It has worked brilliantly in the Guinness Premiership as it has shown the frailties of teams who while are able to dominate for most of the season in the league, make absolutely no headway in competitions of even relative importance (i.e. the EDF Cup and the the HEC).

    To be brutally honest, if like Gloucester and dominating the league for the best part of a season, you can’t then make it stick in either a league play off semi-final or a final then there is something seriously wrong in how you run your team. Dean Ryan was found out swiftly after his first Guinness Premiership play off fiasco and afterwards teams as far afield as the South of France and Ireland knew how to expose his teams mental frailties.

    Play-offs benefit the survivor and the team who pushes hardest despite numerous setbacks. Surely the team that has a rough start but ends up challenging for honours in the top 4 at the end is better suited for a Premiership campaign than the team cruising along at the top for most of the season and then flopping at the last hurdle.

  3. Prestwick, I agree that the play-off system is vital and would bring much needed revenue to clubs via gate receipts and gives the league a more competitive edge. But unless Loaned Players and Dual Registered players aren’t allowed in the play-offs then I disagree when you state these ‘play-offs’ will benefit the survivor and the team who pushes hardest.

    Loaned players and the introduction of Dual registered players makes nonsense of saying the best club will make it to the top. With certain clubs having padded-out their team by using loaned players and a seemingly endless supply of D/R players, then it will be a case of those who are in-bed with a Premiership Club and access to these players that would have the better chance of success.

    One example is that of Nottingham RFC, who have on occasion fielded a team of which nearly half were LP/DR players, and of course bring skill levels that Nottingham wouldn’t necessarily have – or indeed afford.

    Individual clubs can feel rightly aggrieved when building a squad from their own financial resources only to be beaten by an artificially pumped –up team that looks good regarding league position – but meaningless in reality – evidenced when their parent club calls their loaned players back into the fold.

    This will a negative effect on the Championship. The LP/DR situation needs to be looked at or it will be the Championship that ends up being an ‘artificially pumped-up’ league – looking good on paper but meaningless in reality.

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