Historic Championship One season launch
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer looks ahead to a historic Kingstone Press Championship One season
“2013 is a big year for Rugby League in this country and not just because of the World Cup.
The Kingstone Press Championship One kicks off this week and I’m genuinely excited about what this means for the future of the sport.
The new-look competition will be the widest geographical spread of professional clubs in the sport’s history. Gateshead Thunder in the North East, the Crusaders in North Wales, the Scorpions in South Wales and the Skolars in London will be joined by three new clubs - University of Gloucestershire All Golds, Hemel Stags and Oxford RL. Add to that iconic Rugby League names Rochdale Hornets and Oldham and you’ve got a nine-team league that is truly national.
Even before a ball has been kicked, the media coverage the new clubs have generated has been excellent. The draw for the third round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup was done at the new Oxford RL Club and for the first time ever, the event ”trended” on social media while Oxford RL coach Tony Benson, was interviewed on Radio 2’s drive time show.
The new competition is now set to change the perception of Rugby League. Last year London Skolars travelled over 4,000 miles to fulfil their fixtures. Their nearest professional club was Doncaster in south Yorkshire, yet this season they will have two local derbies against Hemel Stags and Oxford RL.
This is the way the sport needs to develop but it doesn’t stop here. Coventry Bears continue to bid to join Kingstone Press Championship One in 2014 and their application will be considered by the RFL Board later in the year ; if successful, they would bring a professional Rugby League presence in the Midlands.
So all that is required now is for the snow to relent for Easter and allow the historic fixtures of three new clubs playing their first league matches to go ahead.
Good luck to all the clubs kicking off the Championship One campaigns this season. You can follow all the action and find out the latest news from the Championships at www.rugbyleaguechampionships.co.uk