Rugby League’s most geographically diverse competition, Kingstone Press League 1, will embark on its brand new structure when the competition gets underway on Saturday March 5.
2016 sees the introduction of a split after 15 rounds with the top eight playing each other once and the top two after seven rounds battling it out for the first promotion spot to the Kingstone Press Championship.
The loser enters a four-team play-off against fifth-place whilst second and third play off for a place in the second play-off final with the victors securing promotion.
The bottom seven after 15 rounds, who will be playing for the inaugural League 1 Shield, will tussle with each team twice, once home and once away, and first and second after seven rounds will go head-to-head for the League 1 Shield.
As well as a new structure, League 1 sees the introduction of Toulouse Olympique XIII who open the new season hosting Coventry Bears at the Stades des Minimes on Saturday March 5.
Toulouse, who previously played in the Championship between 2009 and 2011, will not compete in the iPro Sport Cup but will enter the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup in the third round along with the other 14 League 1 clubs.
The iPro Sport Cup, which was scooped by North Wales Crusaders in 2015, will reach its climax on Saturday May 28 2016 at 12.00pm – the curtain raiser to the Summer Bash. The North Wales Crusaders will take on Barrow Raiders at home in the first round of the league.
Relegated from the Championship, Doncaster and Hunslet Hawks will begin life in League 1 at home to the Gloucestershire All Golds and away to Rochdale Hornets, respectively.
Beaten League 1 play-off finalists Keighley Cougars begin their quest for promotion to the Championship away at South Wales Scorpions whilst the York City Knights will begin their season at home to London Skolars.
With League 1 now a 15-team competition, bye rounds will be introduced for every team, and Hemel Stags have a bye week in Round One.
To view the full fixtures for 2016 make sure you get a copy of League Express this Monday!
2016 KEY DATES – KINGSTONE PRESS LEAGUE 1
Weekend of 6-7 – Round One of the Kingstone Press League 1
Friday March 25 – Good Friday – Round Three of the Kingstone Press League 1
Weekend of 28-29 – iPro Sport Cup final at Summer Bash, Blackpool
Weekend 9-10 – Round 15 – final round of regular season fixtures in Kingstone Press League 1
Saturday 27– Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final at Wembley