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Honor James

Seismic shift for 2013 Championships

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Rugby League fans will witness the most exciting Championships season ever in 2013 with a trio of new clubs preparing to make their professional debuts in a revamped Championship One competition alongside an expanded and ultra-competitive 14-team Championship.

A restructured Northern Rail Cup competition adds to the excitement of a season that kicks-off on Thursday January 31st when 2012 Northern Rail Cup holders Halifax host defending Championship winners Sheffield Eagles in the opening league contest.

The new-look 14-team Championship will deliver 26 rounds of regular season action before climaxing with the Grand Final which will once again be played as part of the Championships Finals Day in front of the Premier Sports cameras in September.

Before the Championship title is decided, the Championship One crown will be up for grabs on Finals Day and with three new clubs joining the ranks to compete in the most geographically diverse competition ever, Rugby League fans are sure to be treated to an intriguing battle between old and new throughout the year.

The Championship One season will begin on Friday March 29th, when University of Gloucestershire All Golds will play their first ever professional league fixture against fellow debutants Oxford Rugby League while Hemel Stags, who complete the triumvirate of new-comers to Championship One, begin their campaign away to London Skolars. All three new clubs were welcomed into the Championships by existing members during a meeting held in Huddersfield last week (Wednesday November 21) which looked ahead to the 2013 season with the clubs forming a working group to look at enhancing the league’s major events.

Prior to the league season commencing, the Championship One clubs, minus Oxford, will be involved in the group stages of a re-structured Northern Rail Cup competition which begins on the weekend of March 2nd and 3rd. The eight Championship One clubs involved will compete in two groups of four with the top team in each group then progressing to join all 14 Championship clubs in the knock-out rounds when the competition intensifies in May, with the chance to secure the first silverware of the season on the weekend of July 20th and 21st looming large on the horizon.

RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “There is a real sense of anticipation surrounding the 2013 campaign and the introductions of Hemel, Gloucester and Oxford to the professional ranks has generated real interest in the Championship One competition. These clubs all offer the sport a unique opportunity to take games into areas where we haven’t been before and the potential to attract new fans, players and volunteers is something that we are all very excited about.

“With new clubs, new players and three new-look competitions, I believe this is going to be the most exciting and important Championships season ever. The enthusiasm with which all three clubs have embraced their introduction to the professional ranks has been a real boost to the Championships and with those clubs joining North Wales Crusaders, South Wales Scorpions, London Skolars, Gateshead Thunder, Rochdale and Oldham, Championship One is certainly pushing the game’s geographical boundaries.

“With the Championship also embracing changes and expanding to become a 14-team competition it promises to be one of the most competitive leagues we have ever seen with all 14 clubs capable of beating one another and I feel certain that we will be treated to captivating action throughout the season across both divisions.

“The Northern Rail Cup also promises to deliver an intriguing competition right from the off with the Championship One clubs battling it out to earn a spot in the knock-out stages and with Premier Sports back on board for the 2013 campaign, I feel confident that we will be treated to some top-class action throughout the months ahead.”

Hannah Molloy

RFL media team

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A very positive release. I hope all the clubs in CC1 are solid and complete the season. How many promotion spots are there ? Who are the the favourites for CC1 ? For me Oldham, Rochdale and Crusaders must be favourites with Hemel the best of the rest.

CC could be a great competition but no one knows who are favourites due to the uncertainty of the feeder team arrangements on the strength of teams. One would for instance normally, based on last seasons results, have Hunslet in the bottom three or four but if they get half a team from Leeds this could completely distort the picture.

Dewsbury, Featherstone,Oldham, Workington and Hemel should all have improved stadia to add to the already excellent grounds at Rochdale, Halifax, Batley, Gateshead, Sheffield ( if at Bramall Lane), Leigh and Doncaster.

It will certainly be interesting. Of that there can be no doubt.

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A very positive release. I hope all the clubs in CC1 are solid and complete the season. How many promotion spots are there ? Who are the the favourites for CC1 ? For me Oldham, Rochdale and Crusaders must be favourites with Hemel the best of the rest.

Would be a hell of a season for hemel to finish ahead of four established clubs in their first year..

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A very positive release. I hope all the clubs in CC1 are solid and complete the season. How many promotion spots are there ? Who are the the favourites for CC1 ? For me Oldham, Rochdale and Crusaders must be favourites with Hemel the best of the rest.

CC could be a great competition but no one knows who are favourites due to the uncertainty of the feeder team arrangements on the strength of teams. One would for instance normally, based on last seasons results, have Hunslet in the bottom three or four but if they get half a team from Leeds this could completely distort the picture.

Dewsbury, Featherstone,Oldham, Workington and Hemel should all have improved stadia to add to the already excellent grounds at Rochdale, Halifax, Batley, Gateshead, Sheffield ( if at Bramall Lane), Leigh and Doncaster.

It will certainly be interesting. Of that there can be no doubt.

London Skolars will be up there as well and Oxford are rumoured to be much stronger than expected. Hemel are a good club off the field but don't see them challenging for the title. I expect Barrow will be bottom of the Championship due to them not signing a feeder club arrangement

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The fact this press release says nothing at all about "Partnership" agreements in trying to hype up the Championships says a lot!

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The fact this press release says nothing at all about "Partnership" agreements in trying to hype up the Championships says a lot!

Why should it mention it, I would find it odd if it did.

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I agree it would be odd to see it mentioned in such a press release.

There can be no doubt however it is set to have a big impact on the 2013 Championship.

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London Skolars will be up there as well and Oxford are rumoured to be much stronger than expected. Hemel are a good club off the field but don't see them challenging for the title. I expect Barrow will be bottom of the Championship due to them not signing a feeder club arrangement

Bottom of the established clubs perhaps. I can't see them finishing below any of the new clubs and probably not Gateshead either.

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Why should it mention it, I would find it odd if it did.

The objective of this press release is to hype up the Championships. If the "powers that be" are truly convinced "partnerships" are a good thing for the marketability of the Championships, surely they would've included something about them in this spiel?

If, on the other hand, they recognise in their heart-of-hearts that "partnerships" are all about cost-cutting and protectionism of pre-existing SL clubs with a series of negative knock on effects for the credibility of the Championships - they would perhaps be too embarassed to say anything about it in a "good news" message of this nature?

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I can't realistically think of a reason why you would include anything about partnerships in this good news release.

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Bottom of the established clubs perhaps. I can't see them finishing below any of the new clubs and probably not Gateshead either.

Remember Barrow got promoted

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Remember Barrow got promoted

Ah - yes my bad. All three Cumbrian sides went up. In that case you are probably right, one of them is bound to go down, they all compete for the same players.

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The objective of this press release is to hype up the Championships. If the "powers that be" are truly convinced "partnerships" are a good thing for the marketability of the Championships, surely they would've included something about them in this spiel?

If, on the other hand, they recognise in their heart-of-hearts that "partnerships" are all about cost-cutting and protectionism of pre-existing SL clubs with a series of negative knock on effects for the credibility of the Championships - they would perhaps be too embarassed to say anything about it in a "good news" message of this nature?

Zzzzzzz... Negative BS. Dull dull dull.

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London Skolars will be up there as well and Oxford are rumoured to be much stronger than expected. Hemel are a good club off the field but don't see them challenging for the title. I expect Barrow will be bottom of the Championship due to them not signing a feeder club arrangement

Keighley are in the same boat.We will just have to try to beat the odds.

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Ah - yes my bad. All three Cumbrian sides went up. In that case you are probably right, one of them is bound to go down, they all compete for the same players.

Barrow's in Lancashire. :mellow:

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Ah - yes my bad. All three Cumbrian sides went up. In that case you are probably right, one of them is bound to go down, they all compete for the same players.

We don't really compete for the same players, not many south cumbria players go to West Cumbria unless they can't get a game for Barrow.

Even though we arnt in a feeder arrangment we've still got a fairly good squad. We'll also have a squad of our own players who will play for eachother, know how eachother work and will play for the club. In 2011 we arguably had the strongest squad on paper, but we finished 5th (bar the points deduction) and were no where near top. Its not all about who has an SL quality player as we didn't play as team and therefore got beat often. There isn't a point in having an SL fringe player in your side because if they don't fit in the team then they are useless.

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Barrow's in Lancashire. :mellow:

I said Cumbria not Cumberland.

Barrow might be in Lancashire but it is also in Cumbria.

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I said Cumbria not Cumberland.

Barrow might be in Lancashire but it is also in Cumbria.

Cumbria's not a place. It's a council.

You'll be telling me Featherstone's in Wakefield next. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :dry:

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Barrow's in Lancashire. :mellow:

There are no Professional clubs in Lancashire since Blackpool went under.

Barrow has been in Cumbria since 1973 - is that long enough for you, or is that too much modernisation of the game for you flat cappers?

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RFL have managed to make a right mess of the Championship with this ridiculous scheme between the SL and most Championship clubs. You are going to get some teams who will have a strong team one week and a much weaker one the next week! I wouldnt say its exciting more be interesting to see how it works out. Most fans are not happy but maybe that view will change.

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There are no Professional clubs in Lancashire since Blackpool went under.

Barrow has been in Cumbria since 1973 - is that long enough for you, or is that too much modernisation of the game for you flat cappers?

Blackpool hasn't been Lancashire since the mid 90s you flat capper

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Blackpool hasn't been Lancashire since the mid 90s you flat capper

Has it moved?

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NRC Final set for the weekend of 20/21 July, but will it be in Blackpool once again?

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NRC Final set for the weekend of 20/21 July, but will it be in Blackpool once again?

Yes it will be played at bloomfield road in blackpool in lancashire! ha

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