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Honor James

New-look Championships ready for an Extraordinary 2013

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The most exciting season of Championships Rugby League will open next Thursday (January 31) when Halifax and Sheffield Eagles kick-off a new-look campaign in front of the Premier Sports cameras at The Shay Stadium.

Defending champions Sheffield will face intense competition in 2013 with Barrow Raiders, Doncaster, Whitehaven and Workington Town all moving up the ranks to form an expanded 14-team Championship which will deliver 26 rounds of compelling action before the race to the Grand Final begins.

In Championship One, Hemel Stags, Oxford and University of Gloucestershire All Golds have all made the step up to the professional ranks for the first time in their respective histories and will join North Wales Crusaders, South Wales Scorpions, London Skolars, Gateshead Thunder, Rochdale Hornets and Oldham to compete in the most geographically diverse competition in Rugby League history.

With new players, new fans and new rivalries to look forward to in both division, 2013 promises to deliver an action-packed campaign with players across both competitions hoping to earn their place in the Rugby League World Cup 2013, which kicks-off in late October.

Alongside two new-look domestic leagues, the Northern Rail Cup has also undergone a transformation during the off-season and the re-structured competition kicks-off with the group stages on Easter Weekend, when eight Championship One clubs embark on the journey to Blackpool. At the conclusion of the group stage, the top two Championship One clubs will take their place in the knock-out rounds alongside all 14 Championship clubs as the competition builds in a straight knockout.

Speaking at the season’s official launch at The Mercure Hotel, Sheffield today, RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “The Championships have delivered some of the most entertaining Rugby League at any level in recent seasons and with a series of changes across all three competitions, 2013 promises to deliver the most thrilling action to date.

“The introductions of Hemel, Gloucestershire and Oxford to the semi-professional ranks has generated a real level on anticipation and rejuvenated interest in the Championship One competition. All three sides have already underlined their determination to challenge some of the game’s most established clubs for supremacy at that level.

“The three new clubs provide the sport with a unique opportunity to take games into new areas and that is something that we are all very excited about and with two clubs set to earn promotion from Championship One this season, the competition will certainly be stiff.

“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. All 14 clubs are capable of beating one another and I feel certain that we will be treated to captivating action throughout the season.

“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 look forward to watching some top-class action during the months ahead.”

The new-look Rugby League Championships website was also launched today – please visit http://www.rugbyleag...ionships.co.uk/ to catch up on all the latest news and views from this exciting competition.

-ends-

Nathan Clarke

Media Executive

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Good stuff ! Keep theositive vibes flowing !

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Good stuff ! Keep theositive vibes flowing !

Not sure how positive being without a title sponsor is

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Not sure how positive being without a title sponsor is

so out of everything else, a launch of supposedly a sport you love, that is all you could pick up on?

Ffs.

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Not sure how positive being without a title sponsor is

Listen to RL Extra on Radio Manchester on i-player. Some really good comments on there from Ian Lenaghan. He was quite critical of the commercial decisions the game has made over the past 5-10 years, but was very optimistic that a lot of work has been done over the past 12 months to get us back into a good position and that we'll start to see the fruits of that now.

Nigel Wood is of the view that within 14-28 days many of the concerns that people have voiced about the commercial side of the game will have been addressed.

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Website looks good :)

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Listen to RL Extra on Radio Manchester on i-player. Some really good comments on there from Ian Lenaghan. He was quite critical of the commercial decisions the game has made over the past 5-10 years, but was very optimistic that a lot of work has been done over the past 12 months to get us back into a good position and that we'll start to see the fruits of that now.

Nigel Wood is of the view that within 14-28 days many of the concerns that people have voiced about the commercial side of the game will have been addressed.

I really hope so, we have a fantastic on field product that has been woefully undersold in recent years, both in terms of sponsorship and tv rights.

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so out of everything else, a launch of supposedly a sport you love, that is all you could pick up on?

Ffs.

Pick a major UK sport that would launch any competition with the embarrassment of not having a sponsor, might as well get a twelve bore and point it straight at your shoes.

Everything is not rosy in this garden, but I suppose the happy clappy gestapo struggle with the concept.

FFS

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Pick a major UK sport that would launch any competition with the embarrassment of not having a sponsor

FFS

Who sponsors Rugby Union's 2nd tier?

Ffs indeed.

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Who sponsors Rugby Union's 2nd tier?

Ffs indeed.

Awesome, brilliant, that makes it all OK then.

I retract previous negative statements, all is fantastic with this game

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Awesome, brilliant, that makes it all OK then.

I retract previous negative statements, all is fantastic with this game

Always to the extremes. You wanted to criticise the RFL on a thread that really wasnt about dponsorship, completely ignoring every positive out there.

You then laid a challenge about other sports and get sarcy when you are made to look silly.

Interestingly, uk athletics are ending their aviva sponsorship as they are going for a panel of partners approach.

On topic - its exciting to see the new clubs lining up against historic names. Nice to see the extraordinary branding being used.

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Did the RFL find the new Salford owner? If so they're freaking awesome in my book.

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Was tweeting with an Irish lad who has started following RL (he plays union) because one of his mates now plays for Oxford - John James Baird

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In Championship One, Hemel Stags, Oxford and University of Gloucestershire All Golds have all made the step up to the professional ranks for the first time in their respective histories and will join North Wales Crusaders, South Wales Scorpions, London Skolars, Gateshead Thunder, Rochdale Hornets and Oldham to compete in the most geographically diverse competition in Rugby League history.

To be pedantic, it's the most diverse semi-pro competition. There have been quite a few competitions that are / were more diverse.

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To be pedantic, it's the most diverse semi-pro competition. There have been quite a few competitions that are / were more diverse.

Name them? Unless you're including international sides that play in the World Cup or the Challenge Cup when Russian sides were involved!

I can't think of a league rather than cup competition.

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Student Rugby League and National League Three / RLC National Division to begin with.

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championship 2 willbe great as long as the team you support isnt in it.

I think only Oldham / Rochdale fans feel that way. I am sure that Stags, Gateshead, Skolars etc fans will be very happy.

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Student Rugby League and National League Three / RLC National Division to begin with.

Yep. Student Rugby League for sure. Good one.

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Who sponsors Rugby Union's 2nd tier?

Ffs indeed.

I don't know that one, but they get £300k+ from central and don't have to play big games on a Thursday night for no income.

Are things heading in a better direction now the Lewis era is over YES, are they great today NO. Will they become much better when we bin this Licence carp in March - VERY MUCH SO.

Are Championship fans in favour of the Premier deal - NO!!!!! You can't polish a ######, accept it's a ###### and build for something better. Recovery starts with acceptance, lets hope the building works.

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Pick a major UK sport that would launch any competition with the embarrassment of not having a sponsor, might as well get a twelve bore and point it straight at your shoes.

Everything is not rosy in this garden, but I suppose the happy clappy gestapo struggle with the concept.

FFS

lol

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I've no desire to engage in licensing discussion on a Championship launch thread.

There's plenty of threads knocking round about licensing.

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Looking forward to it and very hard to predict as usual. I would say the Championship is the best comp to watch in the UK. It may lack some of the standards a SL game might offer but you see some very close games and a bit more phsical stuff which I prefer at times. As with SL I dont agree with the top 8. The top 6 concept was about right as it was. I also dont think the Premiersports deal is that good especially when games are on a Thursday. Its OK if its a derby game like Dewsbury v Batley, Workington V Whitehaven or Doncaster v Shgeffield,but any club playing Thursday hosting Halifax, Leigh or Featherstone are likely to lose out big time financially as hundreds will be knocked off the crowd size

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We aren't the problem though are we, we will support our clubs come what may. We will go the extra mile, sponsorships, season tickets, lottery, ISA etc

We know we watch a great comp, we know Thursdays/Premier contract are a joke, but how do we attract new/lapsed fans who say 'whats the point when you win it and go nowhere?'

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We aren't the problem though are we, we will support our clubs come what may. We will go the extra mile, sponsorships, season tickets, lottery, ISA etc

We know we watch a great comp, we know Thursdays/Premier contract are a joke, but how do we attract new/lapsed fans who say 'whats the point when you win it and go nowhere?'

Spot on!

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