RFU unveils plans for rugby's Championship

Eight National One clubs will have the chance to fight for a place in the Guinness Premiership under a new competition set to replace English rugby’s second tier.

The new 12-team Championship division is still subject to RFU Council approval but looks likely to get the green light from Twickenham following 12 months of talks between the RFU and the National One clubs’ umbrella body, First Division Rugby.

Under the new league rules, set to kick off for the 2009-10 season, the top eight finishers in the Championship will split into two groups of four playing home and away before semi-finals and a final to decide who gets the golden ticket to the Guinness Premiership.

RFU Management Board Chairman Martyn Thomas said: "The Championship will be a vital part of the structure of English rugby.

"For too long First Division Rugby has hovered between the community game and the Premiership, uncertain of both its standing in the structure and its future. Now is the time to establish its rightful place.

"The RFU is fully committed to funding and supporting a professional and robust league with minimum entry criteria and a salary cap that will support the Guinness Premiership.

"We will be increasing our funding to the new Championship from £1.65m a year to £2.3m and, under the new eight-year agreement, PRL have committed to a £1m per annum funding.

"That significant investment, 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."

The radical new plans also include an overhaul of the much maligned EDF Energy Anglo-Welsh Cup, which is set to encompass Championship sides.

There will also be knock-on effects for the leagues below the Championship, as set out below:



Proposed Championship structure

- Reduction from 16 to 12 clubs

- 22 regular season matches

- Promotion play-offs for the top eight (each club to play minimum of six matches)

- Two pools of four, playing home and away

- Top two from each pool to play in Championship semi-finals

- Winning semi-finalists to play in Championship final

- Final could be played on a home and away basis or at Twickenham

- Winner of Championship final promoted to Guinness Premiership subject to meeting Minimum Standards Criteria



Relegation play-offs for the bottom four (each club to play minimum of six matches)

- Home and away fixtures

- Bottom club in play-off pool relegated to newly-named National Division One (level three)



Anglo-Welsh Cup (each club/region to play minimum of four matches)

- 12 Guinness Premiership clubs, four Welsh regions, four Championship clubs (one relegated from GP, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers in previous season's Championship, or National Division One for season 08-09)

- Four pools of five (three GP, one Welsh Region, one Championship club)

- Played on a home or away basis

- Pool winners qualify for the semi-finals

- Winning semi-finalists play in Cup final



Anglo-Welsh Trophy (each club to play minimum of six matches)

- Eight Championship clubs, eight Welsh Principality Premiership clubs

- Four regional pools of four to provide local derbies

- Played on a home and away basis

- Pool winners qualify for the semi-finals

- Winning semi-finalists play in Trophy final

Championship clubs will be guaranteed a minimum of 32 or 34 matches, (depending on which Anglo-Welsh tournament they play in) including 16 home games. Teams reaching the finals of both the Championship play-offs and an Anglo-Welsh tournament will play an additional four/five matches.



Entry and eligibility

- Clubs finishing 2nd to 11th in National Division One at end of season 2008-9 invited to join the Championship for 2009-10 along with relegated club from Guinness Premiership and promoted club from National Division Two

- Minimum entry criteria based on simplified version of Premiership criteria

- Salary cap based on simplified version of Premiership criteria

- If any clubs do not wish to join the Championship, invitations will be extended to the other four National Division One clubs and then top two from National Division Two based on league positions



Funding

- Rights fee share from Sky Sports for a new five-year agreement commencing in 2010-11

- PRL funding of £1m per annum to Championship over eight years

- RFU funding of £2.3m per annum comprising core funding in first two years to be then replaced by revenue for clubs fielding English Qualified Players and who invest in their facilities



National League competitions

- The new National Division One will become a 16-team league comprising five clubs not included in the Championship, nine clubs from National Division Two, one promoted from National Division Three South, one promoted from National Division Three North.

- The new National Division Two will become two leagues of 16 clubs divided into North and South divisions comprising clubs from the existing National Division Three North and South.

- The new National Division Three will be based divisionally on four leagues (South West, London, North and Midlands) comprising clubs from the current existing National Division Three and below.



News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game