Centurions elevated in Rugby League reorganisation
RUGBY LEAGUE: AMATEUR rugby league in England has undergone a dramatic reorganisation of its amateur set up and St Albans Centurions have been included and moved up to a higher division.
The Rugby Football League has confirmed how the first fully integrated summer based season for the whole sport will look when it kicks off in Spring 2012. Almost 90 per cent of all Rugby League teams in this country will be playing between March and October in this newly aligned four-tier pyramid structure.
Up until December 2011, amateur rugby league in Britain has been divided. The British Amateur Rugby League Association (Barla) has been the governing body of the amateur game that is played in the northern counties during the winter months, whilst the Rugby League Conference (RLC) has been running that part of the amateur game that is played during the summer months and which now has teams in every English county.
From the start of the 2012 season, both these organisations are coming together under the umbrella of the Rugby Football League to form a professional-to-amateur rugby league pyramid structure, as seen in other sports, like association football.
In 2012, professional and amateur rugby will be played over a full eight month March to October season and will be made up of four tiers.
Tier One will be the fully professional ‘Superleague’ clubs.
Tier Two will be the professional and semi-professional teams of the Championship and Championship One.
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Tier Three is to consist of national leagues, made up of numerous Barla and RLC teams with a Conference Premiership and Conference Divisions 1, 2 and 3.
Tier Four will be made up of local Regional Leagues which will also have a premier division as the pinnacle of the structure, and below this will be numerous Regional Leagues depending on the number of teams in their area as well as the quality of playing standard.
Within these Regional leagues will be teams from the current RLC Premier and Regional summer competitions as well as clubs that have switched from winter Barla competitions.
Below these will be the merit leagues, made up of newly formed clubs or clubs that only play ‘social’ rugby.
St Albans Centurions have been put in National Conference League Three, alongside clubs like Bramley Buffaloes from Yorkshire, Coventry Bears from the Midlands, Valley Cougars from South Wales and, renewing an old rivalry, Hemel Hempstead Stags.
“This is a step up from a regional league to a national one for the St Albans club and club chairman Brian Parker said “Things are getting quite exciting in amateur rugby league at the moment, and it is a big honour for the club to be included in Conference League 3.
“This is a very high standard, and we would like to think that we were considered, not only for our playing capabilities, but also for our club set up, our junior and schools programmes, our facilities, and also for our ambitions.
“The club is really looking forward to being involved in this new endeavour”.
Cents head coach, Shane Rampling added: “We knew this reorganisation was coming up and that it would mean a big commitment from the players and committee members to commit to an eight months season in a much tougher, higher league.
“We had a meeting and put it to the boys and they gave us their overwhelming backing.
“Playing rugby league from March to October, including national and local cups is a big ask, but we are confident we can do it, and we are looking forward to it as well.”
St Albans’s fixture list will be released in the next couple of weeks.