RFU Championship

The RFU Championship, known for sponsorship reasons as the Greene King IPA Championship from 2013–14,[1] is the second tier of the English rugby union league system and was founded in September 1987. The twelve-side league was known as National Division One and in 2009 changed from semi-professional clubs to fully professional. The 2019 champions were London Irish, winning automatic promotion to Premiership Rugby.

RFU Championship
Founded1987 (1987)
Country England
Other club(s) from Jersey
Number of teams12
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toPremiership
Relegation toNational League 1
Domestic cup(s)Championship Cup
Current championsLondon Irish (2nd title)
(2019–20)
Most championshipsBristol Bears (4 titles)
TV partnersSky Sports
Websitechampionshiprugby.co.uk
2019–20 RFU Championship

Originally the league required an end-of-season round of two-legged play-offs in which the top eight, from 2012-13 until 2016-17 revised to top four, clubs at the end of the main phase of the season played each other.

History

On 10 November 2008 it was proposed by the Rugby Football Union that the second tier of the English rugby union system should be a fully professional twelve club Championship. The proposal was criticised by the then National League One chairman Geoff Irvine, representing the clubs, who described it as "financial suicide", although, six League One clubs subsequently supported the proposal. The proposals required five clubs to be relegated to National Division Two, with only one club being promoted from that division and one club joining the league from the Premiership.[2] On 15 November 2008 the RFU Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new proposal, which began in September 2009.[3] Under the proposal the RFU paid £2.3 million a year to help fund the change, with future rises due through television rights.[2]

Since 2009–10 season the team that wins the Championship league is not automatically promoted to the Premiership, instead a play-off competition takes place to determine which team is promoted. For the first three seasons the top eight clubs had to enter the play-offs. Since 2012–13 they have been between the top four clubs. If the play-offs winner and/or runner-up fall short of minimum standards criteria (in grounds etc.) for entry to the Premiership no promotion or relegation takes place between the two divisions as to such a club. The RFU have clarified that they will not consider promoting lower-placed sides in the play-offs even if they finished top of the league phase (league table). The play-offs format has been criticised by the media, players and fans alike, resulting in its shortening to the top four clubs after the main part of the season and its abolition for the 2017-2018 season onwards.[4][5]

Until 2013 a relegation play-off round took place between the four lowest placed clubs in the Championship.

2009–10 season

The 2009–10 RFU Championship season was the first in which the league was fully professional. Silversmiths Thomas Lyte created a new trophy for the launch.[6]

Beginning with the 2009-10 season, the winner of the Championship league isn't automatically promoted to the Premiership. Instead, a play-off competition between the top eight clubs was held to determine the promoted club. The first, fourth, fifth and eighth placed clubs entered Group A; the second, third, sixth and seventh placed clubs entered Group B. Each side played the other sides in their division home-and-away. The two highest-placed sides in each division went through to a single-leg semi-final, and the semi-final winners played a two-legged final. The two legs of the final were played at the two competing clubs' home grounds, rather than at Twickenham.

In the event that the winner of the play-off competition did not meet the minimum standards criteria for entry to the Premiership, there was to be no promotion or relegation between the Championship and Premiership for that season. That did not apply in 2009–10, as the RFU announced before the second leg of the Championship final that both participants, Bristol and Exeter, met the criteria for promotion.

There was also a play-off between the four lowest placed clubs in the Championship to determine who was relegated to National League 1.

Criticism and changes for 2010–11

The formats of both the promotion and relegation play-offs were criticised after that first season. In both phases, all teams began equal, regardless of their performance during the home-and-away season. Moseley, who had been in serious relegation danger after a poor start to the play-offs, were particularly angry about the format because they started the relegation phase equal to the other three teams involved; despite having won ten matches during the season to Birmingham's none. It was also felt that starting all teams equal in the promotion phase gave teams little incentive to win the regular season because there was no reward for a high finish within the top eight.[7] As a result, the following changes were made to the promotion and relegation phases:[7]

  • In the promotion phase:
    • The top two clubs at the end of the regular season started the play-off on 3 points.
    • The third- and fourth-placed clubs started on 2 points.
    • The fifth- and sixth-place clubs started on 1 point.
    • The remaining two clubs started on 0 points.
    • The semi-finals changed from one-off to two-legged matches.
  • In the relegation phase, clubs carried over 1 point for each win in the regular season.

Further changes for 2012–13

The play-off format had been developed to increase club revenues, as each club had been assured of at least two home fixtures after the home-and-away season. However, criticism remained, especially from the best performing clubs, as they had to navigate ten additional fixtures in order to earn promotion. Bristol had particular reason to feel aggrieved; in two seasons under the revamped format, they finished first in the table, but lost in the 2010 play-off final to Exeter and in the 2012 semi-finals to Cornish Pirates (in 2011, the final was contested between Worcester Warriors, who had won the league, and Cornish Pirates).[8]

As a result, the RFU eliminated pool play for both promotion and relegation. Starting with the 2012–13 season and continuing through to 2016–17, the top four clubs at the end of the regular season enter promotion play-offs. The format is the same as the 2011 and 2012 knockout stages, with two-legged semi-finals followed by a two-legged final. This system is identical to that of the Premiership, except that it uses two-legged matches instead of the Premiership's one-off matches. Relegation play-offs were eliminated; the bottom side is now automatically relegated (also mirroring the Premiership). Bristol's chairman Chris Booy welcomed the changes, telling the BBC,[8]

"We had a mad 10 minutes in Penzance and our whole (2011–12) season fell apart. We've got the system changed and I was one of the main lobbyists for that. I think it will prepare us better because we can manage our squad to be in peak condition for the semis' and the final. A number of teams will be fighting to get into the top four, whereas before they were resting (sic) to get into the top eight."

From 2017–18 forward, the RFU will eliminate the promotion play-offs for a minimum of three seasons. The club finishing atop the regular-season table will be automatically promoted to the Premiership, provided said club meets minimum entry criteria.[9]

Competition funding

The RFU Championship clubs were in dispute with the RFU over funding for the competition and claimed that each club was owed £77,000 for the past three seasons, and will be owed a further £120,000 over the next four seasons. The clubs believed they should have receive £295,000 in 2009–10, rising to £400,000 by 2015–16 and further believe there was a breach of contract on the part of the RFU. The RFU stated that the original funding was an estimate and by 2015–16 the figure will be £359,400.[10] When the RFU announced the end of promotion play-offs, it also announced funding increases from both itself and the Premiership, including a new system which ties some of the new funding to each Championship side's performance in the league season.[9]

On 26 June 2013, the RFU and Greene King Brewery announced the Championship's first-ever name sponsorship deal. The competition will officially be known as the Greene King IPA Championship until the end of the 2019–20 season.[1]

2019–20 season

    Current standings

    2019–20 RFU Championship Table
    Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Diff Try bonus Losing bonus Points
    1Newcastle Falcons6600179611183027
    2Ealing Trailfinders6411198123753021
    3Cornish Pirates6402173103703120
    4Jersey Reds6402172157153120
    5Coventry6312160147133118
    6Nottingham6303120102182115
    7Hartpury6303129119102115
    8London Scottish6213105118-131213
    9Ampthill6213147172-251112
    10Doncaster Knights620482142-60008
    11Bedford Blues6105100120-20138
    12Yorkshire Carnegie600697298-201101
    • If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
    1. Number of matches won
    2. Difference between points for and against
    3. Total number of points for
    4. Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
    5. Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled
    Green background is the promotion place. Pink background is the relegation place.
    Updated: 17 November 2019
    Source: "Greene King IPA Championship". England Rugby.

    List of champions

    National One

    List of National One Winners
    Season Matches Champions Runners–up Relegated teams
    1987–8811Rosslyn ParkLiverpool St HelensNo relegation
    1988–8911SaracensBedfordLondon Scottish and London Welsh
    1989–9011NorthamptonLiverpool St HelensNo relegation[a 1]
    1990–9112RugbyLondon IrishRichmond and Headingley
    1991–9212London ScottishWest HartlepoolPlymouth Albion, Liverpool St Helens
    1992–9312Newcastle GosforthWaterlooBedford, Rosslyn Park, Richmond, Blackheath, Coventry, Fylde, Morley
    1993–9418SaleWest HartlepoolRugby, Otley
    1994–9518SaracensWakefieldFylde, Coventry
    1995–9618NorthamptonLondon IrishNo relegation[a 2]
    1996–9722RichmondNewcastleRugby, Nottingham
    1997–9822BedfordWest Hartlepool[a 3]No relegation[a 4]
    1998–9926BristolRotherhamBlackheath and Fylde
    1999–0026RotherhamLeeds TykesRugby and West Hartlepool
    2000–0126Leeds TykesWorcesterOrrell and Waterloo
    2001–0226RotherhamWorcesterHenley and Bracknell
    2002–0326RotherhamWorcesterMoseley, Rugby Lions
    2003–0426WorcesterOrrellWakefield, Manchester
    2004–0526BristolExeterOrrell, Henley
    2005–0626HarlequinsBedford BluesNo relegation[a 5]
    2006–0730Leeds TykesEarth TitansOtley, Waterloo
    2007–0830Northampton SaintsExeter ChiefsPertemp Bees, Launceston
    2008–0930Leeds TykesExeter ChiefsEsher, Sedgley Park, Newbury, Otley, Manchester
    Green background are promotion places.

    RFU Championship

    List of RFU Championship Winners (Champions decided by a play-off)
    Season Champions Finalists No of matches First stage winners Runners-up Relegated team
    2009–10Exeter ChiefsBristol22BristolExeter ChiefsCoventry
    2010–11Worcester WarriorsCornish Pirates22Worcester WarriorsBedford BluesBirmingham & Solihull
    2011–12London WelshCornish Pirates22BristolBedford BluesEsher
    2012–13Newcastle FalconsBedford Blues22Newcastle FalconsNottinghamDoncaster Knights
    2013–14London WelshBristol23BristolLondon WelshEaling Trailfinders
    2014–15Worcester WarriorsBristol22BristolWorcester WarriorsPlymouth Albion
    2015–16Bristol Doncaster Knights 22BristolDoncaster KnightsMoseley
    2016–17London IrishYorkshire Carnegie22London IrishYorkshire CarnegieNo relegation[a 6]
    Green background are promotion places. Teams in bold are the winners of the 22 match first stage.
    List of RFU Championship Winners (Champions decided by league)
    Season Matches Champions Runners–up Relegated team
    2017–1822BristolEaling TrailfindersRotherham Titans
    2018–1922London IrishEaling TrailfindersRichmond
    2019–2022
    Green background are promotion places.

    Summary of winners and runners-up

    Teams Champions Years titles won Runners-up Years runners-up Top of league standings Number of promotions
    Bristol41999, 2005, 2016, 201832010, 2014, 201574
    Northampton Saints31990, 1996, 200833
    Rotherham Titans32000, 2002, 200321999, 200732
    Yorkshire Carnegie32001, 2007, 200922000, 201733
    Worcester Warriors32004, 2011, 201532001, 2002, 200323
    Saracens21989, 199522
    Newcastle Falcons21993, 20131199723
    London Welsh22012, 201402
    London Irish22017, 201921991, 199624
    Rosslyn Park1198811
    Rugby Lions1199111
    London Scottish1199212
    Sale Sharks1199411
    Richmond1199711
    Bedford Blues1199831989, 2006, 201312
    Harlequins1200611
    Exeter Chiefs1201032005, 2008, 200901
    West Hartlepool31992, 1994, 19983
    Liverpool St Helens21988, 19902
    Cornish Pirates22011, 2012
    Waterloo11993
    Wakefield119941
    Orrell12004

    Original teams

    These are the twelve teams which made up the original league when league rugby began in 1987:

    League results

    League Information Start of Season End of Season
    Season Name Teams Relegated to League Promoted to League Promoted from League Relegated from League
    1996–97 Courage Championship Division One 12 None
    1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership Two 12 None[a 7]
    1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership Two 14 Bristol Bristol
    1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premership Two 14 West Hartlepool Rotherham
    2000–01 National Division One 14 Bedford Blues Leeds Tykes
    2001–02 National Division One 14 Rotherham Titans None
    2002–03 National Division One 14 None Rotherham Titans
    2003–04 National Division One 14 Bristol Shoguns Worcester Warriors Manchester
    2004–05 National Division One 14 Rotherham Titans Bristol
    2005–06 National Division One 14 Harlequins Harlequins None[a 8]
    2006–07 National Division One 16 Leeds Tykes Leeds Tykes
    2007–08 National Division One 16 Northampton Saints Northampton Saints
    2008–09 National Division One 16 Leeds Carnegie Leeds Carnegie
    2009–10 RFU Championship 12 Bristol Birmingham and Solihull Exeter Chiefs Coventry
    2010–11 RFU Championship 12 Worcester Warriors Esher Worcester Warriors Birmingham and Solihull
    2011–12 RFU Championship 12 Leeds Carnegie London Scottish London Welsh Esher
    2012–13 RFU Championship 12 Newcastle Falcons Jersey Newcastle Falcons Doncaster Knights
    2013–14 Greene King IPA Championship 12 London Welsh Ealing Trailfinders London Welsh Ealing Trailfinders
    2014–15 Greene King IPA Championship 12 Worcester Warriors Doncaster Knights Worcester Warriors Plymouth Albion
    2015–16 Greene King IPA Championship 12 London Welsh Ealing Trailfinders Bristol Moseley
    2016–17 Greene King IPA Championship 12 London Irish Richmond London Irish None[a 9]
    2017–18 Greene King IPA Championship 12 Bristol Hartpury College Bristol Rotherham Titans
    2018–19 Greene King IPA Championship 12 London Irish Coventry London Irish Richmond
    2019–20 Greene King IPA Championship 12 Newcastle Falcons Ampthill

    Records

    Note that most records are from 1996-97 season onwards (aside from league champions, promotion and relegation data) as this is widely held as the dawn of professionalism across the English club game except in a few areas. It also offers a better comparison between seasons as the division team numbers are roughly equal (for example when league rugby union first started in 1987-88 the Courage League National Division Two had 12 teams playing 11 games each, compared to 12 teams in 1996-97 playing 24 games (home & away), going up to 16 teams in 2009-10 playing 30 games, back to 12 teams playing 24 games with additional playoff games). Attendance records are from 2000 onwards unless otherwise specified. All records are up to date up till the end of the 2017-18 season.

    League records

    • Most titles: 4
    Bristol (1998–99, 2004–05, 2015–16, 2017–18)
    • Most times promoted from division: 4
    Bristol (1998–99, 2004–05, 2015–16, 2017–18)
    London Irish (1990–91, 1995–96, 2016–17, 2018–19)
    • Most times relegated from division: 4
    Rugby Lions (1993–94, 1996–97, 1999–00, 2002–03)
    • Most league points in a season: 143
    Northampton Saints (2007–08)
    • Least league points in a season: -9
    Pertemps Bees (2009–10)[a 10]
    • Most points scored in a season: 1,321
    Northampton Saints (2007–08)
    • Least points scored in a season: 216
    West Hartlepool (1999–00)
    • Most points conceded in a season: 1,298
    Otley (2008–09)
    • Least points conceded in a season: 252
    Newcastle Falcons (2012–13)[a 11]
    • Best points difference (For/Against): 978
    Northampton Saints (2007–08)
    • Worst points difference (For/Against): -898
    West Hartlepool (1999–00)
    • Most games won in a season: 30
    Northampton Saints (2007–08)
    • Most games lost in a season: 28
    Manchester (2008–09)
    • Most games drawn in a season: 5
    Birmingham & Solihull (2000–01)
    • Most bonus points in a season: 24
    Rotherham Titans (2001–02, 2006–07), Northampton Saints (2007–08)

    Match records

    • Largest home win: 156 - 5
    Newcastle Falcons at home to Rugby Lions on 5 October 1996 (1996–97)
    • Largest away win: 104 - 0
    Leeds Carnegie away to Manchester on 8 April 2009 (2008–09)
    • Most points scored in a match: 156
    Newcastle Falcons at home to Rugby Lions on 5 October 1996 (1996–97)
    • Most tries scored in a match: 24
    Newcastle Falcons at home to Rugby Lions on 5 October 1996 (1996–97)
    • Most conversions scored in a match: 18
    Newcastle Falcons at home to Rugby Lions on 5 October 1996 (1996–97)
    • Most penalties scored in a match: 9
    Manchester at home to Wakefield on 15 December 2001 (2001–02)
    Coventry at home to Otley on 13 November 2004 (2004–05)
    • Most drop kicks scored in a match: 3
    Exeter Chiefs away to Rotherham on 10 November 2001 (2001–02)
    Exeter Chiefs away to Plymouth Albion on 8 September 2007 (2007–08)
    Cornish Pirates at home to Plymouth Albion on 12 April 2009 (2008–09)
    Worcester Warriors away to Bedford Blues on 16 October 2010 (2010–11)
    Leeds Carnegie at home to Rotherham Titans on 25 November 2011 (2011–12)

    Attendance records

    • Highest attendance: 16,048
    Bristol at home to Doncaster Knights on 25 May 2016 (2015–16)
    Bracknell at home to Exeter Chiefs on 2 March 2002 (2001–02)
    Moseley at home to Rugby Lions on 23 March 2002 (2001–02)
    • Highest average attendance (club): 11,494
    Northampton Saints (2007–08)
    • Lowest average attendance (club): 322
    Birmingham & Solihull (2000–01)[a 13]

    Player records

    Championship top point scorers

    As of the end of the games of May 25, 2016. Stats taken from 1996-97 season onwards and includes both regular league/playoff games the RFU Championship only (no cup games). Points scored includes tries, drop kicks, penalties and conversions.[17]
    Rank Nat Name Years Club(s) Points Apps Ratio
    1 James Pritchard 2001-03, 2006-16
    2004-05
    Bedford Blues
    Plymouth Albion
    2,67325110.6
    2 Tony Yapp 1997-98
    1999-02
    2002-09
    Bedford Blues
    Worcester Warriors
    Exeter Chiefs
    1,9132079.2
    3 Simon Binns 1996-98, 1999-01
    2001-07
    Rotherham
    Otley
    1,7921889.5
    4 Leigh Hinton 1998-99
    2000-02
    2002-03
    2003-04
    2004-05
    2006-07, 2008-09
    Worcester
    Moseley
    Birmingham & Solihull
    Orrell
    Bedford Blues
    Leeds Carnegie
    1,3971608.7
    5 Phil Jones 2001-03
    2005-11
    Orrell
    Sedgley Park
    1,1941976.1
    6 Oliver Thomas 2002-03, 2006–07, 2008–09, 2010-15
    2007-08
    Moseley
    Cornish Pirates
    1,0701756.1
    7 Tristan Roberts 2008-10
    2010-11
    2011-14
    2015-16
    Moseley
    Doncaster Knights
    Bristol
    Ealing Trailfinders
    1,0631278.4
    8 Gareth Steenson 2006-07
    2007-08
    2008-10
    Earth Titans
    Cornish Pirates
    Exeter Chiefs
    1,0591169.1
    9 Kieran Hallett 2004-07
    2008-11
    2011-12
    2012-
    Bedford Blues
    Plymouth Albion
    Nottingham
    Cornish Pirates
    1,0331706.0
    10 Tom Barlow 1998-99
    2002-04
    2004-06
    2006-08
    2008-09
    Fylde
    Plymouth Albion
    Cornish Pirates
    Nottingham
    Rotherham Titans
    9221426.5

    (Bold denotes players still playing in the RFU Championship.)

    Championship top try scorers

    As of the end of the games of May 25, 2016. Stats taken from 1996-97 season onwards and includes both regular league/playoff games the RFU Championship only (no cup games).[18]
    Rank Nat Name Years Club(s) Tries Apps Ratio
    1 Kurt Johnson 1998-99
    1999-10
    Orrell
    Coventry
    1082390.5
    2 Richard Baxter 1997-10Exeter Chiefs1053150.3
    3 Jon Feeley 1998-00
    2000-04
    2004-06
    2006-10
    Leeds Tykes
    Wakefield
    Sedgley Park
    Rotherham Titans
    1012220.5
    4 Nick Baxter 1997-01
    2001-06
    Worcester
    Pertemps Bees
    981900.5
    5 James Pritchard 2001-03, 2006-16
    2004-05
    Bedford Blues
    Plymouth Albion
    942510.4
    6 Wes Davies 2001-03
    2003-04
    2004-06, 2009-13
    2006-09
    Orrell
    Worcester Warriors
    Cornish Pirates
    Doncaster Knights
    892340.4
    7 Duncan Roke 1999-01
    2001-04
    2005-07
    Henley Hawks
    Worcester Warriors
    Cornish Pirates
    771460.5
    8 Richard Welding 1999-01, 2002-04
    2004-05
    2005-06
    2006-07, 2008-09
    2010-11
    Orrell
    Sedgley Park
    Cornish Pirates
    Leeds Carnegie
    Rotherham Titans
    721860.4
    9 Matt Jess 2003-06
    2007-08
    2008-10
    Cornish Pirates
    Launceston
    Exeter Chiefs
    711520.5
    10 Leigh Hinton 1998-99
    2000-02
    2002-03
    2003-04
    2004-05
    2006-07, 2008-09
    Worcester
    Moseley
    Birmingham & Solihull
    Orrell
    Bedford Blues
    Leeds Carnegie
    711600.4

    (Bold denotes players still playing in the RFU Championship.)

    Other player records

    • Most times top points scorer: 2
    Leigh Hinton for Orrell (2004-05, 2006-07)
    Gareth Steenson for Cornish Pirates (2007-08) and Exeter Chiefs (2009-10)
    • Most times top try scorer: 2
    Dean Lax for Rotherham (1998-99, 1999-00)
    • Most points in a season: 396
    Sateki Tuipulotu for Worcester (2000-01)
    • Most tries in a season: 39
    Chris Ashton for Northampton Saints (2007-08)
    • Most points in a match: 42
    Jez Harris for Coventry at home to Nottingham on 5 October 1996 (1996-97)
    • Most tries in a match: 6
    Chris Ashton for Northampton Saints at home to Launceston on 26 April 2008 (2007-08)
    • Most conversions in a match: 18
    Rob Andrew for Newcastle Falcons at home to Rugby Lions on 5 October 1996 (1996-97)
    • Most penalties in a match: 9
    Marcus Barrow for Manchester at home to Wakefield on 15 December 2001 (2001-02)
    Matthew Leek for Coventry at home to Otley on 13 November 2004 (2004-05)
    • Most drop kicks in a match: 3
    Chris Malone for Exeter Chiefs away to Rotherham on 10 November 2001 (2001-02)
    Danny Gray for Exeter Chiefs away to Plymouth Albion on 8 September 2007 (2007-08)
    Rhys Jones for Cornish Pirates at home to Plymouth Albion on 12 April 2009 (2008-09)
    Andy Goode for Exeter Chiefs away to Bristol on 26 May 2010 (2010-11)
    Joe Ford for Leeds Carnegie at home to Rotherham Titans on 25 November 2011 (2011-12)

    See also

    Notes

    1. Due to the expansion of the Courage National Leagues for the following season there was no relegation from the 1989–90 Courage League National Division Two.[11]
    2. Due to the expansion of the division from 10 to 12 teams for the following season there was no relegation from the 1995-96 Courage League National Division Two.[12]
    3. 3rd place London Scottish were also promoted.
    4. Due to the expansion of the top two divisions for the following season there was no relegation from the 1997-98 Dunbar Premiership Two.[13]
    5. Due to the RFU expanding the league from 14 to 16 teams for the following season there was no relegation from the 2005-06 National Division One.[14]
    6. Due to London Welsh going into liquidation and being expelled from the league in January 2017 there was no relegation from the 2016-17 RFU Championship.[15]
    7. Due to the expansion of the top two divisions for the following season there was no relegation from the 1997-98 Dunbar Premiership Two.[13]
    8. Due to the RFU expanding the league from 14 to 16 teams for the following season there was no relegation from the 2005-06 National Division One.[14]
    9. Due to London Welsh going into liquidation and being expelled from the league in January 2017 there was no relegation from the 2016-17 RFU Championship.[15]
    10. This figure is taken from the regular 2009–10 RFU Championship season and does not include the relegation group games. The minus figure came about because Pertemps Bees were deducted 15 points by the RFU for going into voluntary liquidation but were allowed to continue playing as they were granted a temporary licence. Without the points deduction the Bees would have got 6 points during the first stage of the season.[16]
    11. Figure is for regular season only and does not include playoffs.
    12. Note that there is very little attendance data prior to the 2000-01 season so it is possible there could have been lower attendances than the ones listed.
    13. Note that there is very little attendance data prior to the 2000-01 season so it is possible there could have been lower average club attendances than the one listed. Also, Birmingham & Solihull were missing 2 attendance figures from this season which means their average is not 100% accurate and could be slightly lower or higher with these games accounted for.
    14. Note that there is very little attendance data prior to the 2000-01 season so it is possible that previous seasons had lower average attendances.

    References

    1. "Greene King IPA to sponsor RFU Championship" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 26 June 2013. Archived from the original on 1 July 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
    2. "Championship plan gains support". BBC Sport. BBC. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
    3. Simon Mills (15 November 2008). "RFU Council approves major changes to shape of club game". Rugby Football Union. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
    4. Brian Dick (28 February 2010). "Moseley star Nathan Williams questions fairness of play–offs system". Sunday Mercury. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
    5. Brian Dick (25 February 2010). "Taxing times for clubs struggling in rugby's Championship". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
    6. RFU Championship building to gripping finale
    7. Taylor, John (18 August 2010). "What close season?". ESPNScrum. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
    8. "Championship: RFU to abolish play–off pool stages". BBC Sport. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
    9. "Play-off system removed from Greene King IPA Championship from next season" (Press release). Premiership Rugby Limited. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
    10. Straughan, Dick (5 July 2012). "Falcons relegated as Welsh win RFU promotion appleal". The Cornishman. p. 80.
    11. Tony Williams and Bill Mitchell, ed. (1990). Courage Official Rugby Union Club Directory 1990–91. Windsor: Burlington Publishing Co Ltd.
    12. Mick Cleary and John Griffiths, ed. (1996). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1996–97. London: Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7472-7771-2.
    13. "Leagues 1997/98". Moseley Rugby Club. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
    14. "RFU council approves expansion of National League One". ESPN. 17 March 2006.
    15. "London Welsh: RFU refuses permission for Exiles to stay in Championship". BBC Sport. 24 January 2017.
    16. "Birmingham & Solihull - Wednesday". rolling-maul.com. 28 October 2009.
    17. "RFU Championship All time leading top scorers". Rugby Statbunker. 26 February 2016.
    18. "RFU Championship All time try scorers". Rugby Statbunker. 26 February 2016.
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