National Conference League

National Conference League
National Conference League
NCL Logo.jpg
National Conference League competition logo
Sport Rugby league football
Instituted 1986
Chair Trevor Hunt
Number of teams 40
Country  England
Champions Siddal (2008-9)

The National Conference League is the top league in the pyramid of amateur rugby leagues run by the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA). Unlike the professional game, the majority of amateur rugby league in Great Britain is played in the winter months, and the National Conference is a 'winter' league.


Relationship between NCL and other leagues

The five regional leagues beneath the NCL are the Pennine League, the Yorkshire League, the North West Counties League, the Cumberland League and the Hull & District League. There is also a Barrow & District League, however this is nearly all reserve sides with the odd team that can not afford the travelling costs involved in competing in the North West Counties League. Teams from these regional leagues can apply for election to the National Conference League if they meet stringent minimum criteria.

Somewhat confusingly, the main amateur competition for clubs that wish to play a summer season is also titled conference: the Rugby League Conference (RLC). The NCL is seen as being the top division for 'traditional' clubs from the 'heartland' areas of rugby league, whilst the RLC consists mostly of clubs from other areas of the country, although there are a number of traditional teams now playing in the RLC.

There is no formal link from the NCL to any semi-professional league, as all professional rugby league in the UK is now played in the summer. Some NCL clubs have however chosen to "move across" to the summer structure in order to progress towards the professional ranks, one example of this being Warrington Wizards (who formerly competed in the NCL as Woolston Rovers) and Featherstone Lions (accepted by National League three). Bradford Dudley Hill have applied to switch from National League Three back to the NCL, with their application accepted in summer 2006.

Many of the players from the amateur BARLA teams go on to play for teams in Super League, the Championship or Championship 1, though this is not as common as in the past as professional sides now run their own academy sides rather than relying on recruitment from local BARLA clubs.


The league was founded as the BARLA National League for the 1986/1987 season with 10 teams: Dudley Hill, Egremont Rangers, Heworth, Leigh Miners Welfare (now Leigh Miners Rangers), Milford Marlins, Millom, Pilkington Recs, West Hull, Wigan St Patrick's and Woolston Rovers. The original NCL concept was one team per town.

The league added a second division in 1989, and expanded to three divisions (now named premier, first and second as opposed to first and second) along with a rebrand to the current name of National Conference League in 1993.

The National Conference League launched a series of Summer Divisions in 2009 but failed to repeat its summer experiment in 2010 leading three clubs: East Leeds, Milford Marlins and Shaw Cross Sharks to join the Rugby League Conference.


The National Conference League consists of three divisions of up to fourteen teams each, titled the Premier Division, Division One and Division Two. There is promotion and relegation between each division of three up and three down. The bottom two teams from Division Two face re-election, but usually they are both re-elected as enough teams resign from the league to allow new teams entry.

Premier Division
East Hull
Hull Dockers
Leigh East
Leigh Miners Rangers
Oulton Raiders
Rochdale Mayfield
Siddal RLFC
Skirlaugh RLFC
Thatto Heath Crusaders
Thornhill Trojans
West Hull
Wigan St Judes
Wigan St Patricks
York Acorn
Division One
Bradford Dudley Hill
Castleford Panthers
Eastmoor Dragons
Ince Rose Bridge
Milford Marlins
Normanton Knights
Saddleworth Rangers
Shaw Cross Sharks
Wath Brow Hornets
West Bowling
Widnes St Maries
Division Two
Askam ARLFC (*)
Castleford Lock Lane
Crosfields RLFC
East Leeds
Eccles & Salford Juniors
Egremont Rangers
Hull Isberg
Myton Warriors
Oldham St Anne's
Stanley Rangers

(*) Askam withdrew before the start of the season

Summer Divisions 2009

Summer Division West Yorks
Eastmoor Dragons
Milford Marlins
Oulton Raiders
Thornhill Trojans
Summer Division Pennine
Bradford Dudley Hill
Rochdale Mayfield
Saddleworth Rangers
Summer Division North West
Eccles & Salford Juniors
Leigh East
Thatto Heath Crusaders
Widnes St Maries

A proposed Eastern division featuring Normanton Knights, Castleford Lock Lane, West Hull and East Hull failed to materialise after Castleford Lock Lane and then East Hull pulled out and the other two teams declined the chance to join another division. Shaw Cross Sharks were initially scheduled to take part in the West Yorkshire Division but they withdrew to be replaced by Thornhill Trojans.

Past winners

National League First Division Champions

  • 1986-87 Heworth
  • 1987-88 Milford
  • 1988-89 West Hull
  • 1989-90 Dudley Hill
  • 1990-91 Leigh East
  • 1991-92 Wigan St Patricks
  • 1992-93 Saddleworth Rangers

National Conference League Premier Division Champions

  • 1993-94 Woolston Rovers
  • 1994-95 Woolston Rovers
  • 1995-96 Woolston Rovers
  • 1996-97 West Hull
  • 1997-98 Egremont Rangers
  • 1998-99 West Hull
  • 1999-00 West Hull
  • 2000-01 West Hull

National Conference League Grand Final Champions

  • 2001-02 West Hull
  • 2002-03 Siddal
  • 2003-04 Siddal
  • 2004-05 Leigh Miners Rangers
  • 2005-06 Oulton Raiders
  • 2006-07 Skirlaugh
  • 2007-08 East Hull
  • 2008-09 Siddal
  • 2009-10 Leigh East
  • 2010-11 Thatto Heath Crusaders

National Conference League First Division Champions

  • 1993-94 Heworth
  • 1994-95 Millom
  • 1995-96 Beverley
  • 1996-97 Askam
  • 1997-98 Skirlaugh
  • 1998-99 Redhill
  • 1999-00 Oulton Raiders
  • 2000-01 Leigh East
  • 2001-02 West Bowling
  • 2002-03 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2003-04 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2004-05 Shaw Cross Sharks
  • 2005-06 West Hull
  • 2006-07 Rochdale Mayfield
  • 2007-08 Wigan St. Judes
  • 2008-09 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2009-10 Thatto Heath Crusaders

National Conference League Second Division Champions

  • 1989-90 Saddleworth Rangers
  • 1990-91 Barrow Island
  • 1991-92 West Hull
  • 1992-93 Mayfield
  • 1993-94 Oldham St Annes
  • 1994-95 Eastmoor Dragons
  • 1995-96 Wigan St Judes
  • 1996-97 Redhill
  • 1997-98 Featherstone Lions
  • 1998-99 Ideal Isberg
  • 1999-00 Eastmoor Dragons
  • 2000-01 Thatto Heath Crusaders
  • 2001-02 Crosfields
  • 2002-03 Wath Brow Hornets
  • 2003-04 East Hull
  • 2004-05 Ince Rose Bridge
  • 2005-06 Castleford Panthers
  • 2006-07 Waterhead
  • 2007-08 Millom
  • 2008-09 Myton Warriors

National Conference League Challenge Cup

1987-88 Leigh Miners Rangers 15-0 Milford
1988-89 Egremont Rangers 2-0 Wigan St Patricks
1989-90 Wigan St Patricks 11-6 Askam
1990-91 Millom 14-13 Dudley Hill
1991-92 Wigan St Patricks 14-12 Saddleworth Rangers
1992-93 Saddleworth Rangers 25-10 Askam
1993-94 Heworth 22-4 Blackbrook

See also

External links

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