- English rugby union system
Guinness Premiershipis the top level of the English rugby union system; it is fully professional but has a salary cap in place. National Division Oneand National Division Twoare the next rungs down. National Division One has some fully professional sides but most are semi-professional. Below this are National Three North and National Three South and numerous regional leagues.
There is a system of promotion and relegation in the
Guinness Premiership. The Guinness Premiership comprises the top level of the English rugby union leagues. There is automatically promotion and relegation between the Guinness Premiership and National Division One. The last placed club after the 22 regular season rounds of the Premiership is relegated, while the winner of the National Division Onechampion is promoted to the Premiership for the subsequent season. However, promotion and relegation is subject to the Minimum Standards Criteria.
Debate rages over whether promotion and relegation should exist. Benefactors of Premiership clubs are reluctant, in some cases, to add further investment with the fear of relegation looming. Some believe removing that uncertainty would enable more investment, allowing the sport to grow. However, moves made by the Guinness Premiership clubs to ring-fence the division have been made by imposing very stringent ground requirements on National Division One clubs that win the right to promotion, some of which are not adhered to by current members of the Guinness Premiership.
The winner of the
National Division Onechampion is promoted to the Premiership for the subsequent season. However, promotion and relegation is subject to the Minimum Standards Criteria.
National Two is made up of fourteen teams from around
England. Promotion and relegation decide the makeup of the league each season, with the two highest placed teams moving into National Division One, and the bottom three teams being relegated into either National Division Three Northor National Division Three South.
National Three North and National Three South is made up of teams from around Northern and Southern England respectively. The top team from each division is automatically promoted into National Division Two, the runner-up plays in a one-off play-off with the runner-up from the other National Three division for promotion.
The bottom three teams from National Three South are relegated into either
London Division Oneor South West Division One. Relegation from National Three North is to either the Midlands Oneor North Oneleagues depending on where the team are based.
The table below shows the current structure of the system. For each division, its official name, sponsorship name (which differs from its historic name) and number of clubs is given. At levels 1-3, each division promotes to the national division(s) that lie directly above it and relegates to the national division(s) that lie directly below it. Below that level, clubs relegate to the nearest local league.
Rugby union in England
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