Eighteen new clubs have been admitted to the TotalRL.com Rugby League Conference,
which will begin its seventh season later this year.
This expansion means that two new divisions have been added to the nationwide
grassroots Rugby League competition and, in all, a total of 68 teams based throughout
Britain will do battle for the Harry Jepson Trophy - currently held by Bridgend
The competition, which kicks off on Saturday 1st May, will now include representatives
from Yorkshire and Cumbria whilst in an exciting format change all Welsh teams
- with Cardiff Demons moving divisions to bolster their ranks - will initially
play through to their own Grand Final. The winners of this will then enter the
Quarter Finals of the Harry Jepson Trophy.
The double header TotalRL.com Conference Grand Final day will take place on
the weekend of the 5th/6th September at a venue to be announced.
The Rugby League Conference (RLC) was formed in 1998 with 14 clubs and the
competition enjoyed something of a landmark seen last year when former Oxford
Cavaliers forward Darrell Griffin became the first player from the RLC to play
in the Tetley’s Rugby Super League after landing a contract with Wakefield
Commenting on the new structure, National Development Manager Niel Wood said,
“This expansion of the TotalRL.com Rugby League Conference demonstrates
we are continuing to provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in
Rugby League via a strong, multi-layered club wherever they happen to live in
“The growth of the RLC has been organic, whereas in the past we have
sought to recruit or set up teams in particular areas, now they are coming to
us in abundance including in what might be termed ‘traditional’
locations. However, wherever they come from all entrants accepted are totally
committed to the principle of development in their area.”
Wood added: “Via the TotalRL.com Rugby League Conference, 2004 will see
more geographical expansion for the sport. However our increase in numbers means
we can also begin the preparations for the next big steps in the competition’s
evolution which includes tiering by playing standard and extending the length
of the season for those who want it.”
(NEW CLUBS IN BOLD) *Denotes name change
Cumbria Division - WEST CUMBRIA, COPELAND
ATHLETIC, BARROW SHIPBUILDERS, PENRITH PANTHERS,
Carlisle Centurions ‘A’.
North East Division - Gateshead Storm, Newcastle Knights,
Whitley Bay Barbarians, Sunderland City, Durham Tigers, Yorkshire Coast Tigers,
PETERLEE PUMAS, JARROW VIKINGS.
Yorkshire Division - Bridlington Bulls, Leeds Akademiks, SOUTH
WAKEFIELD SHARKS, HULL PHOENIX, WETHERBY BULLDOGS,
SHEFFIELD HILLSBOROUGH HAWKS ‘A’, HUDDERSFIELD
UNDERBANK RANGERS ‘A’, BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL ‘A’.
North Midlands Division - Derby City, Nottingham Outlaws,
Mansfield Storm, Worksop Sharks, THORNE MOOR MARAUDERS, Rotherham
East Division - Ipswich Rhinos, South Norfolk Saints, Cambridge
Eagles, St Ives Roosters, North London Skolars, MIDDLESEX LIONS,
Hemel Stags ‘A’, Luton Vipers.
South Division - Gosport & Fareham Vikings, Greenwich
Admirals, Crawley Jets, West London Sharks, South London Storm ‘A’,
North West Division - Lancaster, Blackpool sea Eagles, Liverpool
Buccaneers, Bolton Le Moors, Chester Wolves, NORTH WALES COASTERS,
WIDNES SAINTS, Crewe Wolves.
Wales Division - *Swansea Valley Miners, Aberavon Fighting
Irish, Bridgend Blue Bulls, *RCM Cougars (Rhonda/Cynon/Merthyr), Cardiff Demons,
NEWPORT TITANS, Torfaen Tigers.
South West Division - Somerset Vikings, Bristol Sonics, Gloucestershire
Warriors, Worcester Saints, Oxford Cavaliers, Telford Raiders.
Midlands Division - Leicester Phoenix, RUGBY RAIDERS,
Wolverhampton Wizards, Birmingham Bulldogs ‘A’, Coventry Bears ‘A’,
TBA (Selection will be made from one of two applicants in early February).
The winners of the divisions with eight clubs, plus Cumbria and Wales will
qualify for the quarter finals whilst those in six team leagues will face preliminary
play-offs. The RLC Shield will run alongside the Harry Jepson Trophy.
Twenty of the clubs have registered to play in the RLC Cup, currently held
by North London Skolars, which will begin on February 29th with Quarter Finals
on April 11th, Semi Finals on April 18th and the Final on Sunday April 25th
at a venue to be arranged.
RUGBY LEAGUE CONFERENCE ROLL OF HONOUR
Harry Jepson Trophy
1998 - Crawley Jets 40 South Norfolk Saints 12 (Cheltenham)
1999 - Chester Wolves 26 Crawley Jets 24 (Tottenham)
2000 - Crawley Jets 38 Rotherham Giants 22 (Coventry)
2001 - Teesside Steelers 12 Coventry Bears 10 (Rugby)
2002 - Coventry Bears 31 Hemel Stags 18 (Cheltenham)
2003 - Bridgend Blue Bulls 33 Carlisle Centurions 26 (Warrington)
2002 - South London Storm 54 Bedford Swifts 2 (Cheltenham)
2003 - Bolton Le Moors 28 Torfaen Tigers 21 (Warrington)