Hemel Stags withdraw from League 1

Drew Darbyshire

Hemel Stags have withdrawn from League 1 for the 2019 season, with a view to returning in 2020.

The Stags have agreed with the Rugby Football League to pull out of the third tier.

After a challenging 2018 campaign, the Stags have requested to concentrate on developing their community programme, with a special emphasis on open age players.

Hemel were founded in 1981 as an amateur club, and had played in a number of different competitions before joining the semi-professional ranks in 2013.

The club have already submitted an expression of interest in joining the tier four Southern Conference competition that will be launched in the spring of 2019 – one of 14 clubs who have expressed an interest.

Stags’ founder and chairman Bob Brown said: “Following discussions between the RFL and Hemel Stags, it has been agreed by both parties that the club will not take part in the 2019 League 1 season.

“A return to League 1 is planned for 2020. In 2019, Hemel Stags will concentrate on developing its community programme with a special emphasis on post 16 years community rugby league.

“In September, the Stags had 21 players selected in London Origin representative teams at Under-14, Under-15 and Under-17 levels.

“The club is proud of its record of developing southern rugby league talent over the last decade and more, and this move will assist the club in being able to build on this progress, and position itself to continue cultivating talent for years to come.”

At this stage, there are no plans for them to be replaced in League 1 next season, meaning the fixture list is being drawn up for an 11-team competition.