National Leagues Go Live

The deal will allow for the increasing standard of play in the lower leagues to reach a far greater television audience than previously, with recently relegated Castleford, Widnes and Leigh, along with the likes of Whitehaven and Doncaster, ready to battle for a place in the engage Super League.

It will also help the National Leagues to find a new title sponsor after LHF Healthplan’s sponsorship of the competition coming to an end at the close of the 2006 season.

The deal will mean that the biggest clubs in National League One face having their games switched to Thursday nights to avoid clashes with Sky Sports’ Super League coverage.

RFL media manager Andrew Whitelam said: "We have always been seeking to maximise broadcast coverage for the exciting rugby league produced by the National League competitions and are continuing to do so."

At present the lower leagues don’t receive any regular television coverage, with the exception of Greater Manchester-based sides, who are covered on Channel M’s highlights package ‘Code Thirteen’.

Besides that the only National League games shown are the Northern Rail Cup final and the National League Grand Finals live on Sky Sports, with highlights from the play-off series shown on the BBC’s ‘Rugby League Raw’.

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