RFL confirm Championship and League One structure for 2024, including expanded 1895 Cup format

Drew Darbyshire
Halifax Panthers lifting the 1895 Cup at Wembley in 2023 - Alamy

Halifax Panthers lift the 1895 Cup at Wembley in 2023

The Rugby Football League has confirmed the structure of the Championship and League One competitions for 2024, including a revamped format for the 1895 Cup.

The Championship will continue as a 14-team competition next season, with the top six teams qualifying for a play-off series, resulting in a Grand Final to determine the champions.

The Grand Final will be played at the home ground of the team ranked highest during the regular campaign.

League One, meanwhile, will be a nine-team competition. Each side will play 20 matches – 10 at home and 10 away, involving four loop fixtures for each team, which will be determined by seedings based on 2023 finishing positions.

The RFL say a contingency model has also been devised for an eight-team competition, which would see each team play the other three times in a 21-round programme.

The League One Grand Final will be played on October 6 at the home ground of the highest ranked team from the regular season.

The RFL board have invited clubs in the Championship and League One to join a forum to consider the best structure below Super League for 2025 and beyond, with the intention being to announce decisions before the start of the 2024 league competitions to provide clarity around promotion and relegation between divisions.

A new format for the 1895 Cup

1895 Cup Alamy The 1895 Cup – Alamy

A new structure has been devised for the 1895 Cup in response to representations from League One clubs that they would benefit from being able to offer more fixtures to their supporters.

The 1895 Cup was introduced in 2019 to provide a second and more realistic chance for clubs outside of Super League to reach the Challenge Cup finals day at Wembley.

In 2024, the 13 England-based Championship clubs will join eight League One clubs – Cornwall opting not to take part – in seven groups of three.

Groups will be seeded and regionalised, with League One clubs awarded home advantage in any fixtures against Championship opposition.

The top team in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, joined by the best-performing second-placed team, which will be determined by competition points initially and then – if necessary – by points difference.

The RFL say further details will be provided when the full fixture list for the Championship, League One and 1895 Cup are published on Sunday, December 3.

Key dates in 2024 for the 1895 Cup

The first round of group fixtures in the 1895 Cup will be played on the weekend of January 27-28.

The remaining two rounds of group fixtures will then be played in February, alternating with the early rounds of the Challenge Cup.

Quarter-finals will be played on March 3, semi-finals on May 12 and the final at Wembley on Saturday, June 8.

Halifax Panthers became the fourth different winners of the 1895 Cup from as many finals when they beat Batley Bulldogs 12-10 at Wembley in August, joining Leigh Leopards, Featherstone Rovers and Sheffield Eagles on the winners list.

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