Hemel Stags set for League 1 shake-up in 2016

Match action from Hemel Stags' defeat to Oldham. Picture (c) Kevin Read
Match action from Hemel Stags' defeat to Oldham. Picture (c) Kevin Read

There are exciting times ahead for Hemel Stags as it has been announced that Kingstone Press League 1 will have a bold new look in 2016 with the introduction of a Super 8s-style format.

And a competition which already features teams from Oxford, London, Gloucester, Hemel, Wales, Coventry and Gateshead, as well as Yorkshire and the North West, could have a cross-Channel flavour with the proposed introduction of Toulouse Olympique.

Toulouse, who competed in the Championship between 2008 and 2011, have been offered a place in League 1 for 2016 and discussions for their return to UK competition are close to completion.

Should Toulouse agree to the conditions of their entry, League 1 will become a 15-team competition that will provide eight clubs with a minimum 22-match season and seven clubs with a minimum 21 matches.

The season will see the competition follow a similar format to the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship, involving the 15 clubs splitting into two pools at the end of the regular season.

The clubs will play each other once over 15 weeks before dividing into a League 1 Super 8 and a seven-team League 1 Shield.

Should Toulouse not enter League 1 in 2016 an alternative format will be introduced, details of which are currently under consideration with the clubs.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood believes the new structure is a natural evolution of the format that is currently generating considerable excitement and uncertainty of outcome in Super League and the Championship.

“The new structure brings an exciting edge to Kingstone Press League 1 that will see every minute matter for every club, just as we are seeing in Super League and the Championship this summer,” said Wood.

“I would like to thank the clubs for their positive contribution to the consultation process that has led to them embracing the new structure and giving it their unanimous support.

“We are thrilled by the prospect of the return of Toulouse Olympique to a competition which has already blazing trails across the UK. I am sure they will receive a warm welcome from all the League 1 clubs.”

The RFL remains in dialogue with a Canadian consortium which is looking to enter a Toronto-based team into Kingstone Press League 1 from 2017.