Championship Cup
Northern Rail Cup logo
SportRugby league
Replaced by1895 Cup
Number of teams26
Country England (RFL)
Holders Leigh Centurions
Most titles Leigh Centurions (4 titles)
Broadcast partnerPremier Sports

The Championship Cup, (known as the Northern Rail Cup for sponsorship reasons), and previously known as the National League Cup, was a rugby league football competition for clubs in the United Kingdom's Rugby League Championships. Although the French club Toulouse Olympique competed in the Championship from 2009 through 2011, they never participated in the cup until 2012 after they had left the Championship. The Cup's last season was 2013, after which it was replaced by the 1895 Cup.


The Trans-Pennine Cup was a short-lived competition for professional British rugby league clubs outside Super League. It was played for during the period in which all non-Super League professional clubs were grouped into a single competition, the Northern Ford Premiership.

As part of the redevelopment of the Northern Ford Premiership competition; the National League cup was first held in 2002. It was known as the Buddies Cup, after its sponsor, a soft drinks manufacturer. Eighteen teams took part divided into three groups of six (East, West and Central).

The Northern Ford Premiership was replaced by National Leagues One and Two in 2003. The competition was known as the Arriva Trains Cup after sponsor Arriva Trains Northern). The twenty National League teams were divided into four groups (North, East, West and Central) of five teams each, while in 2004 there were five groups (North, East, West, Pennine, Yorkshire) of four teams each.

Northern Rail became the competition's sponsor in 2005 and the name Northern Rail Cup was adopted. Four teams from the then National League Three also entered the competition. There were no cross-group games in the 2005 competition; each team therefore played only six games in the group stages, with the top team from each of the first five groups progressing to the quarter-final directly. The second-placed team in each of these groups, plus the top team from group six (the group of teams from National League 3) played an additional round to determine the remaining three spots in the quarter-finals.

For 2006 there were seven groups. Groups one to six comprised the 22 teams in National Leagues One and Two and the two southern National League Three teams, Hemel Stags and St Albans Centurions. There were four teams in each regional division. The top two teams from groups one to six and the best three third-placed teams qualified for the last sixteen knock out stage along with the winner of group seven. Group seven comprised northern National League Three teams that choose to enter, and included three teams: Bramley Buffaloes, Warrington Wizards and Dewsbury Celtic.

In 2007 the competition adopted a new points system: Win – three points; Draw – two points; Loss by 12 points or fewer – one point.[1]

In 2009, the Northern Rail Nines tournament was started. Teams not involved in the Northern Rail Cup Final entered a rugby league nines event with the trophy and plate final played as curtain raisers to the Northern Rail Cup Final at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool.


City Stadium Years
1 England Featherstone Post Office Road 2002
2 England Rochdale Spotland Stadium 2003–2004
3 England Blackpool Bloomfield Road 2005–2012
4 England Halifax The Shay 2013


Year Winner Score Runner Up Attendance
2002 Huddersfield Giants 32–6 Hull Kingston Rovers 4,352
2003 Salford City Reds 36–19 Leigh Centurions 6,486
2004 Leigh Centurions 42–14 Hull Kingston Rovers 4,383
2005 Hull Kingston Rovers 18–16 Castleford Tigers 9,400
2006 Leigh Centurions 22–18 Hull Kingston Rovers 7,547
2007 Widnes Vikings 54–6 Whitehaven 8,326
2008 Salford City Reds 60–0 Doncaster 6,328
2009 Widnes Vikings 34–18 Barrow Raiders 8,720
2010 Batley Bulldogs 25–24 Widnes Vikings 8,138
2011 Leigh Centurions 20–16 Halifax 8,822[2]
2012 Halifax 21–12 Featherstone Rovers 6,691
2013 Leigh Centurions 43–28 Sheffield Eagles 4,179


Club Winners Runners-up Winning years
Leigh Centurions
2004, 2006, 2011, 2013
Widnes Vikings
2007, 2009
Salford City Reds
2003, 2008
Hull Kingston Rovers
Huddersfield Giants
Batley Bulldogs

Championship Bowl

Year Winner Score Runner Up
2013 North Wales Crusaders 42–24 London Skolars


Years Sponsor Name
2002 Buddies Buddies Cup
2003–2004 Arriva Trains Northern Arriva Trains Cup
2005–2013 Northern Rail Northern Rail Cup


Below is a list of National League Cup records.[3]

Most tries

Most goals

Most goals in a final

Most points

Highest score

Highest away score

Closest score

Most Final appearances (Club)

Most Competition Wins (Club)

Broadcasting rights

Sky Sports broadcast a limited number of Championship Cup matches.[6] In 2012 the rights passed to Premier Sports.[7] Setanta Sports Australia broadcast live Northern Rail Cup matches in Australia.

See also


  1. ^ RFL introduces new points system. BBC Sport. 10 January 2007
  2. ^ "RFL Match Report: Halifax 16 – 20 Leigh". The RFL. 17 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Northern Rail - Northern Rail Cup Fascinating Facts". Archived from the original on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "Records Tumble for Ton-Up 'Dogs". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Bulldogs Clinch NRC in Tense Finale!". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  6. ^ Sky's the limit for the Knights The Press (York) 15 January 2008
  7. ^ Premier Sports to broadcast Championship matches Sport on the Box 18 October 2011