English rugby union system

The 12-team Guinness Premiership is the top level of competition, it is fully professional but has a salary cap in place.

National Division One and National Division Two are the next rungs down. National Division One has some fully professional sides but most are semi-professional. Below this there are many regional leagues.

Guinness Premiership

There is a system of promotion and relegation in the Guinness Premiership. The Guinness Premiership comprises the top level of the English rugby union leagues. There is automatically promotion and relegation between the Guinness Premiership and National Division One. The last placed club after the 22 regular season rounds of the Premiership is relegated, while the winner of the National Division One champion is promoted to the Premiership for the subsequent season. However, promotion and relegation is subject to the Minimum Standards Criteria.

Debate rages over whether promotion and relegation should exist. Benefactors of Premiership clubs are reluctant, in some cases, to add further investment with the fear of relegation looming. Some believe removing that uncertainty would enable more investment, allowing the sport to grow. However, moves made by the Guinness Premiership clubs to ring-fence the division have been made by imposing very stringent ground requirements on National Division One clubs that win the right to promotion, some of which are not adhered to by current members of the Guinness Premiership.

National Leagues

National Two is made up of fourteen teams from around England. Promotion and relegation decide the makeup of the league each season, with the two highest placed teams moving into National Division One, and the bottom three teams being relegated into either National Division Three North or National Division Three South.

See also