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The Championship Cup, (known as the Northern Rail Cup due to sponsorship by Northern Rail), 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.

Championship Cup
Current season or competition:
2013 National League Cup
Northern Rail Cup logo
SportRugby league
Replaced by1895 Cup
Number of teams26
Country England (RFL)
HoldersLeigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions (4th title)
Most titlesLeigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions (4 titles)



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 sponsors, 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 sponsors 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 competitions sponsors 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   Featherstone Post Office Road 2002
2   Rochdale Spotland Stadium 2003-2004
3   Blackpool Bloomfield Road 2005-2012
4   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 42–14   Hull Kingston Rovers 4,383
2005   Hull Kingston Rovers 18–16   Castleford Tigers 9,400
2006   Leigh 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[1]
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 BowlEdit

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 (Serco-Abellio)Northern Rail Northern Rail Cup


Below is a list of National League Cup records.[2]

Most tries

  • 5 Paul Salmon (Barrow Raiders) v Workington Town 2002
  • 5 Neil Turley (Leigh Centurions) v Swinton 2003
  • 5 Neil Turley (Leigh Centurions) at Chorley Lynx 2004
  • 5 Jon Steel (Hull K.R.) at London Skolars 2005
  • 5 Byron Ford (Hull K.R.) v York City Knights 2006

Most goals

  • Gareth Moore (Batley Bulldogs RLFC) V Gateshead Thunder 2010[3]

Most goals in a final

  • 10 John Wilshere (Salford City Reds) v Doncaster 2008 equaling the all-time record for goals kicked in any final

Most points

  • 42 (5 tries, 11 goals) Neil Turley (Leigh Centurions) at Chorley Lynx 2004

Highest score

  • Gateshead Thunder 4 v 100 Batley Bulldogs RLFC – 2010[3]

Highest away score

  • Gateshead Thunder 4 v 100 Batley Bulldogs RLFC – 2010[3]

Closest score

  • Batley Bulldogs 25 v Widnes Vikings 24 – 2010[4]

Most Final appearances (Club)

  • Leigh Centurions have contested 5 Championship Cup Finals.

Most Competition Wins (Club)

  • Leigh Centurions have won 4 Championship Cup Finals, from 5 Final appearances.

Broadcasting rightsEdit

Setanta Sports Australia broadcasts live Northern Rail Cup matches in Australia.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "RFL Match Report: Halifax 16 – 20 Leigh". The RFL. 17 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)