- All 12 captains and Andy Robinson in attendance as Rob Andrew launches season
- Sky Sports to show 18 Championship games across the season
Photo: RFU Archive
The Greene King IPA Championship season launch took place today at St Margarets Pub & Dining.
The Greene King pub played host to all twelve captains from the second tier of English professional rugby, as well as former England and Scotland head coach Andy Robinson – now in charge at Bristol Rugby.
With a title sponsor in Greene King IPA, the Championship is set to begin its most exciting season to date. Continuing to lead the way in innovation having debuted Ref Cam, half-time interviews and changing room access in the second tier, the Championship and Sky Sports now extend their partnership to include 18 games this season.
Speaking at the launch today, RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew said:
"Only five years ago, we were launching the first season of the Championship at Twickenham and signalling a new second tier of professional rugby. Now we are approaching the fifth season of the competition and under a new sponsor in Greene King IPA.
"The Championship continues to produce exciting young talent, and we have seen a number of those players go onto the international stage, with the 2013 British & Irish Lions and England U20s Junior World Championship squads both claiming Championship players.
"It is clear to see the positive impact the second tier of professional rugby has on the game in this country."
The fifth season of the Championship will kick off with the Greene King IPA 1 Big Rugby Weekend, a triple bill of double-headers taking place across three neutral venues on September 14 and 15.
Designed to start the new season with a festival of Championship rugby, the 1 Big Rugby Weekend begin at Allianz Park, where newcomers Ealing Trailfinders take on London Scottish before 2012 champions London Welsh mark their return to the competition against last season's runner-up Bedford Blues.
On the same day at Castle Park, the ground of former Championship club Doncaster Knights, Moseley will do battle with Rotherham Titans prior to an enticing meeting between last year's losing semi-finalists Nottingham Rugby and Leeds Carnegie.
In the final double header the next day, the West Country clubs come out in force at Sandy Park, home of inaugural Championship winners Exeter Chiefs.
Under new head coach James Shanahan, Plymouth Albion will take to the field against Jersey in the first fixture of the afternoon, before Robinson's Bristol face Cornish Pirates. Both fixtures are live on Sky Sports HD.
Tickets for the Greene King IPA 1 Big Rugby Weekend can be purchased through all twelve Championship clubs. For more information, visit http://www.rfu.com/championshiprugby