11:48am Thursday 16th February 2012
Cougars will not face another relegation battle in the Co-operative Championship this season, regardless of their final league position.
A planned increase in the number of teams in the league for the 2013 season means there will be no relegation from their division this year.
Having put together an impressive squad for the new season, Cougars are already confident of avoiding a repeat of their 2010 campaign, which saw them drop out of the top flight.
But the changes mean all Championship teams are set to remain in the division before the action has even started.
Following last year’s strategic review into the Co-operative Championships, all ten Championship One clubs voted in favour of having the top four promoted at the end of the regular 2012 season.
That will see the top four teams being promoted into the Championship to form an expanded 14-team division in 2013, meaning there will be no relegation from the upper tier this campaign.
Four new clubs will enter Champion-ship One in 2013, with Northampton announced as one of the four last month and the other three teams to be confirmed once the due diligence checks are completed.
Cougars player-coach Jason Demetriou, who guided his team to promotion from Championship One last season, believes a 14-team Championship can work.
He said: “I think a 14-team Champion-ship is sustainable with the right support from the RFL and the Super League clubs.
“At the moment we have the option of taking players on dual registration to come and play for us on a semi-professional basis.
“They’re able to test themselves against men in the Championship and it can aid the development of young players wishing to forge a career for themselves in Super League.
“There are some Super League clubs who look at dual registration deals as a way of making money.
“But first and foremost it should be a way of giving those players first-team rugby league.
“The progression for young Super League players should be to play under-20s, then in the Championship and then in Super League if they are good enough.
“When that happens, it’s a win-win situation for both clubs.
“No relegation this season means clubs can get their infrastructure in place for next season. We’re no different.”
To determine the champions of the lower tier this season, there will be a top six play-off at the end of the campaign, with the winners of the Grand Final landing the crown.
“It is an exciting time for Rugby League at Co-operative Championships level and the whole sport is looking forward to the new season ahead,” said RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer.
“With the positive structural changes to the season from 2013, every club will be working extremely hard to play their part in the most significant change to rugby league since the switch to summer in 1996.
“Championship One is expected to be very competitive, with every team in the division in with a chance of promotion.”
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