Championship: RFU confirms 11-team competition for March 6 kick-off
The 2020/21 Championship season will get underway on March 6 as an 11-team competition and two-legged final to decide the title; London Scottish will sit out the season but return for the 2021/22 campaign; Relegated Saracens begin with a trip to Cornish Pirates
Last Updated: 08/02/21 5:09pm
An 11-team Greene King IPA Championship will kick off on March 6 with a two-legged play-off final to decide the title in June, the RFU has confirmed.
London Scottish's decision to sit out the season means one team each round will have a bye week, with every other team playing 10 matches and the top two going into the final.
The winners of the two-legged final will then be promoted to the Gallagher Premiership providing they meet the minimum standards criteria.
However, whether the side which finishes bottom of the Premiership at the end of the 2020/21 season will be relegated remains to be seen after a vote on the matter was postponed last Friday.
There will be no relegation from the Championship to the National Leagues though, with all rugby below the second tier currently suspended, meaning London Scottish will return for the 2021/22 campaign.
"Following loan assurances from Government as part of the Winter Sports Survival Package, 11 Greene King IPA Championship Clubs have elected to invest in Covid testing under the elite sport guidance framework to allow a start to the season on the weekend of 6 March 2021," an RFU statement said.
Important 1st XV Update!— London Scottish Rugby (@LSFCOfficial) February 2, 2021
London Scottish decline DCMS loans to play 1st XV
London Scottish confirms today that the Club will not be taking 10 year government loans through the Sports Winter Survival Package
For further details please see https://t.co/HqoNlqPivL
"Operating under the elite sport framework, teams will play each other home or away producing 10 competitive matches over 11 league rounds.
"This will be followed by a two-leg play-off final (home and away) between the top two placed teams in the league to determine which will earn promotion to Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the 2021/22 season provided it meets the current minimum standards criteria."
The first weekend of the new Championship season sees relegated Saracens travel to Cornish Pirates, with their first home game against Jersey Reds the following Saturday.
After little bit of a wait...— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 8, 2021
We will kick-off the 2020/21 Championship season on the road at @CornishPirates1 before hosting @jerseyrfc at @StoneX_Official Stadium!
Full details of the league structure 👉 https://t.co/xEW6UBCPIi#StrongerTogether ⚫🔴 pic.twitter.com/2aEQ6jfpQa
There will be reserve weekends for any postponed fixtures on April 3, May 8 and June 5, with the play-off final taking place on June 12 and 19.
Championship 2020/21 fixtures
March 6: Nottingham vs Ealing Trailfinders, Ampthill vs Doncaster Knights, Coventry vs Bedford Blues, Hartpury University vs Richmond, Cornish Pirates vs Saracens, Jersey Reds BYE.
March 13: Ealing Trailfinders vs Ampthill, Doncaster Knights vs Coventry, Bedford Blues vs Hartpury University, Richmond vs Cornish Pirates, Saracens vs Jersey Reds, Nottingham BYE.
March 20: Coventry vs Ealing Trailfinders, Ampthill vs Nottingham, Hartpury University vs Doncaster Knights, Cornish Pirates vs Bedford Blues, Jersey Reds vs Richmond, Saracens BYE.
March 27: Ealing Trailfinders vs Hartpury University, Nottingham vs Coventry, Doncaster Knights vs Cornish Pirates, Bedford Blues vs Jersey Reds, Richmond vs Saracens, Ampthill BYE.
April 10: Cornish Pirates vs Ealing Trailfinders, Coventry vs Ampthill, Hartpury University vs Nottingham, Jersey Reds vs Doncaster Knights, Saracens vs Bedford Blues, Richmond BYE.
April 17: Ealing Trailfinders vs Jersey Reds, Ampthill vs Hartpury University, Nottingham vs Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights vs Saracens, Bedford Blues vs Richmond, Coventry BYE.
April 24: Saracens vs Ealing Trailfinders, Hartpury University vs Coventry, Cornish Pirates vs Ampthill, Jersey Reds vs Nottingham, Richmond vs Doncaster Knights, Bedford Blues BYE.
May 1: Ealing Trailfinders vs Richmond, Coventry vs Cornish Pirates, Ampthill vs Jersey Reds, Nottingham vs Saracens, Doncaster Knights vs Bedford Blues, Hartpury University BYE.
May 15: Bedford Blues vs Ealing Trailfinders, Cornish Pirates vs Hartpury University, Jersey Reds vs Coventry, Saracens vs Ampthill, Richmond vs Nottingham, Doncaster Knights BYE.
May 22: Ealing Trailfinders vs Doncaster Knights, Hartpury University vs Jersey Reds, Coventry vs Saracens, Ampthill vs Richmond, Nottingham vs Bedford Blues, Cornish Pirates BYE.
May 29: Jersey Reds vs Cornish Pirates, Saracens vs Hartpury University, Richmond vs Coventry, Bedford Blues vs Ampthill, Doncaster Knights vs Nottingham, Ealing Trailfinders BYE.
June 12: Play-off final, first leg.
June 19: Play-off final, second leg.