National League 1, (which was known before September 2009 as National Division Two), is the third level of domestic rugby union competition in England. It was known as Courage League National Division Three when founded in 1987. This is the lowest level of the English rugby union league system which is nationwide. The league consists of sixteen teams with all the teams playing each other on a home and away basis to make a total of thirty matches each. There is one promotion place and three relegation places. The champions are promoted to the Greene King IPA Championship and the bottom three teams are relegated to either National League 2 North or National League 2 South (formerly National Division Three North and South) depending on the geographical location of the team.
Twelve of the sixteen teams participated in the preceding season’s competition. The 2016–17 champions, Hartpury College, were promoted to the 2017–18 RFU Championship, replacing London Welsh who went into liquidation in the second half of the season and would cease to exist in their present format. Due to London Welsh’s liquidation only two teams (instead of three) were relegated last season – Macclesfield and Blaydon – both of whom drop to the 2017–18 National League 2 North.
The promoted teams are Caldy and Bishop’s Stortford, champions of the 2016–17 National League 2 South and 2016–17 National League 2 Northrespectively, and Old Elthamians who won the promotion play-off against Sale FC. National League 1 is the highest level all three of these sides have ever reached.
For this seasons fixture list click here.