Preparations for the new season in the Greene King IPA Championship are now well underway with the 2016-17 fixtures released today. Following 22 rounds of competitive rugby the league winner will be decided by a play-off format which continues for the eighth year.

London Irish feature in the competition having dropped out of rugby's top flight for the first time since 1994. Brendan Venter returns to the club to take up the new position of technical director. 

Irish kick-off their first ever Greene King IPA Championship campaign at home to 2015-16 runners up Doncaster Knights, who will be looking to pick up where they left off last season having beaten winners Bristol 34-32 at Ashton Gate in the second leg of the final. 

Birmingham Moseley were relegated into the 2016-17 National League 1 after finishing bottom of the table. They are replaced by Richmond who return to the game’s professional ranks for the first time since 1999. The Athletic Ground outfit face mid-tablers Jersey Reds at home in their first Greene King IPA Championship match.

Last year’s losing semi-finalists Yorkshire Carnegie take on Ealing Trailfinders at Trailfinders Sports Ground. Elsewhere, Bedford open at home to Cornish Pirates. This same encounter last year saw fifteen tries scored as the Blues won 54-46 and fans will be hoping for another thriller.

London Welsh travel to Clifton Lane for their season opener against Rotherham Titans. After finishing just outside the play offs at the last attempt, the Exiles will be hoping to go one better this time out.

Elsewhere, London Scottish will be hoping to reach beyond mid-table and achieve the same heights as in 2014-15 when they made the top four for the first time. The Richmond-based side face Nottingham at Lady Bay Sports Ground. The green and whites under new Head Coach Ian Costello will be hoping to build on previous performances and push towards the top of the table with a number of new players coming into the squad.
Commenting on the 2016-17 season, Chairman of the Championship Clubs Geoff Irvine said: “Last season gave us another exciting finale to the Greene King IPA Championship and we’re eager to see what 2016-17 holds. Since the league started back in 2009 we’ve seen some quality rugby year on year and we expect this season to be no exception. There is no doubting now the value of the Championship and the part it plays in developing young English Qualified Players.”

2016-17 Greene King IPA Championship fixtures

Round 1 – 2/3/4 September
Rotherham Titans    v    London Welsh
Nottingham Rugby    v    London Scottish
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Bedford Blues        v    Cornish Pirates
Richmond        v    Jersey Reds
London Irish        v    Doncaster Knights

Round 2 – 9/10/11 September
London Scottish    v    London Welsh
London Irish        v    Richmond
Jersey Reds        v    Bedford Blues
Cornish Pirates    v    Ealing Trailfinders
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Nottingham Rugby
Doncaster Knights    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 3 – 16/17/18 September
Rotherham Titans    v    London Scottish
London Welsh        v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Nottingham Rugby    v    Cornish Pirates
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Jersey Reds
Bedford Blues        v    London Irish
Richmond        v    Doncaster Knights

Round 4 – 23/24/25 September
Cornish Pirates    v    London Welsh
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    London Scottish
Doncaster Knights    v    Bedford Blues
London Irish        v    Ealing Trailfinders
Jersey Reds        v    Nottingham Rugby
Richmond        v    Rotherham Titans

Round 5 – 30 Sept/1/2 October
Rotherham Titans    v    Yorkshire Carnegie
London Scottish    v    Cornish Pirates
London Welsh        v    Jersey Reds
Nottingham Rugby    v    London Irish
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Doncaster Knights
Bedford Blues        v    Richmond

Round 6 – 7/8/9 October
London Irish        v    London Welsh
Jersey Reds        v    London Scottish
Cornish Pirates    v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Richmond        v    Ealing Trailfinders
Doncaster Knights    v    Nottingham Rugby
Bedford Blues        v    Rotherham Titans

Round 7 – 28/29/30 October
Rotherham Titans    v    Cornish Pirates
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Jersey Reds
London Scottish    v    London Irish
London Welsh        v    Doncaster Knights
Nottingham Rugby    v    Richmond
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Bedford Blues

Round 8 – 4/5/6 November
Richmond        v    London Welsh
Doncaster Knights    v    London Scottish
London Irish        v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Jersey Reds        v    Cornish Pirates
Bedford Blues        v    Nottingham Rugby
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 9 – 18/19/20 November
Rotherham Titans    v    Jersey Reds
Cornish Pirates    v    London Irish
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Doncaster Knights
London Scottish    v    Richmond
London Welsh        v    Bedford Blues
Nottingham Rugby    v    Ealing Trailfinders

Round 10 – 25/26/27 November
Ealing Trailfinders    v    London Welsh
Bedford Blues        v    London Scottish
Richmond        v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Doncaster Knights    v    Cornish Pirates
London Irish        v    Jersey Reds
Nottingham Rugby    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 11 – 2/3/4 December
Rotherham Titans    v    London Irish
Jersey    Reds        v    Doncaster Knights
Cornish Pirates    v    Richmond
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Bedford Blues
London Scottish    v    Ealing Trailfinders
London Welsh        v    Nottingham Rugby

Round 12 – 23 or 26 December
London Welsh        v    London Scottish
Nottingham Rugby    v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Cornish Pirates
Bedford Blues        v    Jersey Reds
Richmond        v    London Irish
Rotherham Titans    v    Doncaster Knights

Round 13 – 30/31/1 January 
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    London Welsh
Doncaster Knights    v    Richmond
London Irish        v    Bedford Blues
Jersey    Reds        v    Ealing Trailfinders
Cornish Pirates    v    Nottingham Rugby
London Scottish    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 14 – 27/28/29 January
London Scottish    v    Yorkshire Carnegie
London Welsh        v    Cornish Pirates
Nottingham Rugby    v    Jersey Reds
Ealing Trailfinders    v    London Irish
Bedford Blues        v    Doncaster Knights
Rotherham Titans    v    Richmond

Round 15 – 3/4/5 February
Jersey    REds        v    London Welsh
Cornish Pirates    v    London Scottish
Richmond        v    Bedford Blues
Doncaster Knights    v    Ealing Trailfinders
London Irish        v    Nottingham Rugby
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 16 – 17/18/19 February
Yorkshire Carnegie    v    Cornish Pirates
London Scottish    v    Jersey Reds
London Welsh        v    London Irish
Nottingham Rugby    v    Doncaster Knights
Ealing Trailfinders    v    Richmond
Rotherham Titans    v    Bedford Blues

Round 17 – 24/25/26 February 
Doncaster Knights    v    London Welsh
London Irish        v    London Scottish
Jersey    Reds        v    Yorkshire Carnegie
Bedford Blues        v    Ealing Trailfinders
Richmond        v    Nottingham Rugby
Cornish Pirates    v    Rotherham Titans

Round 18 – 3/4/5 March
Cornish Pirates v Jersey Reds
Yorkshire Carnegie v London Irish
London Scottish v Doncaster Knights
London Welsh v Richmond
Rotherham Titans v Ealing Trailfinders
Nottingham Rugby v Bedford Blues

Round 19 – 17/18/19 March 
Bedford Blues  v  London Welsh
Richmond  v  London Scottish
Doncaster Knights  v  Yorkshire Carnegie
London Irish  v  Cornish Pirates
Ealing Trailfinders  v  Nottingham Rugby
Jersey Reds  v  Rotherham Titans

Round 20 – 24/25/26 March
Jersey Reds  v  London Irish
Cornish Pirates  v  Doncaster Knights
Yorkshire Carnegie  v  Richmond
London Scottish  v  Bedford Blues
London Welsh  v  Ealing Trailfinders
Rotherham Titans  v  Nottingham Rugby

Round 21 – 7/8/9April 
Nottingham Rugby  v  London Welsh
Ealing Trailfinders  v  London Scottish
Bedford Blues  v  Yorkshire Carnegie
Richmond  v  Cornish Pirates
Doncaster Knights  v  Jersey Reds
London Irish  v  Rotherham Titans

Round 22 – 15 April 
Doncaster Knights  v  London Irish
Jersey Reds  v  Richmond
Cornish Pirates  v  Bedford Blues
Yorkshire Carnegie  v  Ealing Trailfinders
London Scottish  v  Nottingham Rugby
London Welsh  v  Rotherham Titans

Play off semi-final Leg 1 April 28 – May 1 (tbc)

Play off semi-final Leg 2 May 5-7 (tbc).

Greene King IPA Championship Final Leg 1 w/c May 13

Greene King IPA Championship Final Leg 2 w/c May 20 
NB: All kick-off times and match dates to be confirmed by the club.