Hemel Stags have agreed with the Rugby Football League to withdraw from the Betfred League 1 competition for the 2019 season, with a view to returning in 2020.
After a challenging 2018 campaign, the Stags – who were founded in 1981 as an amateur club, and had played in a number of different competitions before joining the semi-professional ranks in 2013 – have requested to concentrate on developing their community programme, with a special emphasis on open age players.
They have already submitted an expression of interest in joining the tier four Southern Conference competition that will be launched in the spring of 2019 – one of 14 expressions that have already been received.
At this stage there are no plans for them to be replaced in Betfred League 1 in 2019, meaning the fixture list is being drawn up for an 11-team competition.
Bob Brown, the club’s founder and chairman, said:
“Following discussions between the RFL and Hemel Stags, it has been agreed by both parties that the club will not take part in the 2019 League One season. A return to League One is planned for 2020. In 2019, Hemel Stags will concentrate on developing its community programme with a special emphasis on post 16 years community rugby league.
“In September the Stags had 21 players selected in London Origin representative teams at U14, U15 and U17 levels. The club is proud of its record of developing southern rugby league talent over the last decade and more, and this move will assist the club in being able to build on this progress, and position itself to continue cultivating talent for years to come.”
Further details of the other clubs who have submitted expressions of interest in joining the Southern Conference will follow as the application process continues over the coming weeks.