Liga 1 (rugby)

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The Liga 1 (Varkan: ლიგა 1) is a rugby union professional league that is played in Varkana. The Liga 1 is at the top of the national league system operated by the Varkan Rugby Union. There is promotion and relegation between the Liga 1 and the next level down, the Liga 2. The twenty best rugby teams in Varkana participate in the professional league.

The Liga 1's 38-week regular season runs from late August to May, with each club playing twenty games and having one per week. During the regular season, depending on the previous season's rankings, selected clubs participate in national and league tournaments, and Illypnian tournaments.

Format

Regular Season

The Aviva Premiership Rugby season runs from February to November and comprises 40 matches, with each club playing each other home and away. The results of the matches contribute points to the league as follows:

  • 4 points are awarded for a win
  • 2 points are awarded for a draw
  • 0 points are awarded for a loss, however
    • 1 losing (bonus) point is awarded to a team that loses a match by 7 points or fewer
  • 1 additional (bonus) point is awarded to a team scoring 4 tries or more in a match

Relegation

There exists a promotion and relegation system between the Liga 1 and Liga 2. The two lowest placed clubs on the ladder after the regular season are relegated to Liga 2, while two clubs come up from Liga 1, specifically the champion and the winner of a knock-out playoff between the next four teams on the ladder. The Liga 1 knock-out stages consist of three rounds. The teams finishing third through to sixth on the ladder play quarter-finals, hosted by the No. 3 and No. 4 teams. The winners then face the top two seeds in the semi-finals, whose winners then meet in the final.

Illypnian competition qualification

The top six teams qualify for the next season's Illypnian Rugby Champions Cup whilst the team in seventh place advances to a playoff for another place. Teams that do not qualify for the Champions Cup play in the Illypnian Rugby Challenge Cup.

Players

Liga 1 players are drawn from a number of sources; however, most players enter the league through the youth academies system. A small number of players have converted from other sports (rugby league mainly), or been recruited internationally. The Liga 1 has tight controls over the player lists of each club. Currently, each team can have a senior list of 38 to 40 players plus 4 to 8 rookie players, to a total of 44 players and up to three development rookies (international, alternate talent or university scholarship players). Changes to playing lists are permitted only in the off-season: clubs can trade players during a "trade period" which follows each season and recruit new players through their respective youth academies. Any trade between youth academies players is considered a trade between clubs, and therefore must be completed solely during the winter trade period.

Salary cap

Prior to the Varkan revolution, a salary cap was in place as part of the league's equalization policy. Following the establishment of a maximum wage by the Varkan government in 2001, the Liga 1's salary cap became obsolete, and general Varkan salary laws covered players salaries as well. This led to several strike attempts by players, but Liga 1's player association voted by a slim majority against strike. Nowadays, most players favor the maximum wage, as it allows clubs to focus spending on sporting facilities and better care for players.

Demographics

There were 842 players on Liga 1 club senior, veteran, rookie and international lists in 2014, including players from every communes of Varkana.

Foreign players

There were 22 players recruited from outside of Varkana on Liga 1 lists in 2014, including 16 from Aetolia. The other 6 players include 5 from Echia and 1 from Svaneti.

An international rookie list and international scholarship list were introduced in 2003. The international rookie list includes up to two players between the ages of 16 and 22 who are not Varkan citizens. These players may remain on this list for up to three years before they must be transferred to the senior or rookie list. For the first year, payments made to international-rookie-listed players fall outside the salary cap. The international scholarship list gives Liga 1 clubs the option of recruiting up to eight players from outside Varkana. At the beginning of 2014 there were 19 international scholarship players.

Clubs

Club
Position
in 2014-15
First season in
top division
Number of seasons
in Liga 1
First season of
current spell in
top division
Liga 1
titles
Last Liga 1 title
Agarak 01013th 1963-1964 26 2000–01 2 1982–83
Chiatura 0046th 1945-46 45 2005-06 0
Galia b 0047th 1892–93 123 1892–93 8 2010-11
Kaspia 01014th 1892–93 64 1979–80 5 2007-08
Klowa b 00415th 1892–93 123 1892–93 15 2008–09
Kojori 0108th 1956–57 24 1983–84 5 2004-05
Medhib 01010th 1995–96 4 2013–14 0
Mestia 0104th 1963–64 48 1978–79 16 2002–03
Mtskhetaa b 00416th 1892–93 123 1892–93 10 2013-14
Naruja 00412th 1968–69 33 1999–00 1 2003–04
Pitsundaa b 0102nd 1892–93 123 1892–93 18 2014-15
Roslavi 004L2: 2nd 2015–16 0 2015–16 0
Rustavia b 0109th 1892–93 123 1892–93 0 1958–59
Senakia b 01011th 1892–93 123 1892–93 7 2011–12
Sionia b 0041st 1892–93 123 1892–93 14 2012-13
Telavia b 0105th 1892–93 123 1892–93 9 2005-06
Tesho 004L2: 1st 1945–46 63 2015-16 0
Tsnoria b 00418th 1892–93 123 1892–93 13 2009–10
Tsqaltubo 01017th 1961–62 38 1982–83 0
Vani 0103rd 1998–99 11 2006–07 0

a: Founding member of Liga 1
b: Never been relegated from Liga 1

Media coverage

Liga 1 matches are currently broadcast by STV 2, ??? and ???.