This season is not even over, but Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill has already set his title-winning team their next challenge.

Last weekend’s win at Hartpury College saw Richmond crowned National League One champions with two games remaining.

It means a step up into the second tier of domestic rugby in the Championship, where they will be coming up against full-time professional outfits such as London Welsh, and London Irish or Newcastle Falcons.

However, it is a step that has not been taken lightly given Richmond’s desire to remain a part-time club.

It was only after a consultation and a unanimous vote carried by the players that Richmond elected to take the step up.

Richmond will remain a part-time amateur side, and no professional players will pull on the club’s jersey.

Hill said: “Although the boys are well looked after in terms of coaches, medical and physio support, and the rest, they all have day jobs.

“So the move up a level is a major step for them, but an opportunity to test themselves in Championship rugby.”

He added: “But each and every one of them wants it, so I’ve challenged them to give it everything for a period of 10 months to see what a squad of part-time rugby players can achieve in a full-time professional league.”

Chairman Peter Moore said: “Winning National One with what is essentially an amateur team is a wonderful achievement and all credit goes to those who made this possible.

RUGBY UNION: Richmond crowned champions, and Hill hails a "true great" skipper

“That means not just the first XV squad players and coaches, but the support staff, all the other players in our several teams, and all our sponsors, members and supporters many of whom have witnessed Richmond fight our way back up the leagues these past 17 years, and have kept the faith.”

He added: “We’re realistic about our chances and we know it will be tough both mentally and physically, but we genuinely have a great side which will give a good account of itself, and in the true Richmond way, that’s all we ask.

“Always remembering that for the players, rugby has to be enjoyed not endured.”