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Sports broadcaster and new National Clubs Association chairman John Inverdale wants National League 1 and 2 to be more appreciated by rugby union fans

Getting more people to appreciate the standard of rugby played by Bishop's Stortford and their fellow National League sides is of paramount importance, according to John Inverdale.

The experienced sports broadcaster has been named the National Clubs Association's new chairman, taking over from Norman Robertson.

And Inverdale is determined to take National League 1 and 2 to the next level as he feels it deserves to be held in higher esteem.

"I think the NCA is under-appreciated in the game as a whole, but I also think it's the responsibility of the NCA to go out there and get more appreciated," he said.

"There are ways that can be done, but the fact that we've got a product here which stretches to Tynedale to Canterbury to Luctonians to Redruth, that's an amazing geographical spread with everyone with the same core values and the same love of the same thing.

"One of the objectives of the NCA over the next five years is to just get more people to understand within the game, but fundamentally outside the game, that you don't have to go and watch Saracens play, or Bristol if you're in the West Country. You can go and watch Dings Crusaders and watch a really good game of rugby.

Broadcaster and new NCA chairman John Inverdale. Picture: BBC - Photographer: Colin Bell
Broadcaster and new NCA chairman John Inverdale. Picture: BBC - Photographer: Colin Bell

"If it's down your road, what you will watch is worth watching.

"The absolute key thing is broadening the sport and broadening people's awareness that the quality of play in levels three and four is worth your time on a Saturday afternoon. We all collectively have to try and broaden the appeal of our game."

Stortford's last game was a 31-24 success at Rotherham on March 7 before the 2019-20 campaign was ultimately curtailed due to the coronavirus crisis.

They are now waiting to discover when the 2020-21 season, which will be their centenary, can get
under way.

"I have been on the group that have been discussing when play might begin and a lot of the factors are way out of our control," said Inverdale.

"They are all down to 'R' figures [the average number of secondary virus infections produced by one infected person] and scientific advice and medical advice, and the nature of rugby because of its physical contact as opposed to fishing or golf or whatever it might be.

"Everyone is desperate to get started as soon as possible and all I can say is that this is a game that is built on trust. If you are at full-back, you trust the prop. If you are at scrum-half, you have to trust your outside-half otherwise our game doesn't operate.

"Across the NCA, you have to just trust the people who are making the decisions that they are doing it with our best interests at heart because we genuinely are."

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