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Bishop's Stortford part of RFU's restructure of National Leagues which will see number of teams in divisions cut from 16 to 14




National League 1 is to be reduced by two teams from the 2022-23 season.

The RFU has announced a new competition structure at levels three and four which will see 14 teams in the divisions rather than 16.

There will also be a protected two-week break over the Christmas period, rather than just reserve weekends, as well as protected weekends off from league action.

The new measures aim to be more appealing to players and help them balance their rugby commitments with time away from the sport. It is also hoped the changes will arrest a decline in the number of people participating in the community game.

"Our recommendations reflect growing feedback from players that shorter bursts of intense rugby are preferable to a long, extended season," said Stephen Pearson, chairman of the RFU's future competitions structure group.

"Players have reiterated they need breaks in the season and would prefer more localised fixtures.

Bishop's Stortford in action against Cambridge at Silver Leys in their first National League 1 campaign back in 2017-18. Picture: Vikki Lince
Bishop's Stortford in action against Cambridge at Silver Leys in their first National League 1 campaign back in 2017-18. Picture: Vikki Lince

"We believe that less intensity to the league system, with shorter travel times to and from games, are important features that today's players want in their competition structure, to help fit within
busy lives.

"Our fundamental goal is to deliver a competition structure that works for today's players and for the players of the future."

Bishop's Stortford, who have competed in National League 1 since being promoted in 2017, and their fellow National League clubs have been totally sidelined by the coronavirus crisis.

The league campaign was cancelled before the proposed cup tournament, which would have given teams some competitive action, also bit the dust.

"By waiting until 2022-23 for full implementation, we have time to work through the precise details and it gives clubs time to return to rugby in a familiar structure in 2021-22 after the disruption of the pandemic," said David Roberts, chairman of the community game board.



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