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Bishop's Stortford discover 2022-23 National League 1 fixtures as former youngster Tom Hitchcock signs for Premiership side London Irish

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Bishop's Stortford will begin the 2022-23 National League 1 season at home to new boys Hull on Saturday September 3.

The visitors to Silver Leys on the opening day topped National League 2 South last term, finishing four points clear of Sedgley Park.

Stortford are also at home on the second Saturday of the campaign as they welcome derby rivals Cambridge on September 10. Their first away game comes the following week at Darlington Mowden Park.

National League 1 has been reduced to 14 teams and the RFU has confirmed that the winners will be promoted to the Championship while the bottom three will be relegated to National League 2, which now comprises North, East and West Divisions. The champions of those three divisions will come up to National League 1.

Meanwhile, former Stortford youngster Tom Hitchcock is hoping to make a name for himself in the Gallagher Premiership after signing for London Irish.

The 22-year-old centre came through the ranks at Silver Leys and featured in the first team in 2018-19 before heading to Exeter University.

Tom Hitchcock in action for Bishop's Stortford's first team against Old Elthamians in April 2019. Picture: Andy Todd
Tom Hitchcock in action for Bishop's Stortford's first team against Old Elthamians in April 2019. Picture: Andy Todd

And after getting a taste of professional rugby last season when he played in a Premiership Cup match for Exeter Chiefs, Hitchcock wants to help the Exiles build on their eighth-place finish in the top flight next term.

"Moving to London Irish is a really exciting opportunity for me and I believe I am joining a very exciting project here," he said.

"I was fortunate enough to have a first taste of professional rugby this year with Exeter Chiefs and I feel that London Irish is the perfect place to continue my growth in the game.

"The club is in a really encouraging place and did really well last season and I can only hope to play my part in doing the same next year."

Tom Hitchcock, left, in his Stortford youth days (57507863)
Tom Hitchcock, left, in his Stortford youth days (57507863)

Hitchcock went to Felsted School and was also part of the Saracens academy, playing for their under-18s, before going down to Devon for his studies.

And he played his part in Exeter University winning the BUCS Super Rugby National Championship for the first time in six years by scoring a try in their 14-13 victory over Durham in the final in April.

"Tom is a talented player with a great aptitude for fast running rugby, as played in the BUCS League, and will become part of our extensive cast of young and exciting players," said London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney.

"He has shown good promise in his time at Exeter University and we very much look forward to aiding in his development in the future."

BSRFC National League 1 fixtures

September - 3 Hull (H), 10 Cambridge (H), 17 Darlington Mowden Park (A), 24 Rams (H)

October - 1 Rosslyn Park (A), 15 Birmingham Moseley (H), 22 Leeds Tykes (A), 29 Plymouth Albion (H)

November - 5 Taunton Titans (A), 12 Sale FC (H), 26 Cinderford (A)

December - 3 Esher (H), 10 Chinnor (A), 17 Cambridge (A)

January - 7 Darlington Mowden Park (H), 14 Rams (A), 21 Rosslyn Park (H), 28 Birmingham Moseley (A)

February - 18 Leeds Tykes (H), 25 Plymouth Albion (A)

March - 4 Taunton Titans (H), 11 Sale FC (A), 25 Cinderford (H)

April - 1 Esher (A), 15 Chinnor (H), 22 Hull (A).

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