Rugby restructure set to be put back a year

Raiders chairman David Hinchliffe
Raiders chairman David Hinchliffe
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A PROPOSED restructure of the National Leagues is set to be put back by at least a year.

The plan was for Level 4 leagues – National 2 South and National 2 North – to become three 15-team divisions for the 2016-17 season, with 13 teams promoted from lower divisions to make up the shortfall.

When it comes in, only the champions of each of the three divisions would get promoted into National 1 and there would be no play-off match.

A number of National League clubs opposed the restructure and the Adult Competition Review Committee will now re-survey clubs, although the changes could still come into force for the 2017-18 season.

Worthing Raiders chairman David Hinchliffe said: “A lot of the NCA clubs didn’t want the changes and a number of lower down clubs weren’t overly keen.

“The RFU have agreed to re-visit the idea. It was planned to come in for the start of the 2016-17 season but now looks as though it will be for the 2017-18 season as there has to be a whole year before a restructure can take place.

“If it does come in, that will mean just one team will be promoted from each division and there will be no play-off game.

“In the next two seasons, there will still be the play-off, which means there are two places to aim for.

“If the changes had come in for the 2016-17 season, that would have meant the pressure would have been on next season to win the league and get up into National 1.

“There’s at least the second chance of a play-off game next season if we don’t win the league.”

One of the reasons behind the restructure is to cut travel costs but Hinchliffe said: “Dropping one away game a season isn’t a major thing, especially as clubs are then drawing less revenue from having one less home game.”

Raiders’ fixtures for the new season will be released tomorrow.

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