RFU To Recommend Changes To Lower-Level Rugby To Limit Travel, Retain Players
The Rugby Football Union is to seek approval from its council "to overhaul its league structures as part of a string of wide-ranging proposals to increase grassroots participation and 'future-proof' the game from competition from other team sports and leisure activities,'' according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. Radical suggestions "such as a switching the leagues to a summer playing season have been rejected." The review, which addresses league rugby below the Premiership and Championship, will, however, "present more than 20 recommendations to the RFU council for debate and approval" at Twickenham on Friday, including "a restructuring of the leagues from National One and below." The review states that it "unearthed significant concerns about both the extent and cost of current league structures and burnout because of the increased physicality of the game, which is causing players to give up the game at a younger age." To address these concerns the steering group "recommends that while Level Three (currently National One) should remain a national league," reduced from 16 to 14 clubs and with no cup competition, the pyramid structure beneath should be “flattened” to reduce travel time and costs for away matches (TELEGRAPH, 4/7).