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Rugby re-shuffle will see league changes

Malcolm Howe

sport@newburynews.co.uk

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RUGBY Union’s league structure is to undergo radical changes from the 2016-17 season in a bid to reduce travel time and mileage to away matches. The top two flights will remain unchanged, but National Leagues One will be cut from 16 to 15 teams and the current National leagues Two North and South will be split into three regional divisions of 15 clubs each, bringing up 13 clubs from the next tier. That level, which currently comprises four ‘national’ leagues totalling 56 clubs from North, Midlands, South East and South West, will in future have eight divisions of 12 teams each with a compulsory cup competition. Level six of eight divisions which includes South West One East of which Newbury is a member, will switch to 16 divisions of 12 teams with an optional cup competition and the seventh level - now contested by Tadley and Thatcham - will become 16 divisions of 12 clubs with an optional cup contest. The remaining leagues below those levels will continue to be administered by local associations. It means that clubs will be jostling for higher placings up the structure over the next two seasons. Clubs at Newbury's level will have 56 extra places available at the higher level with the knock-on below meaning that more than 80 clubs will rise a grade. TADLEY will kick off their first campaign in London Two South West with a trip to KCS Old Boys and their ground in New Malden, Surrey on September 13. Tadley’s first home game the following week is against Winchester in a league that will now comprise the following clubs: Effingham, Farnham, KCS Old Boys, London Cornish, Old Alleynians, Old Regatians, Portsmouth, Tadley, Tottonians, Warlingham, Weybridge Vandals, Winchester.

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