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Cup competition could raise a cheer in National Leagues

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Matt Dawson in action for Cambridge in the win over Sale FC. Picture: Chris Fell
Matt Dawson in action for Cambridge in the win over Sale FC. Picture: Chris Fell

Plans for competitive rugby this season have stepped up a gear with the National Clubs Association revealing provisional outlines for a club competition.

It was announced at the end of October that all league rugby in the community game would be cancelled for the 2020/21 campaign.

With rugby still at Stage D of the RFU’s Return to Rugby Roadmap, and needing to get to Stage F, there has been plenty of discussion how to create something of a meaningful season.

The RFU have now put into place a cup competition to provide action when contact rugby is allowed – involvement will be voluntary but Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams has already spoken of their eagerness to take part.

The proposals for National League One and Two clubs would see two phases, with the first being a regional based league of around six clubs, playing home and away fixtures.

The groupings and fixtures will be announced once clubs wishing to be involved is known, with the main objective to minimise travelling.

The second phase will be based on finishing positions in the regional leagues, with sides split into cup, plate and bowl knockout tournaments to determine three winners.

There has been an offer of hosting the finals at Twickenham.

NCA chairman John Inverdale said: “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. I’m delighted we’re now able to blow the whistle and I hope as many clubs will enter as possible.”

The restart will be conditional on adapted laws of the game, which is likely to be particularly centred on the scrum.

There are also discussions being held within the Eastern Counties Rugby Union to consider how the game can restart in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

It is seeking to ensure that clubs at all levels, including second and lower teams – which would impact Cambridge, Shelford and Cantabrigian – and first and women’s teams can create a playing programme that suits their needs.

The intention is to hold meetings before the end of November with a view to understanding clubs’ positions and ambitions to draw up proposals to meet those needs.

They will also be governed by any conditional law changes.

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