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NCA Cup plans are shelved

Cambridge will have gone a year without any competitive rugby. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge will have gone a year without any competitive rugby. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge will not be playing any competitive rugby for the 2020/21 season.

The National League campaign had already been cancelled, but plans for an NCA Cup had been unveiled before Christmas which placed Cambridge in the same regional pool at Bishop’s Stortford, Bury St Edmunds, Old Albanian and Westcliff.

A series of meetings last week with all 48 clubs in the National Clubs Association leagues led to unanimous agreement that there would be insufficient time to stage the competition.

It was a decision based on the uncertainty of if and when training and playing would be allowed to resume, with the RFU’s Return to Rugby roadmap back at Stage A given the current national lockdown.

“With every re-tiering and subsequent tightening of restrictions, it was getting harder to envisage the NCA Cup getting off the ground,” said NCA chairman John Inverdale.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we’ve made the call because there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the idea, but ultimately we’ve had to concede defeat.”

Clubs will be permitted to play friendlies as and when restrictions are lifted, and Bury St Edmunds coach Nick Wakley has already indicated that they would be keen to do so – with several regional hubs already considering three- or four-team tournaments in April and May.

“It’s up to all our members to decide individually what they want to do,” said Inverdale.

“Some will shut up shop and prepare and hope for a September start next season.

“Others would like to play matches to satisfy the demands of their players, who are desperate to get back on the pitch, and their supporters who have been starved of going to their local club.”

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