Leagues revamp gets the okay from local clubs

HAWICK’S rugby clubs have given the thumbs up to the radical league reconstruction plans following a major review by an SRU working party.

Less travel, reduced costs and players having to take time off work were crucial as Hawick YM, Harlequins and Linden voted for the changes, which will come into effect over the next two seasons.

Hawick RFC will continue to play in the Premiership while the others will be also be looking for more competitive matches at local level.

YM vice-president Derek Hartop said: “I’m happy with the changes and the fact that we were promoted means that we will not have so much travelling. If we finish in the top four next season, we will end up as one of the top 40 the following season.

“A lot will still depend on the geographical split on how things balance out, but logistically it makes sense.”

The YM hope that the plans allow the club to play in more sevens, but Hartop admitted that he did have some concern about the cup. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen.”

Linden president Gary Alexander, whose club had to raise £14,000 in travel costs last season, said: “We’re delighted that the restructure was passed without amendment as our travel costs will reduce enormously and we should not have the player availability problems of the last two seasons.

“We will be travelling no further than Edinburgh and North Berwick. Time on buses and away from families will reduce. We are very grateful to John Davidson and his working party for their efforts over the past season where clubs were widely consulted on a contentious issue.

“We also support the move to 10-team leagues and a localised cup competition.”

The news was also welcomed at Hawick Harlequins. Sean Peffers, secretary, commented: “It will not affect us as much as the other clubs and we hope to do well this season.”

The new structure will see one Premier (12 teams and then 10) and one National League from 2012-13 with an East Championship divided into five regional leagues.