Eastern Counties League restructure put on hold for now

PLANS to revamp the Eastern Counties Rugby Union structure have been put on hold, despite a majority of clubs voting in favour of the changes.

Around 75 per cent of the clubs that had their say, agreed with proposals that included relegation and promotion between a brand-new Eastern Counties 2 League, split into two divisions (North/East and South/West) and the Merit Leagues.

The changes are still likely to go ahead – probably at the start of the 2014-15 season – but Eastern Counties Rugby Union (ECRU) president Harry Moore said a delay would allow the Eastern Counties board to consider the concerns of clubs against them.

The proposals were designed to try and increase player participation – as part of a bigger drive by the RFU – with much emphasis placed on shorter and cheaper journeys for clubs and a desire for more competitive leagues.

“There was a small majority in favour of the proposals,” said ECRU president, Harry Moore, who led the focus group that devised the changes.

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“We have decided not to push the changes through at the moment, because it was a small majority, but we are not dropping them either.

“The next step is to carry out some more work and put further proposals to the clubs.

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Among the concerns at last Monday’s ECRU management meeting at Ipswich YM was a fear that smaller clubs gaining promotion from the Merit to Eastern Counties League would then not be able to progress any further.

This was due to bigger clubs – fielding second teams in the Suffolk Merit Leagues – not being able to move up to the London Leagues, courtesy of their first teams already being members.

A bigger emphasis on competitive games was also met with concern with Ipswich YM director of rugby Andrew Moore explaining how some players simply wanted to play socially.

Harry Moore added: “We will keep the same basic ideas.

“I am not disappointed with the outcome because I am buoyed by the fact that we have received so much input from clubs as a result of the consultation.”

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