The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have announced their provisional league fixture schedule for 2020-21 for the community game, writes Gareth Davies.
Initial proposals for matches at South West Premier (level five) and below would see individual leagues split into two regional groups with teams locking horns in both home and away fixtures.
Even if league competition didn’t begin until January, which at the moment is the RFU’s worst case scenario, it would still allow games to take place that would constitute a league season.
Play-offs are then likely to decide permutations at both ends of any respective division. The second proposal would be geared towards a start nearing the end of 2020. This would see regional matches take place before the league united as one again.
Either a home or away fixture against teams that didn’t play each other during the regionalised section would now take place. At the other end of the scale, the best-case scenario would be an autumn start which would mean the season extending into May.
However, there would still be enough time to play a full 28-week campaign and this would involve 14 regionalised fixtures firstly. Once they are completed, teams would play those out of their local section home and away.
In the National League, just the first 15 rounds of fixtures have been revealed and despite the waters still seeming understandably murky on just when rugby can return, having a plan in place for fixtures will be a most welcome boost for all our clubs over the South West.
When the season does eventually start, newly promoted National League One side Taunton Titans will face fallen former Premiership side Leeds at Hyde Park on the opening day.
In National League Two South, the highlight sees Clifton host South West Premier champions Barnstaple. Further down the pyramid, the South West Premier campaign starts with fierce local rivals Weston-super-Mare facing off against the Hornets.
There is also a Devon-derby too, with Ivybridge travelling to Exmouth. Both newly promoted sides in South West One West start their campaigns at home with St Austell entertaining Devonport Services and Wellington hosting Crediton. In the East division, Frome start off with a home fixture against Trowbridge, while Sherborne are away at Grove.
Meanwhile, in Western Counties West, Newton Abbot will be looking to avoid a third consecutive relegation and they make the trip over the Tamar to a resurgent Truro side. Chosen Hill Former Pupils, who were Gloucestershire Premier champions from 2019-20, begin their Western Counties North campaign against recently relegated Cleve. Finally, Swanage & Wareham, Wimborne, and Dorchester, our three Dorset teams in Southern Counties South, play Yeovil, Salisbury and Devizes respectively on day one of 2020-21.