WHARFEDALE president John Spencer believes that national one will still be extended from 14 to 16 clubs next season (writes Mike Crowther).

The RFU council voted narrowly against proposals from First Division Rugby (FDR) and the National Clubs' Association (NCA) to increase the number of clubs in their leagues by two until further consultation of lower level clubs has been sought.

But Spencer - chairman of England Rugby and a member of the RFU management board - has persuaded the RFU president to put national one expansion on the agenda at a special council meeting in March.

He will speak in favour of FDR moving to 16 clubs, a scenario which would have implications for national two clubs.

An expanded first division would include the two promoted teams from national two but no clubs would come down.

To keep national two at the same number of teams, only one would be relegated from that league rather than the usual three.

Promotion from national three north and south would remain as normal with the winners of both leagues being promoted plus the play-off winners.