OTLEY RUFC have come out in opposition to RFU proposals to restructure the league pyramid.

Otley play in National League Two North, which has 16 teams. The South division also has 16 clubs. All of these teams play 30 league games per season.

The RFU proposals, which would affect clubs from National League One and below, call for a maximum of 14 teams in a league, which would reduce the number of games a season to 26, which they say would be better for player welfare.

Leagues would also be more regional, which the RFU says would reduce the travel burden on players and supporters.

The RFU’s proposals for National League Two, which are intended to come into force for the 2021/22 season, are:

Option 1: Three leagues of 14 – North, Central and South – a total of 42 teams at Level 4.

Option 2: Four leagues of 14, a total of 56 teams at Level 4.

Otley chairman Paul Mackie said the club would prefer to remain with the "status quo", but the RFU have insisted that this in not on option.

Reducing the number of games from 30 to 26 takes away two home games per season, which Mackie says would significantly impact revenues.

“Those 15 games at home are an opportunity to run our business," said Mackie, who added: "The quality of rugby would also be significantly be reduced. Our unique selling point is showcasing National League Two rugby at the best quality we can get.

"I understand the issue about player welfare, but there aren't many players who able to play 30 games in a season, so you make sure you have a squad that you can rotate and create competition for places.

Mackie also said that reducing the travel burden and bringing together more local clubs would increase competition for players, resulting in an increase in player wages.

"None of these factors will make a rugby club more sustainable and clubs will find it more difficult to survive,” he added.

One of Otley's long-time National League Two North rivals, Wharfedale, also oppose the restructure.

Wharfedale chairman Robert Fort said: “The RFU have been trying to do this for a few years, and their reasoning is that in the modern era, players are not prepared to commit to playing 30 matches in a season. There are fewer people and teams playing rugby than there were 10 to 20 years ago. It’s a societal change, as people are more focused on personal enjoyment. The RFU want to make games more local so players can commit to playing more matches.”

In some leagues lower down the pyramid, the number of league teams could drop to 12, which would mean 22 games per season.

Ilkley RFC, a club with close ties to Otley, support the league restructure.

"Twenty-six games in a season is a lot," said Ilkley rugby chairman Andrew Munro. "We had 23 players injured or unavailable last weekend and we played eight second team players in our first team. Having three or four rest weekends in a season is not enough for players to recover."

* Meanwhile, Otley will host Luctonians at Cross Green at 2pm this Saturday after the same fixture was postponed last weekend because of Storm Dennis.

Although they are third from bottom and in the relegation zone, Mackie says Otley can survive by winning their five remaining home games, many of which are against teams in the bottom half of the table.