CLECKHEATON RUFC head coach Thiu Barnard, is bemused with the Union Committee’s decision to force a league-restructure for the 2022-23 season.

The RFU Council voted on 27 November 2020 and 16 April 2021 to pass the following resolutions for a new competition structure in the adult male game from Level 3 and below.

The recommendations were proposed by the Future Competitions Structure Working Group following an 18-month review into the current competition structure, which has included extensive consultation sessions with Council Members, Constituent Bodies, Club administrators, competition organisers, match officials, coaches and players, in addition to webinars, a national survey and detailed analysis of available data.

After the decision was finalised on April 16, Changes to Level 3 and below will include: A protected two-week break over the Christmas period, the size of leagues at Levels 5 and below to be capped at 12 teams, teams at a given level will be grouped together geographically to reduce travel times and distance and a review of the competition structures will take place every three years.

Cleckheaton, who currently play their rugby in Level 6, will be exposed to the new changes, beginning in the 22-23 season, and discussing the matter, head coach Barnard, said: If they are going to shorten the leagues, that will mean there's less home games and less money for the clubs.

"That's how I see it."

"I don't see a problem with how it is now. 13 home games equal to a lot of money for a club and if it goes down to 11 or 10, then there is going to be a lot of money lost.

"I'll also believe it when I see it. There's always speculation about it and they planned to do something similar two years ago, but that never happened."

Adding to his frustration, Barnard said: "It's more down to the committees than me. I love the fact that we've got 13 home games, which brings in good revenue for the club.

"To be honest, there is a worry that it will creep into the professional game too. I currently have no idea really, but the game changes so much now, that we seem to have changes every season.

"I just wish they'd keep it the same and keep it as simple as possible. It's been working for how many decades now, so they should just leave it the way it is.

"Why change something that is unbroken."

With the changes taking place, Cleck will have shorter travelling distance for games, and on this matter, Barnard said: “The guys enjoy away games. We enjoy travelling as a group and let’s be honest, we don't have to travel that far, compared to higher divisions. We have to travel a maximum of two hours for an away game, and we love it. That's what rugby's about."