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League structures

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League structures

Postby mattw » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:35 pm

With the end of the season coming into sight, is a good time to start a conversation on the structure of these leagues. There's obvious difficulties, especially in the lower leagues, in terms of drop outs. I know this kind of happens already, but I think we should formalise a structure by which the higher divisions have more teams, and the lower divisions have fewer.

My suggestions would be for Prem/Championship and Div 1 to have 14 team leagues; 2nd divisions have 13 teams; 3rd divisions have 12 teams; 4th divisions have 11 teams and 5th divisions have 10 teams.

This approach has three main advantages IMO:
1. That the opportunities for clubs to load lower teams when higher teams aren’t playing is reduced because higher teams will be playing more often, addressing a long-term grumble on these boards;
2. It reduces playing commitments at lower levels where, with all due respect, players may not want or be able to cope with playing quite so many games and makes social rugby a more manageable commitment; and
3. There will likely be fewer matches cancelled due to pitch conditions, given that lower teams usually play on the worst pitches, and having fewer games on the worst pitches will give them more time to recover between games.

You never know, it may even encourage some clubs to participate in the later rounds of the cup competitions too – there have been 28 walkovers across the cup competitions so far this year.

Thoughts?
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Re: League structures

Postby forumadmin » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:05 pm

Just one observation. The more differing league sizes that you have the more difficult it becomes to match teams in a club for homes and aways. This is not too bad if clubs have lots of pitches and changing rooms but becomes a problem when pitches and changing rooms are tight.

This last season there were more differing league sizes than any previous season. Premier league had 8 teams playing each other 4 times, Championship had 9 teams playing each other 3 times, Div 1, 2, 3 and 4 had a 14 team structure playing each other twice and Div 5 was originally meant to be 9 teams playing each other 3 times but with teams joining late the division 5s became 10 team leagues.

By sheer fluke, the first part of the season in Div 5 matched perfectly Lancs & Cheshire Div 3 North and South. Unfortunately, Lancs & Cheshire Div 3 North had a late change and didn't match at all.

Even though Div 1, 2, 3 and 4 had a 14 team structure there weren't always 14 teams in the leagues.

Another consideration if league sizes are reduced is which teams are relegated and promoted to obtain the correct league size? Extra teams promoted is not too bad but relegating extra teams creates problems if the teams did not know at the beginning of the season that they were in the relegation zone.

I have no strong feelings, either way, I'm just pointing out some of the 'nuts & bolts' problems.

If there is a will, usually expressed at an AGM then most things can be made to work.
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Re: League structures

Postby ano3 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:57 am

I play in the lower leagues. Being bad at rugby isn't a barrier to wanting to play every single week. I want more games, not less.
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Re: League structures

Postby mattw » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:22 pm

I very much applaud that, but the drop out rate in the lower divisions suggests you may be in a minority.
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Re: League structures

Postby ano3 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:07 pm

There's a school of thought that playing every week encourages players to see rugby as an activity that takes place on a Saturday every Saturday and that less frequent matches leads to an attitude amongst players that they'd better find a more reliable hobby to avoid putting those shelves up or going to Ikea.

I don't know which is more accurate, but the assumption that less games leads to more reliable participation shouldn't be acted upon without testing.
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Re: League structures

Postby 373 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:06 pm

Based on my observations over the past couple of years the problems are:

1) Clubs putting teams into the league when they aren't at sufficient strength to do so. I reckon you need about 40 players willing to play for a team to ensure that they can get a team out throughout the season. We looked at this at our club - we have about 30 'Core' players in the team who play regularly and we will get about 50% of these on any given week. There was about 35 'Social' Players where we could get anything from 5-35% from. We are getting squads of about 20/21 most game days. On paper we have more than enough for 2 teams, in practicality though its enough for 1 team. We try to engage lads with friendly fixtures where we can.

2) Trying to fit too much in - 14 team leagues and a cup are too much rugby in the time frame we have to play it, especially that from Mid November to March (Normally..) there's a good chance of games being called off due to the weather. When you factor in occasions like England games as well, there is too much going on. 12 team leagues will reduce that strain - then if teams want more rugby they can organise it themselves, as it seems a few of the Premier Teams have done this year on weeks off.

3) The leagues getting older - there's a lack of willing fresh young players coming into the game. The pool of players gets smaller every year.

So, how do we alter the structures to help with those?

The Leagues need to shrink - Without doubt this is vital. There needs to be less packed into each season. Fixtures around the 6N need to be avoided if England are playing on a Saturday at 3pm with those days being treated as completely off limits.

I'd keep the Current structure as is in the top two leagues then have 12 teams in every league down. Possibly even look at creating a N/S at Div 1 level to prevent a few rogue long distance games.

The Cups need to become an optional set of games rather than mandated. Using Tyldesley 2's fixtures from this year the season would almost look something like this -
01/09/2018 Ormskirk 2
08/09/2018 Trafford Metrovick 2
15/09/2018 Colne & Nelson 1
22/09/2018 Preston Grasshoppers 4
29/09/2018 FREE WEEKEND
06/10/2018 Crosby St Marys 1
13/10/2018 Broughton RUFC 1
20/10/2018 Rossendale 3
27/10/2018 FREE WEEKEND
03/11/2018 Upper Eden 2
10/11/2018 Oldham 2
17/11/2018 Burnley 2
24/11/2018 FREE WEEKEND
01/12/2018 Chorley 1
08/12/2018 Ormskirk 2
15/12/2018 FREE WEEKEND
22/12/2018 Trafford Metrovick 2
29/12/2018 XMAS
05/01/2019 Colne & Nelson 1
12/01/2019 FREE WEEKEND
19/01/2019 Preston Grasshoppers 4
26/01/2019 Crosby St Marys 1
02/02/2019 6 Nations
09/02/2019 Broughton RUFC 1
16/02/2019 Rossendale 3
23/02/2019 6 Nations
02/03/2019 Upper Eden 2
09/03/2019 Oldham 2 (Eng 4.45)
16/03/2019 Free Weekend (Eng 5pm)
23/03/2019 Burnley 2
30/03/2019 Chorley 1
06/04/2019 Free Weekend
13/04/2019 Free Weekend
20/04/2019 EASTER
27/04/2019 Free Weekend

Free weekends every month to allow for games to be caught up on, season actually ends a month earlier, even with breaks. If people are wanting more rugby they could enter the Cup (played on Free Weekends) or arrange their own friendlies. Biggest thing there is that April would be barren, so to encourage younger players why not have an Integrated Colts/Social Team Cup etc, actually get Colt's playing on a Saturday!
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Re: League structures

Postby ctrainor » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:55 pm

"but the assumption that less games leads to more reliable participation shouldn't be acted upon without testing"

I agree with this, My own Club Hawcoat Park has just had their second consecutive home game called off as teams fail to travel.
Gutted personally as I was down to ref the latest one.
I know that the captain and committee are now struggling to keep players motivated especially as they've hardly played a game in a month and whether we like it or not, the world has changed an old habits we had of trying to get a game anywhere have long gone.
Players these days just disappear and are hard to get back
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Re: League structures

Postby mattw » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:43 pm

373's plan looks pretty good.
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Re: League structures

Postby PitProp » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:20 pm

mattw wrote:373's plan looks pretty good.


I bet your Club Treasurer would disagree.
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Re: League structures

Postby 373 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:17 pm

PitProp wrote:
mattw wrote:373's plan looks pretty good.


I bet your Club Treasurer would disagree.

Then it'd be your Club Treasurer's job to tell his Fixture's Sec. to find some friendlies to fill the gaps. Is social Rugby bar takings really keeping any club in the Black? If so, what are they doing the other 6 days of the week?
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