RFU to calculate rest of season and keep promotion and relegation after coronavirus pandemic saw campaigns terminated
The RFU has announced it will be using a ‘best playing record formula maintaining promotion and relegation’ for its NCA National League and community men’s and women’s leagues’ final standings.
The sport’s governing body had terminated the season early last month due to the coronavirus pandemic but it had not been made clear if a points per game or null and void method was to be used.
But a statement released on their website this morning outlines how they will determine final standings on a calculated formula by '6pm Friday' before promotion and relegation kicks in. It is in contrast to how the local football season will be ended by the FA, which was declared null and void with no promotion and relegation and all results expunged, subject to FA Council ratification.
It is not set to have any significant effect on Bury St Edmunds who were left sixth in National League 2 South with 78 points from 24 games, which would be a club record finish in the fourth tier, with six games remaining.
The same is true for Sudbury in London 1 North, who were seventh when the league action was suspended, neither in the promotion or relegation picture.
In London 2 North East, Diss were in a mid-table sixth following their relegation last season, one place below Stowmarket, with six (Diss) and five games left respectively.
In London 3 Eastern Counties, Ely were third after 16 of their 20 matches, but 22 and 23 points behind the top two sides.
Thurston were above the bottom three in eighth with 30 points from 16 matches, while Thetford may have relegation confirmed as they are currently second bottom with 16 points from 17 matches. But they are well clear of basement side Beccles, who are on -13 points.
The final calculations will certainly be of interest for Newmarket Rugby Club though as their first team was left second in Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One Shield, as they fought for a top place promotion spot.
After five matches they were level on points with Norwich Union, whom they trailed on points difference (20-12).
Sudbury II (Talbots) will also think they may have a good claim for promotion too, trailing both sides by a single point in third place.
The final table calculation will be complicated, perhaps, by part of the first phase of the season's results being carried over into the phase two table, but only the results against the sides who they played in the first phase (amounting to one team each).
Meanwhile, Haverhill & District had been battling against divisional rivals Mildenhall & Red Lodge for top spot in the Eastern Counties Greene King 2 West, with hopes of securing promotion to EC1 West.
Mildenhall & Red Lodge were 55 points after 15 games with Haverhill on 46 having played a game less.
But with Haverhill having four fixtures remaining and having conceded just seven points – one try – across their last four outings combined, they were on course to finish strongly.
The full statement read: "Following the early end of the rugby season in England as a result of COVID-19, we're announcing the final league positions for the Greene King IPA Championship, Tyrrells Premier 15s and men’s and women’s community game.
"Proposals from the RFU governance committee to conclude the season for those leagues at both professional and community level were yesterday ratified by the RFU Council.
"It was agreed that final standings for the Greene King IPA Championship and men’s and women’s community game would be calculated on a best playing record formula maintaining promotion and relegation for those leagues.
"The Tyrrells Premier 15s season has been declared null and void as there is no promotion or relegation in this league.
"RFU President, Peter Wheeler, said: “We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions. We have listened to recommendations from the heart of the game and the approach has been ratified by the RFU Council.
“This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.
“With per cent of the season complete for the community game, we believe our approach is fair and the right one for our leagues.
"We have clubs that are clear league leaders and worthy of promotion, but also other clubs who have said they would benefit from relegation, to play more meaningful rugby.
"Final league tables will be available on the England Rugby website by 6pm, Friday 3 April."
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More by this authorRussell Claydon