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Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: June 03, 2018, 04:28:56 PM »
RFU North have finally come to terms with the Lancashire clubs leaving. Their solution however is farcical...

“Clubs in SLC2, SLC3 and Cumbria will play each other 3 times which for some clubs in SLC2 and SLC 3 will mean two trips to the IOM“

It’s like the SPL!

Durham & Northumberland Two / Re: Top Dogs Next Season?
« on: June 03, 2018, 01:46:12 PM »
My favourites this year are Rockcliff with a new pitch that will suit their style of rugby and rumours of new incoming coaching staff/players. I heard that this will probably be biggest signing for them and for D/N 2 I hope the rumours are true as they have always been on the edge of promotion in last few seasons.
Craig Hamilton (ex-Falcons and Scotland lock) as player/coaching assistant seems a great signing. He's been gaining experience at Newcastle Uni so is 'on the path' - without wanting to sour the good news, it remains to be seen how long it will be before a more senior club whisks him away.

Rockcliff are my favourites now after seeing their coaching announcement

Durham & Northumberland Two / Re: Change to DN2 teams next Season
« on: May 28, 2018, 11:44:42 AM »
They’re planning to bring in electronic match cards for level 5 and below. However, they may not be in place for he start of this season.

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: Comings and Goings for 2018/19
« on: May 24, 2018, 05:43:19 PM »
Jonny Ward is returning to Novos from Morpeth.

Is Scott Powell going back to Stockton?

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 03:55:56 PM »
Fascinating and well put together piece Guv, will read it again more slowly when at home rather than looking over my shoulder at work !

Agreed.  And possibly deserves a thread of it's own?

Sounds good to me.

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 12:26:25 PM »

4. Findings and recommendations – league and cup rugby 2014 RFU Adult Competitions Review (ACR)
i. The landscape
4.1 By way of overview, it is apparent that the profile of club competition has changed markedly since the advent of the leagues 25 years ago – and also, more broadly, since the arrival of professionalism in 1995. The game has increased its physicality and intensity and, as a result, the attritional effect of playing has become more marked. Feedback has consistently remarked that the impact of this has been felt in a number of ways:
• Higher up the leagues, playing squads have become larger and more fluid to offset the likely loss of players to injury during the season
• Lower down the leagues:
o Better players are being lost to the attractions of higher-level rugby / the need to maintain larger squads, and the promise of material reward
o Less committed players are being lost to the risk / fear of injury, and the inability or reluctance to train harder to offset that risk
o A wider pool of players is required to field one team. The combined effect has been less rugby played, and a loss of teams within the competition structure as a whole “The number of teams run by junior clubs is, in many cases, much reduced with some clubs who used to turn out six or seven teams now running only three. Some of this is due to the economy and competition from other sport but some is due to paying players.” Brian Moore Daily Telegraph, 2 January 2012
• At all levels playing careers are shortening, with players now less likely to continue in the game beyond their late 20s than in previous years
These findings are true of all clubs. Again at Novos, we used to field 7 teams. Until recently we had struggled to put 3 teams out. Things are improving however as we now regularly have 4 teams playing, as well as an occasional Vets side. From knowledge, we also know that lots and lots of local clubs are struggling with overall playing numbers, and some have difficulties at times to field a second team.

How senior men’s rugby union is organised in this country is now completely different to how it was when league rugby was in its infancy. Top tier rugby is almost a different sport to that played by the vast majority of players. The ‘genie is out of the bottle’ for competitive rugby played in the professional era, and we cannot envisage a situation where the higher leagues change. Finances are now one of the main considerations not just for the very top teams, but also those aspiring to climb the leagues. Indeed, the RFU ACR noted comments from many clubs in the middle tiers, that more league rugby was very important to them, providing sponsorship, entrance charges and bar revenue.
This report has provided a brief but objective demonstration that for some Northumberland (and Durham) clubs, league rugby has offered the opportunity to play at a higher level through promotion. However we have also seen that for a higher proportion of clubs in both counties, our 1st XVs are now playing at a lower comparative level. Additionally, the overall number of games being played throughout clubs, whether league, merit, cups or friendlies has massively reduced.
Surely the main measure of how our clubs are doing, is the level at which our 1st XVs are playing. As we have already shown, in that first league season, there were 15 Northumberland and Durham clubs playing above the D&N league tiers. That was down to 10 in 2016-17, and could be as low as 8 next season. Even as recently as 2011-12, there were 13 of our clubs above that level (including Team Northumbria).
Whilst there will be many reasons behind the general decline, we firmly believe that clubs in Northumberland, and a good proportion of those in Durham are ‘geographically challenged’. Has our relative remoteness, and distances travelled (exacerbated by H&A fixtures) played a significant role in the reduced league standing of Northumberland (and Durham) clubs? Are our counties able to sustain more than 10 clubs playing league rugby above the D&N leagues?
We deliberately haven’t mentioned representative rugby. However both of our counties have appeared in 2 County Championship Finals in the fairly recent past. Northumberland won in 1981 and lost in 1995; Durham won in 1989 and lost in 1994. With the professional era, senior county rugby clearly doesn’t have the same attraction that it once did. What effect has there been on the ability of Northumberland and Durham to compete as the majority of our club sides have gradually slipped down the league pyramid?
We would imagine that as with Novos, for most Northumberland clubs one of the main sources of income is bar takings on match days, where home fixtures of whatever level will provide more income than away games. It is not uncommon for us at Novos to have Saturdays where all games are played away from home. For some clubs, bar income through the season is essential to them surviving the summer. Collectively, we need to be increasing the number of games being played, reversing the trend of many, many years.
To summarise OUR views, league rugby in its current format is detrimental, both to the league standing of the majority of clubs in Northumberland and Durham, and also to the overall state of our clubs and the sport in this region. Something must change to ensure the future of the sport in the far north-east of England. What exactly those changes might be, we do not know. However, as with the RFU ACR, nothing should be off the table, in order to increase participation in senior men’s rugby, both the number of active players, numbers of teams, and the number of fixtures fulfilled.  There needs to be less league rugby at the lower levels (1st XV AND below) and less travel, with increased opportunity for meaningful local friendlies / merit games; the challenge is how to achieve this.
We can take a steer from the RFU Regulation 13, specifically 13.2.4 a and b:
13.2.4 a)
(viii) at Level 7 in the North Division four leagues each comprising 14 Clubs; (D&N 1 must have 14 clubs)
(x) at Level 8 and below such number of leagues comprising such numbers of Clubs or teams as have been approved by the Committee. (D&N 2 and below, we can organise locally?)
13.2.4 b)
(iii) at Level 8 and below 1st XV, 2nd XV, 3rd XV teams etc., may, subject to Regulation 13.2.4(b)(iv) below, be permitted to play together in the leagues with the consent of the Clubs, Constituent Bodies and Divisional Organising Committees involved; (iv) teams from the same Club shall not be permitted to play together in the same league;
There are precedents in other areas of the country;
13.2.4 a)
(vii) at Level 7 in the London & South East Division and Midlands Division eight leagues each comprising 12 clubs; (presumably this was voted for by those areas, the North must have voted to keep 14?)
Solutions could perhaps include reduced league sizes at D&N tiers (2 and below), or retaining the same league sizes but playing only home or away? Based upon the information in this report, can we revisit the decision to keep leagues at 14 at level 7? What might meaningful local friendlies look like? What might merit tables look like to include most if not all club sides, of all levels?

1   For Northumberland Rugby Union Board and Competitions Committee to receive this report;
2   Through the NRU Strategic Plan, consider this report and its methodology as a practical means of measuring how our clubs perform each season, and over time;
3   NRU Board to use this information to consult with Northumberland clubs, and with Durham Rugby Union about the state of rugby union in our 2 counties, especially in respect of the reduction in clubs playing league rugby above the D&N tier;
4   Give consideration to a club summit for all clubs in Northumberland and Durham; present these findings, and seek solutions to address the future of our game;
5   As with the RFU ACR (2014), please keep everything on the table; discount nothing.

Graham Ward, Chris Ward, Novocastrians RFC (our personal views)
(Graham Ward will be away on holiday for the May General Committee meeting)

APPENDIX A      Base figures for Northumberland clubs
Club   1987-88   1991-92   1996-97   2001-02   2006-07   2011-12   2016-17   Difference
Newcastle    0.168   0.124   0.091   0.056   0.078   0.098   0.065   0.103
Northern   0.313   0.379   0.497   0.579   0.716   0.631   0.683   -0.37
Tynedale   0.405   0.394   0.392   0.29   0.379   0.287   0.366   0.039
Alnwick   0.481   0.518   0.489   0.542   0.733   0.705   0.593   -0.112

Morpeth   0.565   0.577   0.552   0.514   0.647   0.664   0.634   -0.069

Novocastrians   0.618   0.613   0.811   0.841   0.819   0.803   0.772   -0.154

Blyth   0.702   0.657   0.755   0.813   0.887   0.811   0.886   -0.184

Rockcliff   0.709   0.693   0.748   0.822   0.853   0.836   0.813   -0.104

Ponteland   0.718   0.839   0.853   0.86   0.741   0.779   0.805   -0.087

Ashington   0.725   0.701   0.636   0.617   0.862   0.795   0.87   -0.145

Seghill   0.74   0.745   0.909   0.888   0.974   0.984   0.951   -0.211

Percy Park   0.779   0.788   0.566   0.636   0.681   0.59   0.618   0.161

Wallsend   0.832   0.876   0.881   0.757   0.802   0.885   0.935   -0.103

Medicals   0.839   0.847   0.79   0.804   0.905   0.738   0.756   0.083

North Shields   0.924   0.883   0.783   0.748   0.793   0.893   0.854   0.07

Prudhoe   0.954   0.978   1         0.918   0.967   -0.013

Gosforth         0.958   0.673   0.776   0.754   0.748   0.21

Team Northumbria                  0.689      

APPENDIX A      Base figures for Durham clubs
Club   1987-88   1991-92   1996-97   2001-02   2006-07   2011-12   2016-17   Difference

West Hartlepool   0.199   0.102   0.077   0.374   0.612   0.508   0.585   -0.386

Durham City   0.29   0.358   0.546   0.626   0.664   0.639   0.659   -0.369

Hartlepool Rovers   0.42   0.423   0.608   0.654   0.655   0.721   0.764   -0.344

Gateshead   0.55   0.599   0.601   0.682   0.698   0.68   0.732   -0.182

SS Westoe   0.588   0.679   0.643   0.523   0.509   0.385   0.691   -0.103

Blaydon   0.603   0.562   0.483   0.308   0.371   0.254   0.309   0.294

Stockton   0.626   0.438   0.406   0.551   0.767   0.713   0.74   -0.114

Ryton   0.672   0.737   0.769   0.692   0.759   0.787   0.789   -0.127

Darlington   0.733   0.76   0.692   0.411   0.466   0.697   0.829   -0.096

Horden   0.763   0.708   0.587   0.608   0.672   0.73   0.724   0.039

Winlaton   0.771   0.825   0.804   0.71   0.845   0.861   0.862   -0.091

D Mowden Park   0.786   0.73   0.657   0.299   0.431   0.467   0.268   0.518

Hartlepool     0.794   0.781   0.825   0.729   0.931   0.869   0.781   0.013

Bishop Auckland   0.802   0.723   0.797   0.869   0.94   0.853   0.837   -0.035

Sunderland   0.809   0.774   0.713   0.776   0.707   0.771   0.846   -0.037

Consett   0.817   0.766   0.832   0.701   0.785   0.82   0.707   0.11

Seaham   0.824   0.81   0.923   0.972   1   0.926   0.976   -0.152

North Durham   0.847   0.832   0.839               

Hartlepool BBOB   0.855   0.942   0.944   0.963   0.948   0.975   1   -0.145

Houghton   0.863   0.891   0.93   0.738   0.871   0.943   0.943   0.08

Billingham   0.878   0.898   0.902   0.645   0.724   0.582   0.488   0.39

Seaton Carew   0.893   0.854   0.867   0.832   0.897   0.844   0.902   -0.009

Wearside   0.901   0.92   0.951   0.897            

Chester le Street   0.908   0.869   0.86   0.879   0.957   0.967   0.959   -0.051

Darlington RA   

West Hartlepool TDSOB   0.931   0.818   0.664   0.81         0.96   -0.029

Washington   0.939   0.985   0.979               

South Shields   0.962   0.905   0.874   0.944   0.983   1   0.894   0.068

Barnard Castle   0.97   0.861   0.846   0.785   0.914   0.828   0.699   0.171

Jarrovians   0.985   0.949   0.972   0.916      0.959   0.984   0.001

Civil Service Durham   0.992                     

Newton Aycliffe   1   0.934   0.993   0.935      0.934   0.911   0.089

Sedgefield      0.956   0.937         0.951   0.878   0.078

Hartlepool Athletic      1   0.965   0.981   0.966         

Durham Police      0.964   0.986   1            

Shildon      0.993      0.991            

West Hartlepool Amateurs         0.907            

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 12:25:44 PM »
Unfortunately you can't see the graphs and tables which make it much easier to understand the deterioration of league standings. In addition, the table formatting at the bottom is a little bit tougher to read.

Please let me know your thoughts.

How Northumberland (and Durham) rugby union clubs have fared from 30 years of league rugby


It is perhaps fitting that this report is produced at the end of the 2017-18 season; the first bad winter for many years, and also a season in which a number of Northumberland clubs are struggling in their leagues.
This information was first collected during the 2016-17 season, but had not yet been reported upon. It is now very timely, with the potential for this report to provide a meaningful system of measurement for the Northumberland Rugby Union Strategic Plan (NRU SP), allowing comparison over time on the performance of Northumberland (and Durham) clubs in the national league pyramid. We are able to look at how 30 years of league rugby affected individual clubs, and also how the overall standing of the two counties has changed.
It should be made clear, that the views held in this report, are those of Graham and Chris Ward (both Novocastrians RFC), and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Novos as a club. We carried out the research after many, many conversations where we discussed how league rugby has affected the game in the North East on many fronts; how different fixtures are now compared to the playing of rugby both before and during the earlier years of league rugby, how fewer fixtures are played, and potentially how income and expenditure are affected by the requirements of league rugby.
We do hark back to an era – not too long ago, when club first teams had fixtures on every Saturday of the season, and where for most clubs, meaningful local friendlies took place. We make our own conclusions and recommendations to Northumberland Board and Competitions Committee.


The inaugural league season was in 1987-88, when fixtures were played either home or away. In the pyramid of leagues that Northumberland and Durham clubs are part of, there were 12 leagues in that first season, through National 1, 2 and 3, Area North, North 1 and 2, North East 1 and 2, then D&N 1, 2, 3 and 4. The national leagues each had 12 teams; the rest of the leagues had 11 teams, with 10 in D&N3 and 8 in D&N 4. In total, there were 131 clubs in our pyramid.
There have been a number of restructures over the years, leading to frequent changes in the number of clubs in our pyramid. These changes mean that it is not straightforward in making simple comparisons over time as to how individual clubs have progressed.
Season 93-94 saw the introduction of home AND away games in the National League set-up (Nat 1- Nat 4).
1996-97, the season which saw the advent of the professional era, also brought home AND away games into the entire league structure.
We sourced most of the Rothmans Year Books covering most of the league seasons, until the start of computerised league records being held by the RFU. At 7 regular points across the last 3 decades, we plotted where each Northumberland and Durham clubs were in relation to the pyramid. Given the regular changes in structure / pyramid size, we decided that the best way to enable comparison was to allocate the actual finishing position a ratio.
For example, in a pyramid of 100, the top of the Premiership is 1/100 = 0.01, and the bottom of D&N3 is 100/100 = 1.0. A club halfway, i.e. 50/100 = 0.5.
In a pyramid of 125, the top is 1/125 = 0.008, bottom is 125/125 so still 1.0, but the team in 50th position, 50/125 = 0.4. The middle of the pyramid is now 62nd position.
Using the ratio at the 7 points in time, allows us to see where each of the clubs in the two counties are in the structure and whether they have moved up, down or stayed the same in relation to clubs in Durham and Northumberland, the North East, the North, and nationally, regardless of how many leagues there are, and how many clubs there are in each league at each point in time. The lower the ratio, the higher a club is up the pyramid.


Season 1990-91 saw the first reorganisation, just at National Level. This saw the top 4 tiers increase in size from 12 to 13. “Gosforth [sic] escaped relegation to Division 3 because there was none. The size of national divisions is increased for 1990-91, so Gosforth remained in Division 2” (Rothmans RU Year Book 1990-91). This was the first of many restructures which would have a knock-on effect throughout the league pyramid, where a number of teams who should have been relegated, avoided so.
This has been repeated on a number of occasions since (too many to mention), where teams have either been promoted or relegated as a direct result of changes in the pyramid, with the number of clubs in leagues increasing or decreasing, or the actual number of leagues changing. Similarly for Northumberland and Durham clubs, relegation when not expected can follow the movement of Yorkshire clubs into or out of our local D&N leagues. Most recently, at the end of season 2016-17, Blyth who had finished 3rd bottom of D&N 2 were relegated to D&N 3 as a result of Acklam moving back into our pyramid from Yorkshire, although geographically in Yorkshire. A significant number of Yorkshire clubs are, and have been in D&N leagues over the years.
These changes have affected the number of clubs in our league pyramid, hence the methodology outlined above, as we are not exactly matching like with like. Across the 7 seasons that form our analysis, our pyramid is as follows:
1987-88   131 clubs across 12 tiers
1991-92   137 clubs across 12 tiers
1996-97   143 clubs across 13 tiers
2001-02   107 clubs across 10 tiers
2006-07   116 clubs across 9 tiers
2011-12   122 clubs across 9 tiers
2016-17   123 clubs across 9 tiers

The various changes to league arrangements, have led to massive change in how club 1st XV rugby is organised, countrywide. In the inaugural season, with clubs playing each other either home OR away, clubs played a maximum of 11 league games; the majority played 10. Thirty years on, all league rugby is home AND away, and with variance of league sizes, there is now between 22 and 30 league games.


TOP 50% OF THE PYRAMID, 1987-88
In the inaugural league season of 1987-88, Northumberland had 4 clubs in the top 50% of the pyramids; Gosforth (now Newcastle Falcons 0.168), Northern (0.313), Tynedale (0.405) and Alnwick (0.481), in that order.

Durham had 3 clubs in the top 50%; West Hartlepool (0.199), Durham City (0.29), and Hartlepool Rovers (0.42).
This point will be repeated regularly, that with the many changes to league structures, we are not comparing like with like. In that first season, there were 6 tiers above the North-East leagues, and Alnwick who finished 5th in North 2, were the lowest of the 7 D&N clubs who finished in the top 50% of the pyramid.


Then came North-East 1 and 2, both of which contained 4 D&N clubs, then the local Durham and Northumberland Leagues 1-4.
Overall, there were 15 clubs from Northumberland and Durham who were in leagues above the D&N tiers; 7 from Northumberland and 8 from Durham.


Top of D&N1 that year (Blyth) were placed at 0.702 in the pyramid. In total, there were 40 clubs in the D&N leagues, of which 6 were from North Yorkshire (Acklam, Redcar, Whitby, Guisborough, Wensleydale and Richmonshire). In all leagues that season, there were 17 Northumberland clubs and 32 Durham clubs.

Whilst there are a number of individual club stories to tell, and with 7 points in time across the 30 years to look at, it is perhaps a direct comparison of where the Northumberland (and Durham clubs) finished in 2016-17, which gives the most immediate comparison of like with like.

TOP 50% OF THE PYRAMID, 2016-17

From 7 clubs in the top 50% of the pyramid in that first season, there were just 5 clubs who finished in the top half in the most recently completed season. In order, they were Newcastle Falcons (0.065), Darlington Mowden Park (0.268), Blaydon (0.309), Tynedale (0.366) and Billingham (0.488).

From Northumberland, the Falcons and Tynedale have remained stable, but Northern and Alnwick dropped out. Very interestingly for Durham, all of the previous 3 in the top 50% have dropped out, replaced by 3 clubs who have made significant strides up the leagues.

With restructures, there was now only 1 league between the National leagues and the D&N Leagues; North 1 East. With 5 clubs from Northumberland and Durham in this league in 2016-17, the numbers playing above the D&N league structure had now reduced from 15 (in 1987-88) to just 10. Previously 7 Northumberland clubs (1987-88) there were now 5, and previously 8 Durham clubs was also now 5.

Top of D&N 1 in 2016-17 (Northern) were placed at 0.683 in the pyramid (0.702 in first season). As with that first year, there were still 40 clubs in the 3 D&N leagues, including 4 from North Yorkshire (Middlesbrough, Redcar, Whitby and Richmondshire). In all leagues last season, there were still 17 Northumberland clubs, but 29 Durham clubs, down from 32.

CHANGES FROM 1987-88 TO 2016-17
There are some clubs from both counties which have seen improvements in their standing in the pyramid; for some very significant. There are however, far more clubs which have seen their standing deteriorate, again for some very significantly. By using the ratio of a club’s standing in the pyramid at different points, we can show the percentage change +/- for each club.
6 Northumberland clubs have improved their standing: Falcons (10.3%), Tynedale (3.9%), Percy Park (16.1%), Medicals (8.3%), North Shields (7%) and Gosforth – who reformed in 1996-7 (21%).

 All of the other Northumberland clubs have seen their standings decrease: Northern (37%), Alnwick (11.1%), Morpeth (6.9%), Novos (15.4%), Blyth (18.4%), WB Rockliff (10.4%), Ponteland (8.7%), Ashington (14.5%), Seghill (21.1%), Wallsend (10.3%) and Prudhoe & Stocksfield (1.3%).

 In Durham, there are similar differences in standings. The most significant improvements are:
Blaydon (29.4%), DMP (51.8%), Billingham (39%) and Consett (11%).

The most significant deteriorations are: West Hartlepool (38.6%), Durham City (36.9%), Hartlepool Rovers (34.4%) and Gateshead (who also merged with North Durham - 18.2%).

There will be many and varied reasons for what has happened to each club over the 30 years. Without passing comment, it is noticeable however that where the biggest changes have happened, for many of the clubs (predominantly Durham), the spending of money in pursuit of league status has been a significant factor.


As we write (16.4.18), the season is drawing to a (very late) close, due to the severe and prolonged winter. As with all seasons, clubs continue to move up and down the structure.

Both Newcastle Falcons and Tynedale have again had good seasons; Newcastle will have their highest finish since winning the title in 1998. Fingers crossed, Alnwick will be promoted from North 1 East; Morpeth have also had a good season in this league. In D&N 2, WB Rockliff are still in with a chance of being promoted in 2nd position, however their league season will continue until May 12th.

These are the good news stories for Northumberland. Yesterday, it was confirmed that Northern (and West Hartlepool) have been relegated from North 1 East. It looks like Percy Park need to win both their last 2 games if they are to avoid the same fate, but even this might not guarantee their status.

In the next league down (D&N1), only 4 of the 14 teams are Northumberland clubs, and currently they are all in the bottom 5 positions. Whilst Redcar (a Yorkshire club) are already relegated, a minimum of 1 Northumberland club will be relegated. Depending on what happens in North 1 East and any possible sideways moves to / from Yorkshire leagues, another Northumberland club could also drop down. Gosforth, Ponteland and Medicals are all at risk.

There will be 1 Durham club promoted from D&N1, and depending on how the play-off against Yorkshire 1 goes, potentially a second. The promoted club(s) will come from Durham City, Barnard Castle, Consett and Westoe.

Under a possible scenario of Alnwick being promoted from North 1 East, and only 1 Durham club being promoted from D&N1, then North 1 East will have only Morpeth and the Durham club as local clubs in the league; the other 12 will be from Yorkshire. That would mean that only 8 Northumberland and Durham clubs were in leagues above the D&N tiers, 4 from each county. A very sad situation. Should this occur, Alnwick’s nearest away game of 13 will be at Billingham. Morpeth too will have very difficult and expensive travel commitments. Truly, they will both be geographically challenged (we will come back to this phrase later).

There will be many different views about how to read league standings, and at what level clubs want to be playing their league rugby. What these figures show however, is that overall, since the inception of league rugby, there has been a significant erosion of the overall, relative strength of Northumberland (and Durham) clubs.

Having this information, what do we want to do with it, if anything?

HOW CLUB 1st XV (and junior teams) RUGBY HAS CHANGED
Prior to, and during the early years of league rugby, virtually all clubs would have 1st XV fixtures on every Saturday of the season. Before the introduction of leagues, matches might have been classed as ‘friendlies’ or as ‘merit table’ fixtures. Additionally, for part of this period, Northumberland County also played Senior Cup fixtures midweek. The matches that most of our clubs used to have, included many long-standing, traditional fixtures. It was common-place for clubs to play all of their fixtures on any given day, against the same club. For example, Morpeth v Novos might have 3 games on at Morpeth (1st, 3rd and 5th XV), and 3 on at Novos (2nd, 4th and 6th XV). Both clubhouses would be full for many hours after the games, with many players and supporters spending money over both home and away bars.
The tables below, show Novos’ completed 1st XV fixtures from the season before, and the first season of league rugby. Our fixture list is now incredibly different - and didn’t we do quite well back then – possibly something to do with Jim Pollock joining the police in 1986, and coming back to Novos from Gosforth!
Season 1986-87               Season 1987-88         
Seghill   44   12   W      Seghill   26   6   W
Tynedale   12   9   W      Tynedale   3   10   L
Horden   13   13   D      Northern   4   34   L
Carlisle   23   13   W      Ryton                L   6   0   W
Hartlepool   25   16   W      Stockton           L   10   9   W
Nth Durham   16   0   W   Hartlepool   27   21   W
Ripon   13   3   W      York                   L   10   4   W
Northallerton   22   7   W   Ncle UniversityL   16   12   W
Penrith   7   9   L      Beverley           L   15   13   W
Scarborough   44   3   W   Penrith   15   6   W
Winlaton   10   7   W      Barnsley           L   16   4   W
Blaydon   11   6   W      Selby                 L   6   3   W
Ryton   23   0   W      Winlaton   13   7   W
Percy Park   21   7   W      Ripon   10   6   W
Medicals   52   3   W      Darlington   7   3   W
Stockton   9   14   L      Medicals   15   13   W
Ashington   17   3   W      Ashington   13   14   L
Currie   17   10   W      Gateshead Fell   16   16   D
Morpeth   10   13   L      Morpeth   12   14   L
Westoe   12   9   W      Westoe   18   14   W
Redcar   16   4   W      Gosforth   10   9   W
Rockcliff   22   9   W      Morpeth   9   14   L
Berwick   15   11   W      Old Hymerians L   16   7   W
Durham Univ   16   12   W   Wigton   23   10   W
Gosforth   4   12   L      Percy Park   34   7   W
N/cle University   25   6   W   Durham Univ   10   4   W
Redcar   13   0   W      Horden   16   6   W
Gateshead Fell   4   15   L   Alnwick   12   20   L
Darlington   9   16   L      Westoe   13   13   D
Sunderland   9   7   W   Carlisle   15   27   L
N/cle University   19   7   W   Pocklington   L   29   7   W
Northern   10   29   L      Blaydon   16   12   W
Leodiensians   3   4   L   Pontefract     L   13   13   D
Seghill   38   11   W      Ashington   7   9   L
Mowden Park   38   13   W   H'pool Rovers   23   17   W
               Wasps II   16   32   L
               Leodiensians   52   0   W
               Seghill   22   9   W
               Mowden Park   23   6   W
               Redcar   15   9   W

For season 2017-18 for Novos, our 1st XV fixtures included 1 warm-up game, the 26 league fixtures, 3 cup dates, and 1 friendly between Christmas and New Year. 31 fixtures arranged for 37 Saturdays. It was common for there to be 38 1st XV fixtures per season, then cup matches.

As the number of league fixtures has increased, fixtures and numbers of games for most clubs has changed significantly. With rugby union being a winter sport, there is always the possibility of increasing numbers of league fixtures being postponed.  This has led to the need for a number of Saturdays after Christmas to be designated as ‘league free’ weekends; basically kept free for any re-arranged fixtures following a postponement. This has been the first winter for many years when this has actually been required in great numbers. To our knowledge, it is unusual if not rare, for any friendlies to be arranged on the league-free Saturdays.
Players’ attitudes have also changed with time. There is strong evidence that players now look for the league fixtures to come out, and then make alternative arrangements for non-league weekends, when invariably there are no 1st XV fixtures at all. This is perhaps difficult to understand for the older rugby players amongst us who wanted to play every Saturday. However given the intense nature of league rugby, it is perhaps understandable?

Example. On 24th February 2018 (originally scheduled as a league-free weekend – 6 Nations), Gosforth lost 123-0 to Westoe in a re-arranged fixture. Gosforth could only select a 1st XV squad from 17 players across the whole club; they wanted to fulfil the fixture so as not to be deducted 5 points in the league system and an increased risk of relegation to D&N2.

So far, this report has concentrated just on 1st XV fixtures and league standings. However, as most people reading this report will be only too aware, there has been considerable change (for the worse) at all levels of club rugby. In 2014, the RFU published their wide-ranging Adult Competition Review. That report will again be well known by those reading this report. Rather than going into any detail on it, we include this segment as it relates to the playing of all club rugby and significantly includes some very pertinent information on Morpeth RFC.

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 12:16:49 PM »
Guv, if you were at the NRU Committee Meeting last night any news re the Level Transfer decision?

Nope. TBC

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 12:15:36 PM »
I can't disagree with Badger that several contributors seem to favour smaller, more localised leagues.  And the proposal that Mr Hall, repeatedly, keeps bringing up is based on the RFU initiative of only 2 year's ago.  However this was rejected by a majority of northern clubs and is not, realistically, going to happen any time soon.

Incorrect. It was a cabal of senior Yorkshire clubs that stopped it going through
; it was to do with lost sponsorship revenue at games! No consideration for the players whatsoever.

I presented my findings to NRU General Committee yesterday night and it seems there is a desire for change. I’m hoping an open forum for clubs, players and administrators  in Durham and Northumberland will be the next step. I’m happy to circulate my findings on here, if people are keen to read it.

We might have to disagree on your assessment here Guv.  Below is a summary of the Northern Action Group's findings when they canvassed clubs right across the North about reducing from or increasing to 14 team Leagues.  The detail is here    http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/valeoflunerufc/news/the-rfu-adult-review-1365258.html

"Summary to date from the analysis of the above figures and involving the main sheets as attached.

Need to retain 14 Team Leagues   86%

Don’t support the Adult Review   80%

Players need to stay at 14   87%

Need for 12 team Leagues to move to 14   88%"

I would welcome sight of your findings

It was all to be agreed, however at an RFU meeting the large Yorkshire clubs (Otley, Harrogate etc) started the drive to reject the RFU proposal. Other clubs then followed suit.

Also bear mind, this was club administrators that voted; many (if any?) clubs did not canvass views from their players.

I agree with your point however, that when the Review WAS rejected. 4 years is a long time mind you! We've already got Sturgeon wanting another Scottish referendum, why can't we change our minds on the league structure...?

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 22, 2018, 10:26:55 AM »
I can't disagree with Badger that several contributors seem to favour smaller, more localised leagues.  And the proposal that Mr Hall, repeatedly, keeps bringing up is based on the RFU initiative of only 2 year's ago.  However this was rejected by a majority of northern clubs and is not, realistically, going to happen any time soon.

Incorrect. It was a cabal of senior Yorkshire clubs that stopped it going through; it was to do with lost sponsorship revenue at games! No consideration for the players whatsoever.

I presented my findings to NRU General Committee yesterday night and it seems there is a desire for change. I’m hoping an open forum for clubs, players and administrators  in Durham and Northumberland will be the next step. I’m happy to circulate my findings on here, if people are keen to read it.

Other Senior Rugby / Re: N'land Senior Cup
« on: May 20, 2018, 02:09:47 PM »
Interesting idea to play the Plate Final before Xmas.


Cup Draws Season 2018-19

Senior Cup

Quarter Final Round – to be played as pre season

Morpeth v Novos

Tynedale  v Alnwick

Northumbria University v Newcastle University

Percy Park  v Northern

Semi Final Round – on a date to suit teams involved once draw has taken place

Final – Easter Saturday (20th April) at venue to be confirmed


Senior Plate

Quarter Final Round – to be played as pre season (by 1st September)

Gosforth v Blyth

Ashington v North Shields

Whitley Bay Rockcliff v Ponteland

Medicals v Berwick

Semi Final Round – to be played on Saturday 15th September

Final – at Kingston Park 21st/22nd/23rd December

Dates - either Friday 21st December, Saturday 22nd December or Sunday 23rd December at Kingston Park.   Date to be determined once Falcons fixtures are released. 

Durham & Northumberland One / Re: DN1 Next Season
« on: May 20, 2018, 10:31:21 AM »
Not to mention that 24 clubs from Lancashire have officially left the RFU league system to set up their own regional leagues! (Clubs ranging from Level 7-9)

It’s a mess.

I’ve said for years we should either revert to the original set up in 1987 of 11 teams and you play 10 league games. Or we go for 10 teams and you play home and away. I’d rather play 18 fixtures, allowing time for friendlies against old friends, than play 26!

Durham & Northumberland Two / Re: Durham Cup final
« on: May 11, 2018, 08:08:34 PM »

Other Senior Rugby / Re: Lancashire leading the way?
« on: May 04, 2018, 03:30:58 PM »
If this does actually go ahead it will be fascinating!
Where do they get their refs from? What happens to the sides that would've been promoted and relegated - is the league ring-fenced? If so, it's a moderately high standard of Rugby now, but will good players want to continue to play in a closed-shop league?
Will the players be willing to play without RFU insurance? If insurance is to be sought independently, from whom? Will it cost individuals?
Who disciplines red carded players?
Will RFU youth coaches be forced to boycott the clubs?
Will they form their own Cup competitions, as they will no longer qualify for the Lancashire Cups?
Have they realised the full implications? I've thrown a few points out there off the top of my head, but there will be many more.

It’s an initiative being driven by Lancashire RFU. Those clubs wish to leave the league structure due to travel to Cumbria. I personally can see this working rather well. The ring fencing is a shame but I think most clubs will buy into it.

All clubs will still therefore be in the LRFU county cups etc.

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