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Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket learn how RFU shake up will impact them

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Provisional plans have been drawn up by the RFU for a new-look pyramid that is set to affect Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket.

The game’s governing body announced in January it was planning an overhaul of the current system from Levels 3-6 in a bid to reduce travel and distance for teams.

It stated the new structure – due to be implemented from the start of next season – would be organised according to four core principals: Putting player welfare/needs at the forefront of decisions, ensuring a high quality of player experience, supporting club sustainability and minimising travel.

Bury St Edmunds will be playing in a new league next season. Picture: Mark Westley
Bury St Edmunds will be playing in a new league next season. Picture: Mark Westley

From Bury St Edmunds’ perspective, Level 3 is due to be expanded from two leagues to three.

Under the proposal, which was released based on how the league tables shaped up after March 5 fixtures, the Wolfpack would ply their trade in National 2B.

Current National League 2 South sides Esher, Worthing, Henley, Guernsey, Old Albanians, Barnes, Canterbury, Rochford Hundred and Westcliff would also be included, with Tonbridge Juddians being relegated into the division while Dorking and Sevenoaks would be elevated into it.

That would see Bury lose the lengthy journeys down to Clifton and Redruth – the latter are set to be promoted – while Midlands-based sides such as Leicester Lions and Hinckley would switch to National League 2A.

The make-up of the divisions could change slightly depending upon final league positions, with teams to be notified of their fixed places in May.

The RFU will aim to release the fixtures for 2022/23 campaign by mid-June.

Meanwhile, Bury’s hopes of matching or even bettering their best ever Level 3 league finish of sixth were dented by last weekend’s 47-34 defeat at Clifton.

The result has left seventh-placed Bury six points adrift of sixth-placed Leicester Lions, who have a game in hand, while the gap to Henley in fifth is eight points.

Bury return to home comforts tomorrow when head coach and director of rugby Jacob Ford will welcome his former side Westcliff to the GK IPA Haberden (3pm).

* Under the planned RFU restructure, Stowmarket are set to be promoted up to Level 6 into a league known as Regional 2F. They will join the likes of Southend Saxons, Colchester, Brentwood, Norwich, Chingford and Ipswich.