Bury St Edmunds set to take on Cambridge and Bishop's Stortford in the NCA Cup
Nick Wakley is eagerly anticipating being able to pit his Bury St Edmunds players against two National League 1 sides when they return to competitive action in the new year.
The National Clubs Association (NCA), who run their league, has announced the groupings of the NCA Cup, which replaces the usual divisions for the Covid-19 shortened 2020/21 campaign.
Bury have been placed in Group 6 alongside higher-league outfits Bishop’s Stortford and Cambridge, while also including their National League 2 South rivals Old Albanian and Westcliff.
There are 44 clubs who have opted into the replacement competition, which is due to get under way from January 28, with no promotion or relegation permutations.
All teams in the regionally-based groups will play each other home and away before separating into a knock-out competition with the other regional groups, based on their standings.
Bury’s director of rugby and head coach Wakley is pleased with the make-up of their group and is very much looking forward to what the adapted-contact matches can give his players ahead of 2021/22.
“What a brilliant set-up,” he said. “You have got the local derbies in there and there should be some really good games. It will be my first experience of the Bury-Cambridge derby and hopefully it will attract a lot of people to both clubs.
“The nearest we have come in my time in Nat 2 to a derby was Westcliff, which was an hour-and-a-half away, so to go 20 minutes down the road to test ourselves against a very well established higher-league outfit will be great.”
Cambridge had been ninth in the National 1 table and Bishop’s Stortford 12th when the 2019/20 season was halted prematurely due to the pandemic.
Wakley has said he sees the NCA Cup as a good way of building towards their intended promotion challenge next season.
Plans for his players to return in a 15-a-side match for the first time since March on Saturday, using the new adapted contact laws the RFU has put in place, were abandoned.
They are set to host North Walsham in a home friendly on January 9, which had orginially been planned for last weekend.