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Likes of Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Stowmarket and Ipswich learn their leagues after RFU restructure



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The Rugby Football Union has released the final details of how it has restructured the game at Levels 3-9.

The overhaul – the biggest undertaken by the governing body in 30 years – has been 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.

The 2022/23 season will also deliver a shortened league season, addressing concerns shared by players around the intensity of the current league structure, with each division also having its own cup competition.

Bury St Edmunds will play in the newly-named National 2 East league next season. Picture: Mark Westley
Bury St Edmunds will play in the newly-named National 2 East league next season. Picture: Mark Westley

Bury St Edmunds (Level 3) have been placed in the newly-named National 2 East division alongside plenty of familiar opposition, while the likes of Blackheath and North Walsham provide a fresh impetus. The lengthy trip to Guernsey still remains, but journeys down to the south west have been removed.

The club will also be pleased to learn that Bury St Edmunds II have been granted a place in Counties Eastern Counties I. First-team head coach and director of rugby Jacob Ford had previously spoken of his desire to get the second side into that level of rugby in order to expose the players to more competitive matches.

They will be joined by Thurston, who have been promoted after finishing fourth in London 3 Eastern Counties last term. Other local sides in the division include Ely Tigers – also promoted – and Diss, who played in London 2 North East during 2021/22.

A step up the ladder – in what has been called Regional 2 Anglia – are Stowmarket, who have been rewarded for the their third-placed finish in London 2 North East during the last campaign with promotion.

They are joined by fellow Suffolk outfit Ipswich, with the majority of the other teams in the league based in Essex.

That was the level Sudbury were playing at last term, but they are now one rung higher in the Regional 1 South East following their promotion from London 1 North.

Many of their trips next term will be down to Kent, although they have retained the derby with Colchester, which is set to be full of added spice following head coach Craig Burrows' recent defection to the Essex outfit.

Meanwhile, Sudbury II will come up against Newmarket, Ipswich II and Woodbridge in the Counties 2 Eastern Counties set-up.

All league seasons are set to get under way in September.