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Report calls for overhaul of English domestic game
ESPN Staff
April 8, 2014

The Rugby Football Union's council will listen to plans later this week which call for an overhaul of the lower leagues of English rugby.

The council meets on Thursday and will have presented to it a review chaired by RFU council member John Douglas which will put forward 20 recommendations to increase levels of grassroots participation and help the game grow amid pressure from other sports.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the report "unearthed significant concerns about both the extent and cost of current league structures and burnout because of the increased physicality of the game".

Recommendations include reducing the number of teams in National One (Level Three) and making the division below, currently National Two, more regionalised with the North and South leagues split into four divisions of 12 teams. According to the newspaper, National Three North and South would be split into eight leagues of 12 teams.

Another proposal will call for the introduction of rolling substitutions in the divisions below National One with an aim of prolonging careers and giving younger players more game time.

According to the newspaper, the review states: "It is vitally important we provide the club environment and the competitive rugby that these age groups want to play. The future success and viability of all our clubs is dependent on many things but attracting, retaining and growing the playing population in the face of competitive sport and leisure offerings is at the heart of it."

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