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Shipston promoted to Regional Two South Central following RFU restructure of community game

CHAIRMAN Andrew Powell says Shipston are relishing the challenge ahead after they were promoted to the highest level in their history following an RFU restructure of the community game.

Shipston have been promoted to Regional Two South Central. Photo: Mark Williamson F22/4/22/8589
Shipston have been promoted to Regional Two South Central. Photo: Mark Williamson F22/4/22/8589

After months of being in the dark over what league they’d be playing in for the 2022-23 season, the Rams finally have the answer to “the burning question on everyone’s lips”.

Despite finishing fourth in Southern Counties North, which sits at level seven on the rugby union pyramid, the Mayo Road club has been moved up to Regional Two South Central (level six).

Except for two journeys – Salisbury and Tottonians, near Southampton – Powell says that mileage to games is almost identical to last season. It’s an exciting time for the club as it now moves up to the highest level of rugby it has ever played at and for Powell, the promotion puts Shipston “on the map”.

“We’re really excited by the level six challenge and the prospect of visiting new clubs and making new friends, as well as renewing and reacquainting with some old ones,” he told the Herald.

“We know this news puts us on the map. We’ll be an unknown quantity but we will be putting player welfare on journeys uppermost and doing what we need for the fan base. We’ve already secured an additional physio to assist Chris Rowles given the extra rigours we will face.”

Powell added: “We’ve had nothing but enthusiasm and excitement from the supporters and club members regarding our promotion.”

The RFU restructured the community game to boost participation at levels three and below. Teams at a given level were grouped together geographically to reduce travel times and distance.

The season has also been shortened by the sport’s governing body to address concerns shared by players around the intensity of the current structure.

REGIONAL TWO SOUTH CENTRAL: Buckingham, Devizes, Grove, Marlborough, Newbury Blues, Reading, Salisbury, Shipston-on-Stour, Stow-on-the-Wold, Swindon, Tottonians, Witney.

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