Warren Spragg on National Leagues & Fylde in 2020-21 season

Andy Moore, Sports Editor of the Blackpool Gazette, asked Warren Spragg about his views on the implications of the prematurely ended 19-20 season and how that might effect Fylde. Reproduced courtesy of The Gazette.

Fylde RFC head coach Warren Spragg supports some promotion and relegation between the National Leagues but expects a further season in National Two North for his club.

The Rugby Football Union stopped the season for all clubs below Premiership level last Friday. For most clubs in the three National Leagues, that meant the campaign ended with five matches unplayed. The RFU is to announce next month which National League clubs, if any, are to be promoted and relegated.

In certain cases the arguments for clubs to change division are compelling. Canterbury and Hull Ionians have been relegated mathematically from National One, while Caldy are champions of Fylde’s league. Other issues are less cut and dried. Taunton lead Two South but three clubs could have overtaken them had the season been completed.

The third promotion place would normally go to the winners of a play-off between the runners-up in Two North and Two South, currently Fylde and Tonbridge – but there is no reasonable means of selecting one of those to go up without the play-off taking place.

Spragg supports some promotion and relegation ahead of 2020-21 and he told The Gazette: “I think that if teams have already been promoted or relegated, then that should be honoured, but there are some difficult decisions to be made.

“Nobody wants to restrict clubs’ opportunities and I’m sure clubs who really want a specific outcome will stake their claim. Scunthorpe are already relegated from our division and would probably welcome dropping down.

“Taunton could stake a claim for going up, but if the RFU say yes to Taunton, I’m sure there are three other clubs in Two South who would disagree.

“Preston Grasshoppers are almost down (one point from being mathematically relegated) but could make an argument for survival, so some tough decisions will need to be taken.”

Though not confirmed champions, Bournville are the runaway leaders of the Midlands Premier, so a sound argument could be made for them replacing winless Scunthorpe in Two North.

However, the Northern Premier is far closer. Five clubs could have finished top and leaders Blaydon have no clear advantage (Harrogate could have overtaken them by winning their game in hand), which could save Hoppers.

As far as Fylde are concerned, Spragg admits: “It is hard to justify second-placed teams changing leagues without a play-off.”

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