RUGBY: Chippenham lifeline
HEAD coach Jason Forster guided Chippenham to one of their finest wins under his stewardship before throwing his weight behind calls for a rethink over the fate of the club’s second team.
As reported in the Gazette & Herald last week, the Allington Field club have made representations to the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and county officials over the rules that prevent their second string from rising higher than their current division of Dorset & Wilts One North.
Defending champions Chippenham have won 16 of their 17 games, averaging nearly 40 points a match, with Bath’s Combe Down the latest to cry off from a fixture against them last Saturday.
They will win the title with a bonus-point success at Bradford on Avon, or if nearest rivals Pewsey Vale fail to win, on Saturday but face the prospect of playing in the same division next season.
Forster, whose first team defeated title chasing Weston-super-Mare 37-24 in National Three South West on Saturday, said: “It’s the frustrating part of the bigger picture for the club. It feels like we’re getting penalised for success and it can’t be beneficial for our players.
“Hopefully the RFU and the Dorset & Wilts can work together. We can’t measure ourselves by putting big scores on teams and other clubs want to be competitive too.’’
The RFU has offered Chippenham a glimmer of hope by revealing that regional and county league level competitions were being reviewed.
A spokesman told the Gazette & Herald: “This policy is there to provide for integrity of competition, so that a club cannot have many teams in the league structure and move players between teams according to each team’s requirements.
“It aims to ensure that fewer clubs do not take up all the local players so that it ends up with a smaller number of clubs each with many teams in the league.
“However, the RFU is in the process of undertaking a major review of adult competitions at levels three and below. This includes looking at the provision of rugby for lower XVs such as Chippenham 2nd. A group has been established to focus on that specific area.’’