ILKLEY RFC are supporting RFU proposals to restructure the league pyramid.

The RFU proposals, which are intended to come into force for the 2021/22 season, would affect clubs from National League One and below.

The proposals call for a maximum of 14 teams in a league, which would reduce the number of games a season to 26. And it some leagues further down the pyramid, the number of league teams could drop to 12, which would mean 22 games per season.

They say a reduced some of games would be better for player welfare.

Ilkley play in the North Premier league, which has 14 teams who play 26 league games per season. Ilkley rugby chairman Andrew Munro said that fewer games could reduce the impact injuries have on clubs.

"Twenty-six games in a season is a lot, as league games seem to be a lot harder than they used to be," said Munro. "We had 23 players injured or unavailable last weekend and we played eight second team players in our first team. Having three or four rest weekends in a season is not enough for players to recover."

Leagues would also be more regional, which the RFU says would reduce the travel burden on players and supporters.

Munro said: "One of the main aim of these proposals is to reduce the amount of travel and make games more localised.

"This makes a lot of sense because one team in our league, Alnwick, is 30 miles away from the Scottish border. That's a long way to go."

Otley RUFC, who play in the 16-team National League Two North and have 30 league games per season, have come out in opposition to the RFU’s proposals for National League Two, which are:

Option 1: Three leagues of 14 – North, Central and South – a total of 42 teams at Level 4.

Option 2: Four leagues of 14, a total of 56 teams at Level 4.

Otley chairman Paul Mackie said the club would prefer to remain with the "status quo", but the RFU have insisted that this in not on option.

Reducing the number of games from 30 to 26 takes away two home games per season, which Mackie says would significantly impact revenues.

“Those 15 games at home are an opportunity to run our business," said Mackie, who added: "The quality of rugby would also be significantly reduced.

"I understand the issue about player welfare, but there aren't many players now who are able to play 30 games in a season."

Mackie also said that reducing the travel burden and bringing together more local clubs would increase competition for players, resulting in an increase in player wages.

"None of these factors will make a rugby club more sustainable and clubs will find it more difficult to survive,” he added.

One of Otley's long-time National League Two North rivals, Wharfedale, also oppose the restructure.

Wharfedale chairman Robert Fort said: “The RFU have been trying to do this for a few years, and their reasoning is that in the modern era, players are not prepared to commit to playing 30 matches in a season. There are fewer people and teams playing rugby than there were 10 to 20 years ago. It’s a societal change.”