CLUBS in the Aire-Wharfe League are to vote on whether they want to revert to first teams only playing against other first teams.

For the past three seasons, leading second teams have been eligible for promotion to face mainly other first teams in Division Three, while some first teams have been relegated to face a majority of second teams in Division Four.

However, the league’s executive committee, who have no strong feelings as to whether first teams should exclusively face first teams as happened before the 2018 campaign, want the theory to be put to the test.

After the topic was aired at the league’s council meeting at Otley RUFC, clubs will now vote on the issue at the league’s annual meeting at the same venue on Tuesday, November 23.

League secretary Matthew Grimes explained: “We have had a few clubs bringing this to us and we definitely feel that this is a matter for the clubs to look at.”

Pros for reverting to first v firsts and seconds v seconds are that second teams in Division Three would not be sapped by constantly fighting against relegation, and that teams would once again be more likely to use their second teams as a development tool.

Arguments against change include that second teams have shown themselves capable of playing against first teams and that cricketers should always aspire to playing at the highest level possible.

North Leeds and Tong Park Esholt’s second teams, promoted to Division Three for the 2019 campaign, finished seventh and eighth, with North Leeds ending 11th the half-season after, which was affected by Covid 19, with Tong Park Esholt finishing ninth.

Bottom of the table were Ilkley seconds, who had just been promoted.

This season, Rawdon seconds were eighth in Division Three, having been promoted from Division Four as champions in 2020, with North Leeds seconds 10th and Tong Park Esholt seconds 11th.

As for how first teams have fared in Division Four, Old Leodiensians were promoted as runners-up in 2019, while Shadwell were ninth, and Harden and Menston finished second and third in the truncated 2020 campaign, with Shadwell eighth. 

This season, Menston’s firsts won Division Four, ahead of Ilkley seconds, with Shadwell third. 

Other rule change proposals that will go forward to the annual meeting were that start times should be 12.30pm instead of 1pm; that live scoring will be used for all matches, with the home side being responsible; that Division Four matches should be 50 overs per side with leg-side wides; that no loan payers will be allowed for the last three matches of the season; and that the punishment for a lack of DBS checks be increased from two points to five points. 

Meanwhile, Leeds Modernians and Shadwell were automatically re-elected to the league as there were no other candidates.