It was a dark day last year when the Rugby Lions were forced to withdraw from the Midlands One East League for the 2021/22 season. It meant that the league had to proceed with only 13 teams, and to be brutally frank it managed just fine. The withdrawal, which came about due to a lack of available players, cast a doubt on whether the Lions would ever be seen again. After all, it is one thing keeping a team going from week to week, but relaunching from scratch is another matter. The possibility of Rugby without rugby was very real, so the news that the Lions will be back for the 2022/23 season is cause for celebration.
New season, new format
Everyone involved in the team has been working flat out to form a new squad to take the team forward into an exciting future without losing sight of the past and its 150 year history. Nobody is under any illusions, this will be a full reset and will mean starting from the bottom. It’s not just the team that is resetting either, as the whole league format is being revised for next season.
Rugby Lions will play in the new Counties 3 Midlands East-South Division, which will also feature Bedford Swifts, Brackley Deepings, Thorney, Stamford College Old Boys and South Leicester.
The exact format is yet to be confirmed, but for most, it is enough to know that rugby will be returning to Webb Ellis Road next season. The rumour is that as well as league games, there will also be some form of cup opportunity in the latter part of the season. This will add extra spice and incentive for both players and fans – further information on this will follow as soon as it becomes available.
A World Cup adventure
When the season comes to a close next year, let’s not forget there’s the small matter of a rugby World Cup. It will be hosted by France, and anyone considering travelling out to cheer on England and perhaps eyeing up the rugby betting odds for a small wager will have an extra incentive to make the trip.
The Lions have been invited to participate in a very special amateur rugby festival, which will take place in parallel to the professional tournament. The festival takes place in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, which will also bee hosting 10 world cup matches.
The Rugby Lions have been invited to represent England in the tournament, which will feature 20 teams split up into four groups with five teams in each. The Lions’ group will also feature teams representing Argentina, Japan, Samoa and the USA. The other clubs will be representing Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Portugal, New Zealand, Uruguay, Algeria, Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Chile, South Africa and Tonga.
Lions representative Mal Malik remarked that taking part in the tournament represents a “huge opportunity” for players and fans, and provides a “massive boost,” especially after the sad loss of chairman David Owen earlier this year.