FOOTBALL - Rugby Town set to remain in UCL structure next season with pre-season schedule announced - The Rugby Observer

FOOTBALL - Rugby Town set to remain in UCL structure next season with pre-season schedule announced

RUGBY Town are set to play in the United Counties structure for the fifth successive season according to provisional division listings.

Town have already begun planning for the 2022/23 campaign and have again been allocated a place in the UCL Premier Division South next season although that is subject to change with the division listings open to appeal before final ratification by the various leagues.

And the league looks set to be reduced to 18 teams, down from 20 last season, with promoted Harborough and Hinckley LR, relegated Northampton Chenecks and Peterborough NS joining transferred out duo Biggleswade and Potton as absentees from last year.

The new lineup sees March Town and MK Irish make a sideways move into the UCL, with Histon dropping down from the NPL to join the fifteen remaining incumbents.

Valley Director Neil Melvin said: “Travelwise, we’ve lost three nearby clubs, and got two trips into Cambridgeshire with March and Histon, although Biggleswade and Potton were two of our longer journeys.

“The lower fixture number means it’s even more important that we hit the ground running and get off to a good start.

“Nearly half of the league games we lost last season came within a 30-day period from the end of August which meant we were playing catch-up from then and we just gave ourselves too much to do.

“Hopefully in securing 10 of last year’s squad on season-long contracts we have a strong base to work from, and we’ll be looking to make a number quality additions to this over the coming weeks.”

The reduced team total means Rugby will only play 34 league games next season.

Melvin added: “It’s always hard to judge at this stage where the threat is going to come from.

“As we discovered last season there could be a surprise package like Harborough – who had been a mid-table proposition in previous years.

“Fortunately, we haven’t got a club in an upward trajectory like Hinckley, but we know Newport Pagnell will be tough opponents again – especially with the momentum and finances from their Vase victory last weekend, whilst both Coventry Sphinx and Wellingborough ended the last campaign in decent shape too.”

Valley’s provisional friendly fixtures are scheduled to start on July 7 with a trip to FC Stratford, with another away game four days later at Romulus.

Their first Butlin Road outing comes on July 16 when Town host Southern League Premier outfit Redditch United, before they travel to two other higher level sides Gresley and Bedworth the following week.

Rugby round-off their preparations with home matches against Pershore Town and old foes Shepshed on July 26 and 30 respectively.

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