THIS season’s fixtures have been announced for the male WRU National Leagues.

The Leagues, which kick off from Saturday, November 13, for all divisions from Championship to Division Three, and December 11 for the Indigo Group Premiership, will be run on a home OR away basis this season.

In Divisions 1 – 3, League winners will be entered into play-offs to determine National Divisional Champions, while in the Championship and Indigo Group Premiership the top four teams will enter Championship or Premiership play-offs to determine the champion of their RESPECTIVE League.

In order to be fair to all during this one-off season as League rugby returns after an 18 month break, there will be no promotion or relegation this season.

The Modified Laws currently in place for WRU cup competitions will no longer be in place, providing public health conditions remain favourable.

WRU Community Director Geraint John said: “It’s great to be able to provide clarity for clubs with the release of fixtures for senior men’s Leagues. It takes us another big step forward on our Pathway to Participation and the news will hopefully encourage more players, coaches, referees and other volunteers back to the game after so much upheaval over the past 18 months due to the pandemic.

“Having a full fixture list will also help clubs off-the-field, enabling them to plan events around matches and encourage partners and sponsors to support them in their efforts.”

WRU chair Rob Butcher added, “We are very grateful to volunteers the length and breadth of the country for the hard work they have put in to help us stick to the timeline we set out for the return of rugby as we know it. It’s thanks to those volunteers and everyone within the game that we are currently ahead of that schedule. However, while the return of League rugby is almost upon us, we are all still experiencing many of the effects of the pandemic so in order to remain on course, and to keep everyone as safe as possible, it is important to stay vigilant and work within the guidelines and protocols that clubs, us as a governing body and the Welsh Government have put in place.”

Ebbw Vale head coach Greg Woods is undaunted by the prospect of taking on defending champions Merthyr on the opening day of action of the Indigo Group Premiership.

“We’re going to the champions and we’re also playing them away in the first game in the cup as well so that will be a good practise run really,” said an excited Woods.

“The league offers us the chance to get back and play against the sides that we wouldn’t have played in the Premiership Cup, so we’re particularly looking forward to playing the likes of Swansea, Bridgend, Aberavon, Carmarthen Quins etc, as it’s been a long time since we would have played them.

“We’ve also got an exciting fixture around Christmas with Newport for the Dragons region which is always a special time in the season so really looking forward to that one as well.”

Matthew Lewis, Brecon head coach is looking forward to testing his young squad in Division One East.

The current WRU Plate holders host Pontypool United on the opening weekend before travelling to Newbridge on the weekend of November 27. They then host Monmouth and travel to Brynmawr on the first two weekends in December.

Lewis, who was previously the club’s defence coach and took over the head coach role from Andy Powell in April said, “It will be tough to play Newbridge and Brynmawr away as they are certainly two of the toughest teams in the league along with Penallta. Having said that, many teams have changed dramatically in the past 18 months so we are entering the unknown in many ways.

“We have used the last year or so to build a young squad of local boys and things are going well. I’m confident we can aim for the top end of the League, hopefully the top three or four at least and we want to go as far as possible in the defence of our Plate title too.”