CUMBRIAN rugby clubs are hopeful that they will be able to return to the pitch earlier than expected under a new scheme being proposed.

A plan is being developed to create a light contact league, similar in structure to the local derby, to potentially create small groups of clubs who can resume playing after Christmas.

Each group would contain six clubs in close proximity to one another, to minimize the amount of travel required, and create a new mini league.

Kendal Rugby club is expected to be paired with Kirkby Lonsdale, Blackburn, Preston, Rossendale, and Vale of Lune rugby clubs. This is dependent if all the clubs involved accept.

Kendal Rugby Chairman Stephen Green said: “We are very excited about this. Kendal have already accepted the proposal and I hope the others will as well.

“It would see each club playing both home and away games in a friendly league. At least it would get some Rugby back on.

“I’m very pleased with it. It’d be a great competition. A bit like the local derby by the sounds of it. I think there’ll be a real spectator interest.

“It’s been a pretty bleak year for all the clubs, so we’d jump at the chance to return.

“The planning process is still ongoing; it depends if the RFU and the Government come to an agreement. We expect to hear more from the others in the coming weeks.

“The end of January is hopefully going to be when we can get playing.

“We expect to hear on November 30

“Blackburn and Rossendale are in the highest tiers, but hopefully they’ll be out of their restrictions soon enough so they can join in.

“It would be competitive touch rugby in January, acting as a little warm up maybe, and some friendly touch games. There have been some trials in the north east about this and they were very successful.

“It’s stepping in the right direction for the sport.”