YORK Acorn coach Josh Mortimer has given his backing to the National Conference League's decision to suspend their 2020 season and instead introduce regionalised group fixtures.

Sport across the country has come to a standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Late last month, the NCL made the decision to null and void the few league games played thus far, with no promotion or relegation across the league's four divisions.

When the government gives the go-ahead for mass gatherings to recommence and the country comes out of lockdown, whenever that may be, then regionalised group matches, culminating in a Championship Final, will take place.

“I think that it’s the right decision and I think that it’s the only decision that they could have made," said Mortimer.

“The earliest it looks like we may be able to play is around the end of July or early August.

"That really leaves us with two months left of what would have been our season.

“To make the competition regional, it gives you a chance to play teams that you might not usually play.
“And it gives you something a little bit competitive to play for at the end of the year and it gives the lads something to play for.

“I don’t think that they’re quite defined on the format just yet, but I’ve heard suggestions that it could be a round-robin and then you go into a knockout system off the back of that.

“And I think that there may be always something to play for at the end of it, whether that’s Cups, Plates or Shields.

“I think that’s the best way forward. If a team were to get promoted or relegated off the back of this season, they’d feel pretty hard done by. This way I think is the fairest."

Although no format has been officially confirmed, it looks likely that the fixtures could see local rivals Acorn and Heworth ARLFC pitted against one another.

“Obviously, they’re looking at trying to increase revenue streams for teams that might be struggling," added Mortimer.

“For example, if we were to play Heworth, that would be a great day for both clubs and it might recuperate some of the money that we’ve lost given that we’ve not been open for potentially six months.

“They’ve had a lot of work done on their clubhouse and, from what I’ve seen, it’s really improved it.

“They’ve got a good field with a nice little stand. It’ll be good for them to host a big event.

“Obviously, we’ve got a good clubhouse and changing room like we’ve always had and I’m confident a lot of people would come down for that.

“It would be good for either club if the game were to go ahead at either place."

The regionalised group fixtures also look as if they will give community clubs the opportunity to be involved in meaningful matches, in spite of the league season being over.

“You can’t play rugby league with nothing to play for," said Mortimer.

“You can’t play the sport half-heartedly or you’ll get hurt. You can’t have meaningless games.

“From my point of view, if it was going to be almost meaningless, it would give me an opportunity to look at other players that probably wouldn’t have had that chance.

“If there is a knockout competition or we’re playing in a local derby game, that will get the boys excited and wanting to come back to play in that."