New England rugby will stage a third-grade competition this season after initially predicting there would not be enough players to do so.
New England Rugby Union president David Clifton confirmed that an "ad-hoc" third-grade comp, which may feature "four to five" of the seven clubs, would be staged.
The NERU is yet to receive official confirmation from clubs regarding the number of teams they will field. But Clifton said it was "really pleasing" that so many clubs were talking about having a third-grade side.
ALSO IN SPORT:
"It just shows that the strength of numbers this year is going to be fairly strong - we hope," he said.
Clifton said the third-grade competition would be as legitimate as the other comps, meaning premiers would be crowned.
Regarding its ad-hoc nature, he said: "If a club has a third-grade side and they would like to play, say the following Saturday, they would contact the other club [they are scheduled to meet] and make arrangements to do it."
Starting on July 25, the season will now feature first-, second- and third-grade premierships as well as a women's title race.