Stuart Cameron looks at the new structure for club rugby

THE club rugby season will start later than last year with matches kicking off in the new RBS-sponsored competition on Saturday, August 27.

Once again we have the split after 11 matches ending on November 5 which will then see the top eight teams in Premier 1 going on to play each other in the final seven games which will start on January 14. This two-month break from league rugby should work better than last season because the final seven matches will be played over a tighter period, ending on March 24, to keep interest going.

The bottom four clubs in Premier 1 (as last season) will play in Premier B against the top four teams from Premier 2, with the bottom eight from Premier 2 fighting out Premier C, again as per last campaign.

Premier 3 teams will play against each other home and away, giving them 22 league fixtures – five more matches than the teams in Premiers 1 and 2.

There is just one National League this coming season instead of three, which means Hawick YM and Langholm are our only two representatives from the Borders. They will play 22 league fixtures through till March 1.

Berwick are now in East League Division 1 with Duns and Hawick Linden. There are 10 sides in this table with each playing the other to a conclusion on March 3.

There are eight sides in EL2 and EL3. Hawick Harlequins, Gala YM and Earlston are in the 2nd division. All teams will play each other home and away (14 games) ending on January 14. The next week the four top teams will split into East A while the bottom four will go into East B. These play-offs will allow the top four to play each other again home and away and the same will happen for the bottom four. The play-offs will end on March 24.

East League 3 sees the same thing happening – our local representatives are Walkerburn and St Boswells.

In 2012-13 there will be one Premier 1 league and one National League of 10 teams each. This means that the play-offs at the end of this coming season will see the top eight teams from Premier 1 retaining their places at the top table, but only the top two teams from the eight in Premier B guaranteed a place in the Premiership.

The remaining six from Premier B will go into the National League. The other four will come up from Premier C with the remainder dropping into the Championship (East) competition which will be one of two Championship leagues – the other being covered by the West region.

Below the Championship there will be (for our region) East League 1, East League 2 and two regionalised third divisions.