Havant RFC fear losing their promotion-winning momentum after RFU ban league rugby until 2021
Jonathan Mangnall has been left disappointed by the RFU's decision to delay the restart of the new grassroots season until at least next January.
And the Havant RFC chairman believes the announcement deals a massive blow - in terms of players, spectators and commercially.
Teams outside of the Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s have been told they will not be returning to competitive action this year.
However, Mangnall had been hopeful lower level league action might have restarted by the end of October.
Those plans have now been scuppered, though.
'We were hoping to start a bit early than that (January),' admitted Mangnall.
‘It’s obviously very disappointing from a player point of view, spectator point of view and a commercial point of view.
‘Absolutely, that’s what the plan was initially (rugby to return this year).
‘It was going to be a slightly different structure to our league so it was going to be split into geographical areas initially so we could limit the amount of travelling.
‘Obviously things change and we’ve got to follow the guidelines put in front of us.
‘It’s disappointing for everyone, but it’s hitting us in all walks of life.'
Havant were flying when the London One South season was brought to a halt in March.
Despite a premature end to the season, they were still crowned champions and promoted back to London South East Premier.
But with a 10-month break between competitive matches - should the new campaign actually begin in January - Mangnall is concerned momentum from a promotion-winning season may be lost.
‘The guys have been training for quite a while now with an anticipation of starting at the back end of October,’ he said.
‘We’re probably a very fit squad and we’re chomping at the bit.
'They’ve probably been back for six to eight weeks in various guises (players training).
‘That’s within the RFU return to rugby roadmap.
‘The academy and the ladies have been back in force.
‘Everyone is really gunning for it as we really had a successful season last season.
'Everyone is just excited to get back into it, everyone wants to prove themselves at the next level.
‘I know, from what I’ve seen and heard, the fitness levels are as high as they’ve been for lots of the squad.
‘It’s difficult to keep that momentum going now.'