TAUNTON Titans face a full season without any competitive rugby, after the National Clubs Association (NCA) announced the cancellation of the cup competition which was intended to start in February 2021.

With league rugby ruled out by Covid-19 restrictions, the NCA proposed a cup competition for 44 teams, with Taunton to face Barnstaple, Clifton, Dings Crusaders, Plymouth Albion and Redruth in the regionalised group stage.

However, following a series of meetings this week involving all 48 clubs in the NCA, there was unanimous agreement that there would be insufficient time to stage an authentic competition, given the continued uncertainty over when training and playing will be allowed post-lockdown.

It means that there will be no official competitive rugby for the semi-professional game in the 2020/21 season, and Taunton's long wait for a fixture goes on.

The Titans last played on March 14, 2020, when a 48-10 victory over Esher left them top of the National 2 South standings - and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) best playing record formula saw them promoted to National 1, in spite of the pandemic preventing the 2019/20 season from being finished.

NCA chairman John Inverdale commented: ‘With every re-tiering and subsequent tightening of restrictions, it was getting harder to envisage the NCA cup getting off the ground.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we’ve made the call because there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the idea, but ultimately we’ve had to concede defeat.”

Clubs will be free to play friendlies as and when restrictions are lifted, though, and the NCA said that several local hubs are already considering three or four-team tournaments to take place in April and May 2021.

Inverdale added: “It’s up to all our members to decide individually what they want to do.

“Some will shut up shop and prepare and hope for a September start next season.

"Others would like to play matches to satisfy the demands of their players, who are desperate to get back on the pitch, and their supporters who have been starved of going to their local club.”