OTLEY Rugby Club are in uplifting spirits, in spite of the lack of clarity to when they will next take to the field.

It has been over eight months since the Zebras were last spotted at Cross Green. Since then the club have appointed a new head coach in Kyle Drench and seen themselves relegated from National League 2.

The now-North Premier side will not have an immediate chance of redemption either with the Rugby Football Union cancelling its 2020-21 men's leagues in the community game.

Otley had been training under the lights on Yarnbury's artificial pitch before the second lockdown hit, and director of rugby Peter Clegg could see the players were hungry to get going again.

He said: "We had been getting good numbers and doing lots of ball work in training. People were buying into it before we had to stop. The lads are raring to go once we get the okay.

"You can’t expect anything, you just have to hope that we can play some rugby early next year. There could be some form of rugby in February/March time.

"It (last season) has been and gone. We have put a quality squad together and our aim is to get back into the National League again."

Last week, the government announced a £300 million 'Winter Survival Package' for sport. Rugby union were the biggest winners capturing £135m which will largely be in the form of loans.

Of that sum, £44m will go to the RFU, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9m to clubs in the Championship and £23m to clubs below the Championship.

"It all depends how far it goes down," Clegg added.

"Everybody only seems to care about the Premiership, there will be clubs like Otley where the gate and bar revenue is fundamental to how they survive.

"Whether we can get back and generate crowds coming through the gate and the bar, that is the only way we can sustain Otley."

Nevertheless, the prospect of the club moving into their new home in less than two years took a recent stride forward.

The club issued this statement: "The decision to put the 1.5km East of Otley Relief Road out to tender brings Otley RUFC’s move to its new ground one step further.

"The target date for the raft of planning applications to be heard is now February/March 2021 and, allowing for any challenges, approval is expected in August/September 2021.

"We have been told the final accesses for the various business who be will along the relief road have yet to be finalised, although we should have a decision by Christmas. Until we have that information, we cannot submit our new application.

"You will recall the planners had concerns about the volume, height and visibility of the clubhouse in the previous application, as well as some design concerns.

"In the new year we will instruct Halliday Clark to submit a revised design to satisfy the planners that will get a recommendation for approval to secure the future of our rugby club.

"If all goes according to plan September 2022 should be the opening of the new ground."