OTLEY RUFC can finally look towards the future with some promise after it was confirmed they will be taking part in the newly created Ventur Cup.

The Zebras will be joined by local rivals Leeds Tykes, Wharfedale and Huddersfield in the “post-season” tournament designed to give players some time on the pitch before they begin their preparations for the 2021-22 season.

The competition is being sponsored by Leeds-based travel company Ventur who will be putting up a £10,000 prize fund which will be shared equally between the four clubs.

Each team will play one another home and away on Saturdays, starting on May 8, with games played under the RFU’s modified rules.

After round six, all four teams will compete in a finals day at Emerald Headingley on June 19. The top two teams will battle it out for the Ventur Cup while the remaining sides contest the Ventur Plate.

Ilkley boss Rhys Morgan believes the Cross Green outfit will be the dark horses. Otley chairman of rugby Peter Clegg is just relishing the opportunity for his players to get back out there.

He said: “Of course, if there is rugby to be had anywhere, we want to be in.

“After the disappointment of last season and where we ended up (suffering relegation from the National League 2 North), we want to get back. We have a strong squad.

“We’re close with the likes of Wharfedale and Huddersfield. And we’ve sat back and watched what’s been going on with Leeds over the years.

“We all want to have some games before the league programme starts up again. But we’ll be doing it only when we’re given permission and it is safe to do so. That is paramount.”

The tournament recently got a boost when the Government outlined a roadmap out of lockdown which allowed the RFU to publish their own return to rugby roadmap.

It states from March 29, clubs could host contact training, without scrums and mauls, and participate in touch and tag matches against other clubs.

Once April 26 comes games can then be played under the adopted rules (no scrums or mauls) which were used in that brief return at the end of last year.

The next three steps do not have strict dates as they are based on when the Government reaches Stage 3 in their own respected roadmap.

They do include full contact training and matches resuming, a fortnight between the pair, with scrums and mauls, before all restrictions being lifted when we are at Stage 4.

Clegg added: "As a club we are 100% behind it. You cannot be putting a roadmap down in six weeks' time, you have got to plan for it.

"If there is a chance of playing then we want to be in it. It is just making sure we are safe when we are going out and mixing.

"An awful lot of it is going to be subject to the Government. With schools going back this week, is there going to be any kickback from that?

"Players also work too and they won’t have been vaccinated by then. So, everything has got to be taken into consideration."