Bedford Blues will be back at Goldington Road in the new year after the Rugby Championship announced a return date of Saturday 6th March with a revised league format.
The division will be split in half, with two separate conferences of six teams competing for a place in a two-legged playoff final with the winner gaining promotion to the Gallagher Premiership.
The Blues have avoided Owen Farrell’s Saracens – who were relegated to the Championship following a salary cap breach last season – as Mike Rayer’s Blues are one of the six teams in Conference ‘B’.
They are joined by the dangerous Ealing Trailfinders, Coventry, Nottingham, Doncaster Knights and new boys Richmond who were promoted from National League 1 last term and replace Yorkshire Carnegie.
Conference ‘A’ consists of former European Champions, Saracens, Cornish Pirates, Jersey Reds, London Scottish, Hartpury and nearby rivals, Ampthill.
The sides will play ten pool games; home and away against each of the other five sides in their conference in ten rounds of league action.
There had been hopes that Championship rugby would begin in January, but the latest lockdown has put paid to that idea, with clubs not wanting to return earlier with adapted laws.
There are still hurdles to jump however, with most clubs unable to meet the costs of the regular COVID-19 testing required for elite sport to continue, having received no income since March.
And while the league now has a solid start date, there is still a distinct possibility that fans will not be able to attend.
With this in mind, Bedford Blues are hoping to stream as many matches as possible, with all home games to be made available to watch online.
Whether fans will be able to attend or not, the return of competitive rugby is sure to be welcomed by the rugby community in Bedford, with a real chance of a showpiece final at the end of it.