CLUBS are being asked to "think outside the box" in the Aire-Wharfe League when it comes to keeping player numbers high.

In an address to the league's council meeting at Otley RUFC, league secretary Dave Alred said: "The management committee are concerned with problems relating to the number of players within the league and at clubs, which is reducing year on year.

"The league had two clubs (Upper Wharfedale and Silsden) withdraw for season 2017.

"The number of teams with players short has increased slightly, while regrettably there were five forfeitures in second-XI matches - one was a First Division team, while two Third Division teams forfeited two matches each.

"In the third XIs, there were about a dozen forfeitures, and one club was withdrawn from the league after eight forfeitures.

"This is a sign of the times, and these matters will increase over the next few years.

"The league have 36 clubs to look after and not just one, and we must all look for the best for the league as a whole.

"Forfeitures and teams short can affect promotion and relegation within a division, and not just for the two teams involved in the match.

"It can also affect individual average winners and qualifications.

"Players short can affect points gained when batting in that there are more gaps in the field.

"We would ask that all clubs look outside the box, and to those players who follow on - what was best ten years ago is not right now, and what is right now will not be within the next few years."