Oldham chief Chris Hamilton has welcomed the new Championship One format in which clubs will play four of their eight opponents three times.
As runners-up last season to promoted champions North Wales Crusaders, Scott Naylor’s men were unbeaten against those four clubs, dropping only one point short of a maximum 24 because Gloucester pulled off a surprise 24-24 draw at Whitebank in the penultimate game of the regular season.
“We will look at our ‘loop’ games and think they could have been worse, but at the same time there are going to be no easy games in this division,” said Hamilton.
“Two trips to London don’t come easy, while Gloucester drew here last season and Hemel gave us a terrific game before we took them 26-18.”
Oldham were in favour of retaining the Northern Rail Cup, which has been shelved for 2014, although it might be reintroduced in 2015.
“Once that decision was taken we needed more league games to compensate,” he added. “Clubs were given different options to consider.
“We needed at least four more games to make up for the four we lost in the Northern Rail pool rounds, and that’s how we came to end up with 20 league games, which is about right.”
He said the sport generally would start to look ahead to the next domestic campaign now that the World Cup was over and 2014 fixtures had been released.
“The new fixture list comes as a reality check for players who are already well into pre-season training and the date of the first game is something for them to focus on.
“Fans will be looking at what they perceive to be key games and making arrangements for trips, especially with all the travelling we have to do.
“From the club’s point of view, this particular fixture list looks good, not least because for the first time for a long time there is a pattern of alternate home and away games, which will be welcomed by supporters as well as the club.
“We have two home games on the trot in May and two consecutive away games in June, but apart from that we have the home-and-away sequence all season.”