LITTLEMORE RFC have started an intensive search for players after they were kicked out of their division.

The Oxfordshire side’s threadbare squad meant they could not fulfil six fixtures in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier this season, which saw their results expunged.

The league has not yet officially confirmed the decision to Oxfordshire RFU, but Littlemore have started a recruitment drive in the hope of contesting friendlies in the new year and playing competitively next season.

Captain Jason Chambers believes the club have not recovered from finishing bottom of Southern Counties North last year, which prompted a mass exodus.

He said: “It was way too big a jump in standards.

“We unfortunately lost a couple of players who retired or moved away from Oxford.

“Then we took a hammering every week, so people stopped enjoying it and it has just snowballed from there.”

Littlemore were docked five points for each game they cancelled this campaign, while they lost the four matches they did fulfil.

Their first team squad currently boasts just 22 players, with many of those unable to commit to being available every week.

To bolster their ranks, the club have coaxed people out of retirement and asked the opposition for spare players.

Chambers added: “We’ve tried to promote ourselves but I still feel a lot of people in Littlemore don’t know they’ve got a rugby club.”

Littlemore have increased their social media presence in a bid to attract players and are appealing to Oxford’s universities and nearby businesses.

They have also enlisted the help of legendary ex-Oxford University coach Lynn Evans, who founded the club in 1976.

The 81-year-old has come out of retirement to start a ‘resurrection programme’ at the club, but fears Littlemore are victims of a wider issue.

He said: “It’s a nationwide problem. Many clubs are struggling to field second teams or fulfil fixtures.”

Rob Walsh, Oxfordshire RFU’s chair of governance and safeguarding, is assisting with the push for new players.

He said: “We can’t afford to lose a community club in that area.

“Lynn has got an immense catchment. We’re trying to get guys who may come back to play rugby under him.

“Oxfordshire RFU will work very hard to make sure we get a team going.”

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier failed to respond to a request for comment.