Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Wales Wins Rugby League European Cup: Future Bright for Sport in Wales

A young inexperienced and significantly Welsh side beat Scotland, not so Scottish unfortunately, 28-16 in the final of the European Cup in Bridgend on Sunday 8th November 2009. This is a red letter day for the sport for many different reasons. Injuries had reduced the team to a mixture of young Welsh born players and more experienced grandparent rule guys committed to the Welsh cause.

The new management team of Iestyn Harris and Clive Griffiths have instilled a determination and commitment to attacking rugby league, designed to work to the strengths of Welsh rugby playing culture. The players have taken to this and have shown some steel in coming from behind for the second game in a row.

The rugby league authorities have put in place a more structured and long term international programme which if stuck by will see many dividends for the code. This year has been a ranking tournament. Unfortunately it has also seen Serbia relegated to the European Shield by a thrown together 'Italian' side. The Italians have no domestic tournament whilst the Serbs have worked to develop open age and student teams that play a proper season. They deserve better then this.

The Welsh of course have the advantage of a Super League team, Crusaders Rugby League, who have pulled young Welsh men into the orbit of rugby league. This makes them surely second favourites to France who will join the European Cup next year having played in the Four Nations this year. 2010 will be a qualifying tournament, the winners of which will enter the 2011 Four Nations, which will be played in the UK.

The history of rugby league in Wales is long and littered with mistakes and short sightedness. Hopefully we are seeing lessons from the past well learned and a genuine future established.

No comments:

Post a Comment