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Rugby League: Crusaders plight could see Welsh talent go to waste [Dec. 2nd, 2009|01:05 pm]
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[davehadfield]
Uncertainty surrounds to future plans of the (Celtic) Crusaders, but it hard to see now how anything they come up with is not going to be a climb-down from what they originally promised to be.

As a Super League presence in South Wales they made sense. The proposed move from Bridgend to Newport also seemed like it might be a good thing.

But Wrexham? It is difficult to see a relocation there as anything other than a dead-end.

South Wales is an area with a rich rugby tradition and strong links with rugby league. North Wales, despite being less than an hour's drive from places like Warrington, Widnes and St Helens, is not. If you're interested in rugby league in Wrexham, you're probably already watching it.

I'd love to be wrong, but I can only visualise a season at the Racecourse Ground as a slow and lingering death. It's sad, because so much good development work has been going on at the other end of the Principality.

Wales' performances in the European Cup showed how much good local talent there is in the Valleys. There is a danger of all that going to waste now, although a Championship side in South Wales might avert that scenario.

However it works out, it looks suspiciously like another last chance lost in Wales.

********************************

Back from Egypt, there doesn't seem to have been much rugby league activity during my absence, although I am intrigued by one pending transfer.

Paul King, if he goes to Wakefield, will be a classic John Kear signing. He has a chequered past, a dodgy reputation and a stack of ability he has done his best to squander. He could have a tremendous season.
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Comments:
From: davidbradley48
2009-12-02 03:22 pm (UTC)

Crusaders

Please can we drop this 'principality' thing? If Owain Glyndwr makes an unexpected comeback, fair enough, but in the meantime, if you want a 'principality', Monaco's the place.

Much as I hate to disagree with you, I think you're wrong about the appeal of rugby league in north east Wales. There is a lot of interest, but people tend not to travel over the border to watch, with the exception of incomers who go back to watch their old teams.

There was a surge of interest when Wales performed reasonably well, with Iestyn Harris to the fore, a few years ago, and I'm sure that support will be there again.

The Halton MP, Mr Twiggy, seems to think that Widnes will be losing fans if Crusaders play in Wrexham, which doesn't say much for his faith in Widnes fans. There again, he claims that 'Wrexham borders on his constituency'. Good at geography too, then.

I think the move could be a winner, but it's vital that there is also a club in Bridgend, playing in the Championship, to maintain progress in the south east of the country.

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From: ianrjohnson
2009-12-02 03:45 pm (UTC)

Crusaders

I can understand the concerns about the future of the Crusaders, but some of the criticism is misguided and inappropriate.

First of all, let's get away from this south Wales and north Wales business - this is about developing the game in Wales, and, if that's successful, the benefits are for rugby league as a whole. Yes, Wrexham is a fair distance from Newport - to be precise it's 125 miles.

Nevertheless, it IS in a different region of the country and that, in itself, presents many new opportunities, rather than threats to the viability of any existing clubs over the border.

It's important that the game continues to develop in the south of Wales, and good foundations have been laid there. But a lot of people in England would be surprised by the level of interest in the north of Wales, where there is no direct competition from WRU regional teams, and where the public is crying out for a successful sports team.

If towns like Widnes can sustain a professional rugby league club, with a population in Halton of 119,800, then so can Wrexham, with a population of 130,000 in the county borough.

Wrexham's Racecourse Ground is a good one, central to the town and near to one of the railway stations, and Wrexham is easily accessible by road. Visiting supporters will have an opportunity to spend some time visiting parts of north-east Wales and beyond - the benefits work both ways.

Numerous people I have spoken to in Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire are very positive about the team playing at Wrexham, and groups of us have gone in large numbers to see matches, such as the Super League Final, over the border. There have been very positive articles in the regional daily press about Crusaders being based at Wrexham.

It seems to me that there is every chance of seeing the game grow in schools in the north east of Wales and at junior level, provided the Crusaders are run in a proper professional way, and good links established in the region. Glyndwr University is only a pitch-length away from the ground and I suspect they could well be interested in some sort of link.

Let's stop looking at a glass that's half empty, and try instead to make the most of the present arrangement. Instead of players and supporters heading to Stockport to watch kick and rush at Sale Rugby Union, let's entice them to the Racecourse to watch a much more exciting game.
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