Crusaders under 16s inflict Australian tour defeat

Crusaders under 16s inflicted Cavendish Road High School under 15s first defeat of their 2010 tour of the UK on Friday night after beating them 37-6 in Pontyclun.

It was an outstanding performance from the Welsh as the Australians are affiliated to the Brisbane Broncos’ NRL development system.

Cavendish Road High School is a Rugby League school of excellence based in south Brisbane and Ben Ward, the teacher on tour with the squad and head of the Rugby League program at the school is a former player whom played under former Crusaders coach John Dixon in various student representative teams.

They are a well established and well respected school in terms of academic and sporting terms. They had played six games on tour including matches against Thatto Heath, St Helens and both London and the South, and London and the North. They have remained undefeated until last night’s loss to the Crusaders under 16s. It was their third game in Wales having narrowly defeated Crusaders under 15s 30-20 on Monday and beating the Panthers from Pontyclun on Wednesday.

Head of Football for Wales, Anthony Seibold said: “Wales Rugby League would like to both thank and congratulate Cavendish Road on their efforts to travel to the UK to experience the culture and differences in Rugby League. It has been a great life experience for their players and staff, it is relationships like these that we want to build upon and make long lasting.

“The opportunity for both the Crusaders under 15s and 16s and also our stand out Conference under 15s Junior team in the Panthers has been one that has been challenging and also rewarding this week. It is not every day that young players from Wales get to represent themselves and families against international opposition albeit a school team in this instance. It has been a big week for all players concerned and I would like to thank and congratulate the players and staff within our Crusaders Scholarship programme for their efforts.

“Our under 16s were rewarded for all their hard work with a well deserved victory over our visitors last night. For the first time in Wales Rugby League history we have a pathway that entails opportunities for the elite players at all levels of the professional game from Scholarship, to Academy to South Wales Scorpions Championship One team to the Crusaders Super League team to the Senior Welsh International team. There is a very real opportunity for a young kid in Wales to have a professional career in Rugby League and we think that some of the players we have identified and have now come into our system can achieve their ambitions of being a professional Rugby League player within our systems.

“This is an exciting time for all of us involved who have worked very hard over the last five years since the inception of the Crusaders at the end of 2005. I have said it before but in late 2005 there were four schools with eight teams playing in the Champion Schools knockout, in 2010-11 we will have 160 teams represented from 60 schools playing in the Champions Schools competition.

“In 2005 there was no organised junior club competition in Wales yet now we have under 13s, 15s and 17s playing in the Welsh Conference during the summer. We also have engaged over 1,000 boys and girls in the Scorpions Junior Cup and Primary schools cup competitions which recently concluded. Much of the systems now in place and the growth of the game here are the legacy of John Dixon in the recent past in conjunction with guys like Andy Lindley and Dan Clements amongst others who have all worked tirelessly. There is massive growth within the sport here and with the European Cup coming up at the end of the season for the senior team we feel greater recognition for the sport and what it has achieved over recent years should be forthcoming in the principality.”

Academy Manager for Wales Rugby League, Andy Lindley adds: “These players are now about to embark on a transition programme as they will shortly reach Academy age. We’re currently fielding a young Crusaders Academy side that are already being `blooded` in the arena of the professional ranks. What I witnessed tonight from the Crusaders under 16s excited me immensely.

“When we consider a number of these boys will have an opportunity to play for the under 18 Academy for next year, we can’t fail but to be energised for the future. Dan, Aled, Lee and all the other staff have done an exceptional job with these young men. However, let’s not forget the performance is from the players. They have to play. All we can do is coach and support. These boys are natural League players who have the raw attributes to be athletes of the highest calibre. The future is indeed bright, both for the Crusaders and Wales Rugby League.”