The Wales Rugby League domestic season kicks off this weekend with matches at four venues over two days.
Cardiff Blue Dragons host a double header of matches at Riverside Park in Llanrumney where their A side host Valley Cougars A in the Welsh Premier League (kick-off 1.15pm) before the first team faces Gloucestershire All Golds in the RFL Southern Conference League (kick-off 3pm).
The capital side, having to move this game from their regular Glamorgan Wanderers base due to a fixture clash, entered both sides in the Welsh Premier League last year.
But now, with the first team playing at Southern UK’s community game elite level, their A side will be challenging for honours this year and Cardiff director Alf Harvey has no idea how the first game will go.
He said: “I’m looking forward to a busy weekend in Cardiff as both our senior squads are in action. In regards to the WRL Premier League game where we face the Cougars, to be honest I don’t think we can predict this one. Both teams will be unknown quantities, but we are expecting a big challenge for our inexperienced squad.
“In the SCL, we host All Golds who coming off the back of a big result against Torfaen and will be full of confidence and looking for another challenge. We’ll meet that challenge head on.
“The one thing I can say with confidence is that Cardiff will do its utmost to give the supporters the two victories.”
Valley Cougars first team travel to New Inn to face Torfaen Tigers in Saturday’s other Southern Conference League match (kick-off 2.30pm) in a repeat of the last two Welsh Grand Finals before the reintroduction of the UK’s southern competition.
Cougars’ team manager Daniel Blakemore said: “We’re looking forward to a Welsh derby as it adds some spice to things. We’ve had a hotly contested rivalry with the Tigers over the last few years and we’ve really enjoyed the test they provide us.
“We are looking to go into the game the same way as we always do and match them physically in the middle of the park. We had a great start against the All Golds and now it’s about maintaining that level of performance and tightening up the areas we’ve worked on in training over the last two weeks.”
On Sunday, there’s a double header at Sardis Road in Pontypridd when Rhondda Outlaws host Cardiff Blue Dragons in an U12 league match (kick-off 12.30pm) before facing Torfaen Tigers A in the Welsh Premier League (kick-off 2.30pm).
Outlaws coach James Allen said: “We are really excited to be fielding age grade again. It’s our aim now to add a new junior side every season, helping to grow a pathway for ourselves and for Wales Rugby League.
“In regards to the Premier League side, we have prepared well and after a good win last weekend in our pre-season friendly, we can’t wait to get going. It will also be a bit emotional as it’ll be our first competitive game without our former chairman Clive Batchelor who passed away last year.”
Finally at Aneurin Park in Caerphilly, there’s a quadruple header of matches for Aber Valley Wolves who are entering two sides in the U12 and U14 competition, split into “yellow” and “blue” teams.
The yellows face Torfaen Tigers with the U12 game kicking off at 10am and the U14s at 11.10am whilst the blues host Llanelli Knights U12 at 12.20pm and their U14s at 1.45pm.
Tigers chairman Matt Cummins said: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Firstly on Saturday, we have the Big Welsh Derby against the Cougars which is always a great encounter.
“I’ve no doubt they’ll come in to the game as favourites, but we’ve prepared well and hopefully we’ll put out a strong performance.
“Following that our Development team step in to the Welsh Premier League for the first time this Sunday with a tricky trip to Sardis Road against the Outlaws. It’s going to be great to field the two open-age teams this weekend, as well as our junior sides at Aber Valley, and show once again the direction that the club is moving in.”
Wolves’ general manager Helen Treherne said: “We’re all looking forward to the start of the season on Sunday and welcoming both Torfaen Tigers and Llanelli Knights to our home ground.
“After the explosion of new Wolves players last season, we decided to register two U12s and two U14s teams, along with our U16s and U19s squads. Hopefully it’s a sign that participation is now increasing and the future is looking bright for rugby league in Wales.”
THIS WEEKEND’S FIXTURES
Under 19 international
Wales v Ireland (19:00 – Stebonheath Park, Llanelli)
RFL Southern Conference League
Torfaen Tigers v Valley Cougars (14:30 – Jarrolds Fields, New Inn)
Cardiff Blue Dragons v All Golds (15:00 – Riverside Park, Llanrumney)
WRL Premier League
Cardiff Blue Dragons A v Valley Cougars A (13:15 – Riverside Park, Llanrumney)
WRL Premier League
Rhondda Outlaws v Torfaen Tigers A (14:30 – Sardis Road, Pontypridd)
WRL U14 Championship
Aber Valley Wolves Yellow v Torfaen Tigers (11:10 – Aneurin Park, Caerphilly)
Aber Valley Wolves Blue v Llanelli Knights (13:45 – Aneurin Park, Caerphilly)
WRL U12 Championship
Aber Valley Wolves Yellow v Torfaen Tigers (10:00 – Aneurin Park, Caerphilly)
Aber Valley Wolves Blue v Llanelli Knights (12:20 – Aneurin Park, Caerphilly)
Rhondda Outlaws v Cardiff Blue Dragons (12:30 – Sardis Road, Pontypridd)
Go to www.rugbyleague.cymru for complete fixtures and results.