There will be a father and son playing for what is believed to be the first time ever in a Welsh Rugby League match this Saturday when the unbeaten Bridgend Blue Bulls travel to Carmarthen Athletic RFC to take on CPC Bears (kick-off 2pm).
Former Celtic Crusaders prop Karl Hocking, aged 36, will line up alongside his 18-year old son Matthew to take on the Bears, who achieved their first ever win last Saturday.
Karl has been with the Blue Bulls since there inaugural 2003 season, while Matthew joined the side this year and has made a big impact in their opening three games.
Matthew has just started out on his dual-code rugby career and plays in the number eight position for Pontycymmer rugby union youth union team, while Karl, who won a single full Welsh cap for Wales against Scotland in Glasgow in 2005, is one of the most well known players in both codes and has represented a number of union and league clubs across South Wales.
Karl Hocking said: “I was contemplating retirement this year but I am now very keen to get back to playing and getting the Bridgend Blue Bulls jersey on again. I also can’t let the boy have all the fun, can I?”
The game of the day on Saturday could be at Caerphilly where Valley Cougars A host the Titans (kick-off 3pm). It’s the second match of a double header at Caerphilly with Crusaders’ under 15 side taking on St Helens at 1pm.
Both sides have lost just once this season and whoever wins will take a step towards a top two finish. The Titans lost narrowly to the Blue Bulls last week after letting a big lead slip away, their coach Earl Palmer said: “We should have finished them off when we were 16 points up but we let them back into the game. However that’s made us even more determined to get a victory on Saturday”.
This game will also see two Wales Dragonhearts squad members go head to head. Hookers Rhys Meredith (Titans) and Rhodri Morris (Cougars) have both been named in the 25 man squad for the Home Nations Tournament and will both have something to prove.
Meanwhile at St Albans RFC the Cardiff Demons are hoping to pick up their first win of the season when they host Torfaen Tigers (kick-off 2pm). Three of the Cardiff players already have something to celebrate with Shaun Bartlett, Paul Bartlett and Joey Davies all having been named in the Malta squad for the European Shield campaign this week.
But it won’t be easy and despite having just picked up one win this season, the Tigers have been in good form and have been unlucky not to pick up any more victories. They also have something to celebrate after props Rhys Miller and Jamie Williams were both named in the Dragonhearts squad.
In the Championship, West Wales sides Dyffryn Devils and Bonymaen Broncos meet at Penybanc RFC while Tydfil Wildcats host Neath Port Talbot Steelers at Dowlais RFC.
In the Conference National Youth League, there is an interesting match-up at The Racecourse on Friday evening before the Crusaders v Leeds Rhinos match where North meets South for the first time ever in a competitive Rugby League game.
The North Wales Crusaders under 18s take on CPC Bears’ youth side for Welsh junior bragging rights.
For the Bears’ under 18s, it’s the start of a busy weekend as they play again on Sunday afternoon when they tackle Ryland Sharks in Carmarthen.
Community Development Manager and North Wales coach Matt Pritchard said: “This match highlights how much Rugby League is growing across Wales and is a fantastic development for the Gillette National Conference League. Our under 18s have been looking forward to this match for a while now as I’m sure the South Wales based team CPC Bears have.
“This will make a fantastic North vs South Wales clash in build up to the Crusaders home match against Leeds Rhinos. For the players to play here at the Racecourse ground before the Rhinos match makes it an even bigger occasion for both teams. Now all we need to do is pick 17 which is going be hard as they are all up for it.”