Glantaf ready for Wembley Stadium

It’s England versus Wales at Wembley Stadium on Saturday with St Peters Catholic High School of Wigan are poised to take on Cardiff’s Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf in the Steven Mullaney Memorial Game (kick-off 10am).  

This Year 7 national Inspiresport Champion Schools boy’s final is the first of a quadruple header of finals in London, with the Women’s and Men’s Challenge Cup Finals following, then the 1895 Cup Final, the competition for Championship and League 1 men’s sides.

The match is named after a schoolboy who thrilled television viewers across the country by scoring a superb solo try as Wakefield Schools defeated St Helens 17-0 before the 1986 Challenge Cup Final. Tragically, he died in a road traffic accident the following year so as a tribute to him, this annual encounter was renamed The Steven Mullaney Memorial Game. Since then, generations of young players have carried on his joy of playing Rugby League by taking part in this special fixture, which has become an integral part of the Champion Schools Finals.

Glantaf will make only their second appearance at Wembley Stadium having previously won the Year 7 Boys’ Final back in 2015. That day was arguably the biggest day in their history and the Welsh-speaking school didn’t disappoint as they dominated to beat Wade Deacon 40-6. It was the start of three years of finals for this set of Cardiff lads, as they also took the Year 9 trophy in 2017.

Skip forward seven more years and their team will be flying the Wales flag high when they take to the pitch with Glantaf continuing to impress following an appearance at St James’ Park in Newcastle for the Year 10 Girls’ Final last year.

Glantaf began their campaign with a trip to London’s Langley Park who they successfully defeated 38-4 before a quarter final victory against Archbishop Sentamu Academy. Next up was an outstanding semi-final performance against Outwood Academy Freeston with Welsh side progressing to Wembley after a 50-4 triumph.

Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf Head Coach, Rhydian Garner, explained: “This will be a day that the boys will remember for ever, and a fantastic opportunity for them to show what they can do on the big stage. We know that we have a massive challenge ahead playing a very talented St Peters side. Training has gone well and hopefully the boys will go out and play with freedom at Wembley. Cymru am Byth!!!”

The Glantaf players have had an exciting week. After three of their players went up to the official RFL media conference and mixed with the men’s and women’s Challenge Cup players as well as having their picture taken with the famous old men’s trophy, they had their shirts presented to them by Wales Rugby League legend Jonathan Davies.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/ – 03/06/2024 – Rugby League – Betfred Challenge Cup Final Press Conference – Haydock Park Racecourse, Merseyside.

Their opponents St Peters have a rich history in this competition and have already featured in both the Year 11 Boys’ and Girls’ Finals in April and now their Year 7 Boys’ will have their chance to shine on the biggest of stages.

St Peters’ journey to Wembley started with a defeat of Malet Lambert to set up a quarter final against Cumbria’s St Benedict’s Catholic High School. The resulting victory saw them face Malet Lambert once again in the semi-finals, and whilst the Hull side persevered, St Peters were eventually too strong and came out on top with a 26-6 win. Their head coach, Neil Ashton, said: “We’re immensely proud of our players who have worked so hard to get here. We hope they go out and enjoy the occasion.”

RFL National Education Manager, Andrea Murray, commented: “Congratulations to both schools on making it to Wembley Stadium. Both teams have done incredibly well throughout the tournament and are a real credit to their coaches. The boys will be following in the footsteps of some famous Rugby League names who have played in the Steven Mullaney Memorial Game – among them Kevin Sinfield, Denis Betts, Bobbie Goulding and Phil Clarke.

“Our ball crew will also be made up of additional players from the teams and we have two mascots in Jack Johnson and Macs Garner who both have family ties to each squad – a massive thanks to all of you for being involved.”

The 2024 Steven Mullaney Memorial Game, will be shown live on the RFL’s YouTube channel, kicking off at 10am on Saturday 8 June at Wembley Stadium.