Most community rugby league clubs in Wales are now back in training, with nearly 700 players registered with the governing body and raring to go. It is predicted that over 1,000 community players will take to the field in 2020 when safe to do so.

All clubs have been following guidelines that were instructed by Wales Rugby League and the Welsh Government to provide a safe and COVID-19-free environment.

Rhondda Outlaws, Cardiff Blue Dragons, Aber Valley Wolves, Torfaen Tigers and Cynon Valley Cavaliers have already resumed whilst Bridgend Blue Bulls’ first session back is this Sunday at their new home of Kenfig Hill RFC.

Llanelli Knights are relaunching and have just advertised for new players, Valley Cougars are aiming to start back on August 26 and North Wales sides will be aiming to start after August 23.

The WRL vision and strategy is to grow the game by establishing community rugby league clubs, that offer accessible sport for all men and women, boys and girls, plus Wheelchair and Masters RL.

If you want to play rugby league for your local club, please go to https://wrl.wales/community-clubs for their contact details.

All who have returned have been delighted at the positive response from players, coaches and volunteers alike.

Helen Treherne, from Caerphilly-based Aber Valley Wolves, said: “All age groups have now returned to training and the club was delighted to welcome back over 40 U12s, over 30 U14s, as well as a good number of U16s.

“Next week will see training for the revived open age men’s team and a taster session for the brand new women’s team. Please contact the club if you’re interested in playing, even if you’ve never played league before. COVID-19 measures are in place and we look forward to welcoming any new players, coaches, officials or sponsors who want to get involved.”

This message is naturally echoed by all of the community clubs in Wales. Spencer Jones from Cynon Valley Cavaliers, who right now run junior sides only, said: “Our U16s train on Wednesdays. They’re a new side who are building nicely to complement our established U14s and U12s where we’re getting good numbers every Friday.”

James Allen from Rhondda Outlaws said: “We are just really impressed with how everyone has adapted to the new way of training. The presence of club founder Cobi Green helped us out massively. We wish him all the best at his new club Swinton Lions.

“Numbers are great but more U12 and women are encouraged to get involved with those sides, especially as selection for the Women’s Emerging Nations World Cup next summer is coming up.”

Sean Gardner of Cardiff Blue Dragons says: “We have been preparing hard behind the scenes, working closely with our fellow community clubs and Wales Rugby League to get the teams safely back on the pitch.

“Last weekend, our primary schools “Mini Dragon” camps kicked off, as well as our sides from U12 up to U16, and it was amazing to see so many boys and girls back at HQ Glamorgan Wanderers. After players were signed in, temperatures were taken and the kids were raring to go.

“Our two open age sides are under new coaching staff, with the squad also being bolstered by some new recruits. In their session, the lads trained hard to impress all.”

Stephen Smith of Bridgend Blue Bulls say the club can’t wait to return this Sunday. “It’s been difficult watching other clubs start back up,” he said. “But now we are in a position to give a safe environment and to experience new and returning players.

“We’ve moved to Kenfig Hill this season and as we begin a new journey at a new home, we would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to Pyle RFC for years and years of support. Without your backing we would never have been able to reach the level we have. Your support for us and the game is legendary.

“We are hopeful for some matches soon and to keep expanding our club. We are particularly looking for players at under 12s and open age women.”

Further north, it’s been a bit more difficult. Conrad Anderson from the North Wales Origin side, who could be playing out of venues in Rhyl and Bethesda this and next year, explains. “We will be starting from August 23rd at the earliest because of the local spike in Wrexham and Flintshire and the restrictions put in place in the north of England,” he said.

“There are plans to have a 9s competition, as well as Masters and women’s matches in the Autumn. We’ll also be resurrecting Flintshire Falcons and North Wales Crusaders U15s.”

With places in the Wales international sides at U16, U19, Dragonhearts and women up for grabs, it’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm all around the country.

To reiterate, please go to https://wrl.wales/community-clubs to get in contact with your local community club, or email mark.jones@walesrugbyleague.co.uk.

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