Ten years since Commonwealth bronze

Ten years ago today, Wales won rugby league bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Well, not quite. It was a demonstration event held a few weeks before the games properly started. These often happen for sports that are being monitored as potential full events in future games.

Wales entered again in 2018, taking sixth place at a similar event at Redcliffe Dolphins’ ground a few miles north of the Gold Coast in Australia. Sadly this wasn’t repeated in Birmingham in 2022 as post-Covid finances and access had taken its toll.

In 2014, and indeed in 2018, this was a Rugby League Nines event, and in the event ten years ago, the other ruling was it was for players in the U19 category.

Wales were coached by Jon Ellis, who was a junior coach in Wales at the time, and he selected most of his side from the players he knew, those who were coming through the system in the South Wales Scorpions juniors and the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme that ran from 2013-14.

The first Commonwealth Championships were an eight-team tournament with Wales drawn in a group with Scotland, Jamaica and Australia, and on day one at Broadwood Stadium, Glasgow, June 27, 2024, Wales opened against the hosts winning 18-6.

In game two, they lost 34-10 to Australia, who were represented by all players from their U18 champions Sydney Roosters, thanks to four tries from Joseph Manu – a player who has done fairly well over the last decade – he’s currently on 172 Roosters first grade appearances and 17 full New Zealand caps.

And with the winner qualifying for the semi-finals, Wales beat Jamaica 34-0.

Day two was the knockout stages and Wales were beaten 12-6 in the semi-finals by eventual champions Papua New Guinea before winning the third-placed play-off against Canada 20-8. Yes, Canada – they’d beaten England 24-4 the day before.

It was a successful trip for the Welsh and having a Commonwealth bronze medal in the home, even that of a demonstration event is something that players and staff will always treasure.


But what happened to the Wales squad from those two days?

Harry Boots – Joined West Wales Raiders in 2015 and played for them throughout their semi-professional era. After they folded, he signed for Cornwall. He went to Australia with Wales Students in the 2017 Student World Cup and won six Student caps in total. He played a friendly match for the full Wales side last autumn.

Harry Cartwright – After playing the academy sides at North Wales Crusaders and Warrington Wolves, he had a handful of professional games, playing for South Wales Scorpions and Rochdale Hornets, before turning to professional training and bodybuilding.

Connor and Curtis Davies – The twins were the youngest players in the Wales side and were only allowed to play in the Commonwealth Championships after an appeal as the were born 17 days after the official cut-off point. Both were already Wales U16 internationals and later in 2014, they won U19 caps. They both left for the north in 2016 after a solid season in the Scorpions first team when aged just 18 throughout 2015. They both represented Wales Students in the 2017 Student World Cup and with Wales Men in the 2019 World Cup 9s, both in Australia. Both made their full Wales debut in 2018 and have since won eight caps, both playing in the World Cup in England in 2022. Only in 2022 did they go their separate ways club-wise with Connor now playing for Halifax Panthers and Curtis for Dewsbury Rams. Curtis’ next appearance for the Rams will be his 100th professional club game in the English leagues.

Rhys Davies – Played for South Wales Scorpions in 2015-16 before moving north and playing for Leeds Beckett University. On graduation, he played a few games for Halifax, Dewsbury Rams, North Wales Crusaders, West Wales Raiders and Rochdale Hornets. He’s now back in Wales and playing in the JES Group Rugby League Conference with South Wales Jets.

Paul Edwards – He went on to win Wales U19 caps plus went to Australia in 2018 with Wales in the next Commonwealth Championships, which was an U23 event. He made appearances for South Wales Scorpions from 2014-16 before going to rugby union and playing for Bridgend Ravens in the Welsh Premiership. Following the pandemic, he became a personal fitness trainer and Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

Joe Festa – Continued to play for Scorpions U19s but gave up rugby league at the end of 2014. He went into full-time education and eventually became a full-time PhD researcher in Molecular & Cell Biology at De Montfort University. He’s now a Postdoctoral Researcher at The Babraham Institute in Cambridge.

Morgan Jeffries – Continued to play rugby league in the community with West Wales Raiders, who were founded in 2015, and went into their professional side as they entered League 1 in 2018. He went to Australia in 2018 with the Wales Nines side in the next Commonwealth Championships and has also won two Wales Dragonhearts caps.

Ben Jones – The top points scorer in the tournament, Ben continues to play rugby league with South Wales Jets. He made his South Wales Scorpions debut in 2015, playing for them for three years. When they went out of business, he went back to the community game and played for Valley Cougars, winning six Wales Dragonhearts caps. He did however make a semi-pro comeback with West Wales Raiders in 2022, playing 14 times.

Alex King – Continued playing rugby union for Bridgend College and played for Wales Students in the 2015 Rugby League Four Nations as well as West Wales Raiders in the RFL Conference South. However an injury that year put him out of the game and he went back to university in Swansea.

Dan Maiden – Like Morgan, he continued to play rugby league in the community with the Raiders and went into their professional side. Following this, he played some union with Bridgend Sports and has now taken up CrossFit and competing in competitions in this sport.

James Taylor – After being named player of the tournament for being top try scorer, James was also named as player of the week in League Express newspaper that week. However an accident set him back in his rugby progress and the former Ospreys junior didn’t get back into rugby after that, instead concentrating on personal training and bodybuilding.

Jordan Thomas – Played for Wales Students in the 2015 Four Nations before giving up the game completely to concentrate on his studies and his career.

Marcus Webb – Played for the Scorpions in 2015 before moving north and making appearances for Hunslet, Swinton Lions and Hunslet. He’s now back in Wales playing for South Wales Jets, where he’s currently top try scorer in the JES Group Rugby League Conference.

Zak Williams – He also went down under in 2018 with Wales in the next Commonwealth Championships. Made his Scorpions first team debut in 2015 and ended up playing three years there and then three with Coventry Bears. Switched to union and played for his local Monmouth side whilst also turning out in league with Valley Cougars and now South Wales Jets.