After two false starts, due to Covid, Wales Masters will at last take to the field this Sunday when they’ll take on England, Ireland and Canada in a Four Nations festival at Leigh East’s ground at Leigh Sports Village (1pm start).
Masters will be Wales Rugby League’s 10th representative side. Since the last World Cup year in 2017, Wales have fielded played full internationals at Senior Men, Senior Women, Wheelchair (mixed men and women), U16, U17 and U19 males, Dragonhearts (men’s community), Male Students and Men’s Nine-a-Side levels.
Masters Rugby League is played by people aged 35 and over with the rules being slightly modified to cater for the older player. Historically, there have been no winners, no champions, and no cup finals – Masters is about is all about the spirit of the game. The most important rule is: “everyone has to buy a drink for their opposite number!”
Wales have more or less stuck to their original squad that was selected over a year ago, chosen from players who have been playing regularly for Masters Rugby League clubs. Primarily the squad comes from the two original Masters clubs in Wales – Cardiff Blue Dragons and North Wales Buccaneers, who faced each other in 2019 with Cardiff providing eight of the 19-man squad and North Wales providing nine.
The only difference to the original published squad is the inclusion of Robert Grey-Williams, who was called to the squad this week to replace Lee Woodworth who pulls out through illness. Grey-Williams has showed great commitment to the North Wales Buccaneers team this season having attended all of training sessions and games.
Wales Masters player-coach Chris Thomas says: “Wales Masters are ecstatic about playing on Sunday in the festival. We just want to do ourselves, our team, our families and our country proud. It’s going to be a momentous occasion.
“To be part of the first Welsh masters side is an absolute honour. It will be a very emotional day as we have put a lot of work and determination in establishing club sides in North and South Wales, to enable us to then have a national Masters side.
“It’s been a long difficult road, but now our efforts are being rewarded with Sunday’s festival. We have established good strong foundations for Masters to continue to expand in Wales and cannot promote it enough, give it a go and become part of the Masters family.
“As the Masters’ motto states: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
If you want to play Masters Rugby League, please send an email to email@example.com stating your location for more information on your local club.
More at Masters Rugby League at https://rugbyleague.wales/about-wales-masters-rl
WALES SQUAD: Gareth Evans (Arlecdon Rams), Wayne Bridges (Blackpool), Idris Evans, Shaun Gustard, Alf Harvey, Jamie Iles, Darren Newman, Chris Stiles, Chris Thomas, Martyn Williams (all Cardiff Blue Dragons), Rob Ashworth, Dave Burns, Ray Caldwell, David Gray, Robert Grey-Williams, Jay Harding, Andrew Jacobson, Chris Rich, Ryan Roberts (all North Wales Buccaneers).