Wales Rugby League officials have been visiting community clubs this Christmas to present the caps that were owed from the 2019 season.
A large presentation with all players to be invited, was due to take place in the spring, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so last week, before the new lockdown restrictions were introduced by the Welsh Government, it was safe for WRL Development Manager Mark Jones and CEO Gareth Kear to travel around Wales to spread a bit of happiness before Christmas, respecting all social distancing policies at the time when presenting.
Aber Valley Wolves, Bridgend Blue Bulls, Cynon Valley Cavaliers and Rhondda Outlaws all arranged a day of it, where most players from these clubs agreed to arrive at staggered times to accept their international and / or regional caps and have their photographs taken. However the Blue Bulls and the Outlaws were due to have their presentation days yesterday (Sunday), and due to the new COVID regulations, these events had to be cancelled. So they, like other clubs, arranged to deliver caps to their players, with Outlaws coach James Allen driving for over four hours to ensure all were received.
In total, over 100 caps were personally presented to players of all different clubs. Regional caps were given to players from East Wales and West Wales (at U12, U14, U16 and senior levels), and international caps to Wales U16, U19, Student and Dragonhearts. In addition, there was a surprise presentation to Wales Wheelchair international player Scotty Trigg-Turner, Mark Jones going to his house in Newport, arranged by Scotty’s wife Sophie and Wales Wheelchair side head coach Steve Jones. There are plans to present outstanding men’s and women’s caps at a ceremony when the pandemic rules agree that it is safe to mix properly again.
Gareth Kear said: “This is what makes my job so worthwhile and enjoyable – recognising the great player pathway we have in Wales and seeing proud parents. It’s an honour to present East and West Wales and international caps to players developed at a great community clubs in Wales. We all look forward to a brighter 2021.”
Mark Jones adds: “Obviously this wasn’t the year that WRL had planned, but we are trying to finish it with a bang! Over the last few weeks, we have been able to put smiles back on our players and parents faces. Giving out representative honours is the most rewarding part of my job and very emotional. Bring on 2021, and hopefully a full Rugby League programme.”
On the day of their presentation, Helen Treherne from Aber Valley Wolves posted over 100 photos on their Facebook page and commented: “The club is so proud of all its players, whether they want to play just for fun, or want to move along the pathway. Today was testament to the fact that the pathway is working and it was a day to celebrate the success of the Wolves players in the Origins series and Wales U16s and U19s and players were presented (socially distanced) with their caps.
“Not the usual WRL presentation due to COVID-19, but we had to mark this great achievement in some way.
“A huge thank you to all of our coaches who tirelessly work their socks off, to WRL National Development Officer Mark Jones and CEO Gareth Kear for turning up to support us, and a massive thank you to Andrew Wilkes, for once again taking some superb pics!
“Well done to all the players, including those who couldn’t make it today. Onwards and upwards to next season, which we hope will be a better year for everyone.”
Main picture above – Scott Pritchard, grandson of former Wales international Gordon Pritchard, with Helen and Viv Treherne and Jason Oates of Aber Valley Wolves.