After five regular season rounds, Wales Rugby League are preparing for their first ever Wheelchair Rugby League Finals Day, that’s to be held on Saturday 25th November at Wrexham University.
Two matches will take place – first is the Cwpan Sialens Cadair Olwyn (Wheelchair Challenge Cup) between home side North Wales Crusaders and Torfaen Tigers at 11.30am. Then at 1.40pm, it’s the first WRL Wheelchair Invitational League Grand Final between two English sides – Argonauts from Kent and Hereford Harriers.
The league was launched earlier this year between the three current Wheelchair clubs in Wales, Cardiff Blue Dragons being the side missing out this weekend, with invitations going out to clubs in England who also wanted to take part.
With Argonauts and Hereford applying, the five-team competition was organised over five weekends, each a fortnight apart, with one club hosting a double header of matches, giving each side four games.
At the end of the regular season, the top two sides qualified for the league’s Grand Final, with the top two Welsh sides competing for the Cup and potentially playing in two matches in the same day, which is a common occurrence in Wheelchair Rugby League.
Argonauts qualified for the final as league leaders and they also have the league’s top try scorer in Irish international Fred Nye with 24. His club and international team-mate Peter Johnston is next with 16 tries.
Hereford will prove still competition and they’re expected to be led by Wales international Gary Preece, third on the try-scoring list in the league with 14, but top in regards to goal scoring, having landed 60 in four games, his 116 points total also topping the league charts in the regular season.
In the Cup, players to look out for will be Welsh internationals Lee Sargent at Torfaen and Stephen Halsey at North Wales. At 56 and 52 points respectively, they’re fourth and fifth in the point-scoring ranks in 2023. In all competitions in England, Wales and internationally, Halsey has scored 718 points this season.
All matches are available to watch in full on YouTube, clicking the links on the results below.
WRL’s head of Wheelchair Rugby League Stephen Jones is delighted with how the season has panned out and looks forward to welcoming all to the country’s first-ever Wheelchair RL finals day.
He says: “The WRL Wheelchair Invitational League has been the success story we knew that it would be.
“We’ve had nearly 100 people involved in the league, that’s players, coaches and volunteers, with players’ ages ranging from eight to 70. We’ve had adult men, adult women, boys, girls, non-binary and transgender players. We’ve had players with many types of disabilities, some with one leg, some with no legs, some who can’t ever get out of a wheelchair, and as we are totally inclusive, some who have no disabilities as we’re allowed two able-bodied players on each team. We feel we’ve included everyone this season.
“The clubs are always available to help each other out as well. Cardiff and Torfaen sometimes train together and new players are welcome everywhere, whatever their age.
“We even had an occasion where one player, Fred Nye, volunteered to play for two clubs in one day, this being on the second day of the season where Torfaen were forced to travel with just five players, one of whom was an 11-year old on her debut, so Fred offered to step in, scored four tries and they nearly beat Hereford as a result.
“All this has resulted in more players trying out for the Wales international side. Our train-on squad for our international matches in the USA are selected, but I’m sure our head coach Alan Caron will keep some of the trialists in mind for next year’s Celtic Cup plus other future tournaments.
“I encourage all rugby league fans to please travel to Wrexham on Saturday 25 November to watch some fantastic Wheelchair Rugby League action. We don’t charge admission but donations towards our trip to USA will be very welcome.”
REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
|Date||Team 1||Score||Team 2||Venue|
|06/08/2023||Cardiff Blue Dragons||20-58||North Wales Crusaders||Cardiff City House of Sport, Cardiff|
|06/08/2023||The Argonauts||82-36||Hereford Harriers||Cardiff City House of Sport, Cardiff|
|20/08/2023||The Argonauts||48-30||Cardiff Blue Dragons||Crook Log Sports Centre, London|
|20/08/2023||Hereford Harriers||62-56||Torfaen Tigers||Crook Log Sports Centre, London|
|02/09/2023||Torfaen Tigers||62-34||Cardiff Blue Dragons||Cwmbran Stadium, Cwmbran|
|02/09/2023||North Wales Crusaders||34-60||The Argonauts||Cwmbran Stadium, Cwmbran|
|16/09/2023||Hereford Harriers||80-36||North Wales Crusaders||Leominster Leisure Centre, Leominster|
|16/09/2023||The Argonauts||100-4||Torfaen Tigers||Leominster Leisure Centre, Leominster|
|01/10/2023||North Wales Crusaders||68-18||Torfaen Tigers||Glyndwr University, Wrexham|
|01/10/2023||Cardiff Blue Dragons||8-92||Hereford Harriers||Glyndwr University, Wrexham|
2023 WRL Wheelchair Invitational League Table
|Argonauts Skeleton Army||4||4||0||0||290||104||186||8|
|Hereford Harriers Wheelchair||4||3||0||1||270||182||88||6|
|North Wales Crusaders Wheelchair||4||2||0||2||196||178||18||4|
|Torfaen Tigers Wheelchair||4||1||0||3||140||264||-124||2|
|Cardiff Blue Dragons Wheelchair||4||0||0||4||92||260||-168||0|