In preparation for their tour of the USA, Wales will take on The Army in a Wheelchair Rugby League match on Sunday 14 January at Cwmbran Stadium (kick-off 1.30pm).
The match won’t be capped or count towards the players’ international appearance totals, but it will be a full 80-minute match where Wales head coach Alan Caron is looking to use all 10 of his touring squad.
The Army started playing Wheelchair Rugby League in 2019, it being introduced by Steven Sampher, a former soldier and running rugby league player who was injured in Afghanistan and then started playing Wheelchair RL for Hull FC. The Army competes annually in the autumn inter-services competition against the RAF and the Navy, which is played alongside the men’s and women’s competitions. They are supported by the charity “Soldier’s League”.
Caron said: “We’re really looking forward to this encounter with The Army and we’re grateful to them for providing us with opposition ahead of our two full internationals against the USA in February.
“When looking round for someone to play, we had thoughts about maybe facing Ireland, but we didn’t want a match where caps and rankings were on the line. Wheelchair Rugby League will hopefully be in the next Invictus Games and the Army are trying to push this, a fully inclusive sport into the games, so a match against the Army may also help them with the publicity they need.
“In the last couple of training sessions, I’ve been looking to stretch the players to see them under pressure. This will be a chance to put this into action and will be another big test for them, as we prepare the players for the USA.
“We’ll train for an hour or so before the match, with the game against the Army being the last time we get together before we go to South Carolina. We arrive there late on the Monday, have light training on the Tuesday but we’ll have some full sessions on the Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the two matches, so we’ll be fully prepared for a tough challenge against the USA.
“It’ll be great to see as many people as possible at Cwmbran Stadium on Sunday 14th January to cheer us on.”
Sampher adds: “The Army side are really looking forward to it. The training we had this month was very intense and we’re looking forward to putting all of it into match action.
“We have some ex-military personnel playing at international level, so we’ll have a good squad and we’ll give Wales a test. We’re very excited to give Wales support to build for their USA tour.
“As Kevin Ellis and Allan Bateman are two of patrons, we’ll be inviting them down to the game, but I expect they’ll have their Welsh hats on that day.”
Admission to the match will be free of charge. Spectators can watch from the balcony that overlooks the court where there is seating, as well as disabled access.
Sponsorship is still available for Wales’ tour to USA, with the official media partner naming rights still up for grabs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.