After two false starts, due to Covid, Wales Masters will at last take to the field on Sunday 21 November, when they’ll take on England, Ireland and Canada in a Four Nations festival at Leigh East’s ground at Leigh Sports Village (timings TBC).
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 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. Both sides are preparing to play in the Blackpool Masters this weekend.
Last year, Wales Masters player-coach Chris Thomas said: “Our team selection was based primarily on the players’ contribution to Masters Rugby League. It was a difficult choice on who to select and for us not to advertise for trials this time, but we decided to reward players on their commitment to their clubs and their training, in addition to how well they played last season. We wanted to make this selection prestigious.”
He has stuck to these words and is now looking forward to this year’s international event which will see Wales’ 10th different representative side take to the field.
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.
Thomas adds: “The Blackpool Masters this weekend will be a great preparation for us for the International Masters in November. The boys are looking forward to the challenges ahead both on and off the field. It’s a landmark occasion and it’s good to be back on the field at last. The International Masters in Leigh in November, where we’ll face England, Ireland and Canada, will be another enjoyable weekend where I’m sure rugby league will be the winner.
If you want to play Masters Rugby League, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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, Jay Harding, Andrew Jacobson, Chris Rich, Ryan Roberts, Lee Woodworth (all North Wales Buccaneers).