The Wales Rugby League National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd have a big match tonight as they travel to face the Salford Red Devils Academy at the AJ Bell Stadium (kick-off 6.45pm).

For most of the side, it will be their first experience of playing in front of a big crowd at a Super League stadium, as tickets have been sold for tonight’s game, just three days into spectators being allowed back into stadia in England.

WRL’s National Development Manager Mark Jones, who runs the Academy at its Coleg y Cymoedd base, says that the side, and the Academy itself, will get a lot out of the game as they take on the Super League academy who are in a tri partnership with WRL and the college.

He said: “It’s our first match as a dual-accredited academy, 14 months after forming. Covid got in the way and now the lads have been back training for five weeks. They’ve all been delighted to be back at Coleg y Cymoedd, where they’ve been able to continue their studies, but also now get back onto the rugby league field.

“We’ve played games against Salford before, but not at this level, with a big crowd. It’s great exposure for the WRL / Coleg v Cymoedd National Development Academy and it’ll be great experience for our players to be around the Super League environment that we’re in a partnership with.

“We’re going to meet the Salford first team squad before the game, with Elliot Kear and Rhys Williams speaking to the lads about their journey, so our players can visualise the pathway and help with their aspirations. There will be talent ID there today, so some of the boys may eventually be picked up by the club – that’s the beauty of this partnership that the college and WRL have with Salford.

“I’m meeting with former Wales head coach Stuart Wilkinson, who’s going to be our Salford coach. He’ll be coming down every fortnight to do coaching sessions with our academy for two days in a month. He’ll also coach a new U16 development squad on one of the evenings he’s down.

“We’ve got a different level of experience with our players here. We’ve people like Kieran Lewis, who’s just signed for Montpellier, Jake Lee, who’s a Wales Students international, a few Wales U16s internationals, and some newcomers.

“Also travelling with us are Geraint Kettley, our strength and conditioner, Wayne Ponting, the West Wales Raiders’ assistant coach and David Albertelli, the Wales U17 strength and conditioning coach. I’d like to thank them for taking the time out to assist today.”

Coleg y Cymoedd have many education options alongside training full time at the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy. If you would like to discuss your’s or your child’s education pathway and options, then please contact Mark Jones Wales Rugby League National Development Officer 07886 654933 or email  mark.jones@walesrugbyleague.co.uk, and he will be happy to have an informal meeting.

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