Wolfpack revolution could echo Welsh development
07th March 2017, 13:31
The Toronto Wolfpack revolution has started to grip the nation. A feature on BBC Breakfast News on March 6th, two days after their league debut, shows that the publicity drive is going really well.
Toronto are heavily tipped to win the League 1 title, but ten years ago, another non-English side in the same league had already started to make waves.
Celtic Crusaders, like the Wolfpack, fielded foreign players as well as their own countrymen (although Crusaders had many more from their own nation) and like the Wolfpack, they started their campaign by beating London Skolars at New River Stadium.
This squad, who fielded nine players who had either played for Wales in the past or went onto play for Wales, went on to win 19 league games out of 22 to win the NL2 title and because of this promotion to NL1 (now known as the Championship), funding was made available to start an academy. From that academy came the majority of the current Welsh side who will be competing in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Many will speculate that if it wasn’t for this 2007 Celtic Crusaders side, our current Welsh international set-up may not have been as successful. Potential development locally in Toronto could help strengthen the Canadian national side, like it has done with Wales.
Wales' next game will be away against Papua New Guniea in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup starting in October. Wales enter the tournament six games unbeaten and as current European Champions however have some mouthwatering opposition in their three opening group games. Click here for a full World Cup fixture list and to buy tickets.
Opening 2017 Rugby League World Cup Games:
28th October Papua New Guinea v Wales Port Moresby, PNG
5th November Fiji v Wales Townsville, Australia
12th November Wales v Ireland Perth, Australia
For details on how to sponsor Wales in their World Cup campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the first league match from Celtic Crusaders' 2007 National League Two title winning side as well as the match report.
REPORT 2007 - CO-OPERATIVE NATIONAL LEAGUE TWO ROUND 1 - London Skolars 18 Celtic Crusaders 42
Friday 6th April 2007
Crusaders took an early lead when Terry Martin weaved past the Skolars defence to ground under the sticks on two minutes. Quinn easily converted.
Neil Budworth fed Gareth Dean who dived over in the same spot as Martin to score the second try in the first set from kick-off. Quinn had no problems making it 12-0.
But the Skolars struck back on 12 minutes after Kurt Pittman fed Jermaine Coleman to go over, converting his own try.
Coleman was then the hero at the other end, doing well to make a try-saving tackle on a speedy Paul Ballard, knocking him into touch when the Crusaders wingman had sprinted 40 metres after picking up a loose ball.
And it was the excellent loose forward who set up the Skolars next try, feeding Chris Shears to go over in the corner, but he missed the tricky conversion so the Crusaders had a tight two-point lead going into the 20 minute mark.
Crusaders regained their advantage on 21 minutes. Luke Young made the break and fed Craig Richards who danced past Pete Hodgkinson to score his fifth try in as many games since his transfer from rugby union. Quinn's kick gave the Welsh an eight-point lead.
The mercurial Young, playing his best game of the season so far, attempted to set another up for Richards but his grubber was picked up by Hodgkinson. However the London full-back was brought down by Richards forcing a kick from under the sticks.
From the drop-out, the Crusaders scored again as Paul Ballard made a welcome comeback from injury, finishing off a good passing move by scoring in the corner.
They almost got a fifth try minutes later. Jace Van Dijk fed Chris Beasley but the substitute was denied a try in his first match of the season as pressure caused him to drop the ball as was diving over the line.
But the Crusaders did eventually cross again before half-time, Richards running in for his second try after good work from Young and Martin, and Quinn set up Richard Johnston to score on 39 minutes to make the half-time score 32-10.
Johnston brilliantly went through for his second six minutes after the interval with Quinn converting again.
It took over 20 minutes for the Crusaders to increase their lead again - an unconverted Dean Fitzgerald try - as they slightly took their foot off the gas but still defended well to keep the Skolars out.
Skolars thought they had a try back minutes later but William Webster was just beaten to the ball by Young following a grubber kick into the goal area.
But the home side weren't to be a consolation as Kurt Pittman forced his way over while Coleman grabbed his second try just as the clock ticked over to 80 minutes.
So with one game down and 21 to go in the Crusaders' quest for promotion, Blackpool, who were narrowly beat 40-34 at home to Swinton, await on Monday. London face a tricky trip to York City Knights who lost 26-18 at Gateshead.
LONDON SKOLARSPete HodgkinsonCorey SimmsChris ShearsJake KerrWilliam WebsterChris LyntonPaul ThormanAlan BarkerGareth HonorRichard LouwKurt PittmanLydan MaituaJermaine ColemanSubs (all used)Steve GreenJoe PriceDave BrownRubert Jonker
Tries: Coleman (12, 80), Shears (16), Pittman (73)Goals: Coleman 1/4
CELTIC CRUSADERSRichard JohnstonPaul BallardRob ToshackMark Dalle CortCraig RichardsLuke YoungJace Van DijkHywel DaviesNeil BudworthGareth DeanTerry MartinDean FitzgeraldDamien QuinnSubs (all used)Chris BeasleyJamie I'AnsonPhil CushionLee Williams
Tries: Martin (2), Dean (5), Richards (21, 35), Ballard (27), Johnston (39, 46), Fitzgerald (67)Goals: Quinn 5/8
Attendance: 211Referee: Dave MerrickHalf-time: 10-32