24th April 2018, 18:55
Could Welsh honours be next for the Glantaf rugby league players?
The Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf year 10 rugby league side have had to suffer something that doesn’t often happen to them – a defeat! But it's not the end of the road for Glantaf's talented players...
The Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf year 10 rugby league side have had to suffer something that doesn’t often happen to them – a defeat!
But it's not the end of the road for Glantaf's talented players in 2018 as international honours could be just around the corner.
This Tuesday, Glantaf travelled to Hull to face Malet Lambert School in the National Champion Schools quarter-finals and lost 19-18 in golden point extra time.
The two sides met at the same location three years ago in the year 7 quarter finals where Glantaf won 12-10 and Glantaf’s coach Rhydian Garner remembered that encounter well when tweeting congratulations to Malet Lambert.
From @rygbiglantaf, he tweeted: “Llongyfarchiadau i @MaletLambertPE. After a dramatic final play try three years ago, the tables were turned up in Hull today. Malet took the game in golden play extra time with a fine drop goal. Pob lwc y rownd gyn derfynol.”
Llongyfarchiadau i @MaletLambertPE after a dramatic final play try 3 years ago the tables were turned up in Hull today, Melet took the game in golden play extra time with a fine drop goal. Pob lwc y rownd gyn derfynol— Rygbi Glantaf (@RygbiGlantaf) April 24, 2018
The Hull school tweeted: “Well done to the Y10 rugby team who produced their best ever performance to defeat double National Cup champions Glantaf 19-18 with a golden point drop goal.”
It’s only this group of Glantaf players’ second ever loss in 26 games since they started playing rugby league nearly four years ago, and they’ve still never been outscored on tries in a match.
The school made history in 2015 by becoming the first ever Welsh rugby league side to win a match at Wembley Stadium following their 40-6 win over Wade Deacon of Widnes in the national year 7 final and were featured on a documentary on S4C. They were guests of honour at Wales’ historic European Championship win over France in Cardiff later that year as a reward.
A year later, they faced the same opponents in the year 8 final in Richmond, losing out 16-14 after being outscored 2-1 on conversions.
Then last year, they were in London again and completely dominated the year 9 final, beating Mirfield Free Grammar School from Yorkshire 28-0.
Wales won’t have any representatives in this year’s finals day, which this year has moved from London to the north of England for only the second time ever. St John the Baptist School from Aberdare also getting to the quarter finals, this in the year 9 competition, only to lose 48-10 to Archbishop Sebtamu Academy of Hull.
However, despite the defeats for both Glantaf and St John's, it’s not the final game of rugby league that many of these 14 and 15 year olds will play this year. Some of the Glantaf players are already training with Super League side with Wigan Warriors and they’ll also now be eligible to play for Wales under 16s, who under head coach Jason Seddon beat England at that level for the first time ever last year.
Seddon, who held the first Wales under 16 performance camp of the year last Saturday in Ystrad Mynach, believes that the potential for success for this age-group in Wales this year is beyond that of 2017.
"We had a number of Glantaf lads coming into the performance camp and they're part of a very strong squad," Seddon said. "All of them are under 15 so will give us continuity for two years, if indeed they are selected for Wales.
"The success of both Glantaf and Wales under 16s last year has created a lot of competition for places. At the performance camp we had many new players and there is some unbelievable talent coming through. I’m confident in saying we’ll be significantly stronger, in both talent and size, than last year, and that’s just the under 15s we’re talking about, not the higher age level.
"I’m really excited as last year we only scratched the surface. Now we’re seeing the rewards as players in Wales have been engaged after seeing how we beat England. We’ve more kudos now and a lot more players want to play rugby league for Wales and it’s driven up the competition for places. We’ve also got two lads coming over from London Broncos too and they’re both very talented.
"The intensity of the camp last weekend was very high and selection for me will be more difficult than last year. After seeing the talent, I came away last Saturday very excited, hugely impressed and it gives me a lot of confidence."