16th December 2010, 15:35
Wales Students set for New Year
The Wales Student Rugby League side will this Sunday begin...
The Wales Student Rugby League side will this Sunday begin the preparations for the 2011 season with international trials, just a mere ten days after the end of the previous campaign.
Wales will again defend their regional championships crown in Nottingham in February before taking on England, Ireland and hosts Scotland in the British International Student Championships at Easter.
This year, Wales had four players in the Great Britain Students side that took on, and did admirably against the Australians in the recent Academic Ashes tour, but that was just the icing on the cake of a remarkable season.
The cream of the county's SRL talent assembled at Nottingham University in April for the eight team regional championships tournament, run over two days. Taking part were strong regional teams from Yorkshire, North West, North East, Midlands, South and South West plus squads from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Wales entered the competition with just two surviving members of the 2009 team but still created a bit of WSRL history by winning the 2010 Championships for the very first time.
After defeating a much fancied Yorkshire outfit, drawn mainly from the BUCS Champions Leed Met Uni, Wales then showed great character in defeating the holders North West 14-13 in a tense and hard fought final.
This landmark victory was to stand the team in good stead for the tough season ahead.
Wales next went on to compete in the Cheltenham 9s and opened their account with an historic and dominant 26-14 win over Featherstone Rovers.
They were even more dominant in their second game as holders, The British Army, had no answer to their skills. 10-0 up at half time, Wales went on to win 24-4.
Wales Students reached the All Golds Final with a close 16-14 win over another semi pro team, Oldham Roughyeds. However, the game was marred by the serious knee injury to captain Steve Hall which ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately they fell 12-32 to Warrington Wolves in the Final.
Manager Phil Melling, who sowed the seeds for the growth of Student rugby league in the 1970's, summed up Wales's performance.
"On April 24th 2010 Wales Students reached the finals of the Cheltenham Nines Rugby Festival.
"This performance ranks as one of the best displays from a student side that I have seen in the 32 years that I have been involved in a managerial and coaching capacity with Welsh and British Student Rugby League teams.
"For sheer ability, tenacity, passion and guts the performance of the Welsh Students side was truly exceptional.
"Considering that many of these were lads are still maturing and still in their teens the back to back performances against professional opponents is something I have not previously witnessed."
Wales warmed up for the 2010 Home Nations Championships at Young Munster in Limerick with a confident 54-6 victory over the Royal Marines.
However what can only be described as a 'mad 20 minutes' against England in the opening fixture meant that Wales were unable to retain the title they won in Leeds 12 months earlier.
With the scores locked at 6-6 twenty minutes into the first half, the English benefited from some loose tackling and ball retention to register four unanswered converted tries to lead 30-6 at half time.
To Wales's immense credit they recovered in the second period and got back to 18-30 before a breakaway England try ended all thoughts of a comeback.
From that half time point Wales showed great character and conceded just three more tries in the remainder of the tournament whilst registering 18 tries!
Both Ireland 42-0 and Scotland 50-8 were put to the sword in convincing fashion.
Eighteen new caps in a squad of twenty two augurs well for forthcoming campaigns.
The following players were then selected for the Great Britain & Ireland Lions squad to prepare for the Ashes Series against Australia in December.
Rhys Griffiths (Leeds Met)
Mark Wool (Leeds Met)
Patrick Evans (Gloucester)
Harry Mostyn (Loughborough)
Kris Wilkes (Llandrillo College)
Owain Brown (Glyndwr) was selected but had to withdraw through injury.
Coach Clive Griffiths is now looking to add to his squad for next season and build for the 2012 World Cup so the next couple of seasons are going to be vital for anyone interested in playing for Wales Students.
Those who are interested in playing in the trials before Christmas please firstname.lastname@example.org.