10th March 2011, 08:29
Carmarthen start for youth league on Sunday
The Gillette Conference Youth League kicks off this weekend with Wales
The Gillette Conference Youth League kicks off this weekend with Wales' two entrants, CPC Bears and North Wales Crusaders Juniors, meeting at Carmarthen Athletic RFC in their first match of the season on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm).
The League now features 24 teams from across England and Wales which has been split geographically into East and West divisions, with the top three from each going through to the end of season play offs.
It was won by the old Celtic Crusaders Colts in 2008-09 when it was winter-based and previously known as the Gillette National Youth League, and is switching to a March to November playing season and has been rebranded ready for the new campaign.
A exciting south versus north clash is on store on Sunday in Carmarthen with the Bears side hoping to continue their fine form at youth level.
Last year they reached the Grand Final of the Welsh under 17 competition, only to be defeated 20-18 to a last minute try by Penallta Storm, the only game that they lost in 2010.
But it's the first outing for North Wales Crusaders Juniors who recently held open trials, an evening overseen by Engage Super League Crusaders head coach and former dual code international Iestyn Harris as well as local community coaches.
Harris has been a huge supporter of developing Welsh talent in his roles at both Crusaders and with the Welsh national side and believes there is a massive amount of talent around the region.
"I believe Wrexham and North Wales is very much an un-tapped resource when it comes to young rugby players," he said. "Our North Wales side will be competing in the Gillette Conference Youth League against some of the best young sides in the country. That is a huge statement of our intent to develop the game here in the region.
"A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes to make this happen and I am looking forward to seeing first hand the reservoir of talent we have here."
In addition to our two Welsh sides, six more new clubs enter the competition for 2011 with Hunslet Warriors, Wigan St Judes, Leeds Milford Marlins, Warrington Rylands Sharks, Warrington Crosfields and Halton Farnworth Hornets all joining.
Andy Harland, RFL National Development Manager said: "We are delighted to welcome the newcomers into the fold.
"Having so many enter has meant some changes to the structure of the league but the introduction of two sides from Wales along with the continued inclusion of sides like Hemel Stags and Gateshead Thunder means we have a truly national feel to the competition."
Gillette Conference Youth League 2011
Bradford Dudley Hill
Castleford Lock Lane
Keighley Cougar Cubs
Leeds Milford Marlins
Halton Farnworth Hornets
Ince Rose Bridge
Leigh Miners Rangers
North Wales Crusaders
Warrington Rylands Sharks
Thatto Heath Crusaders
Widnes West Bank
Wigan St Judes