15th September 2011, 07:49
North Wales Crusaders' final game of 2011
The last Rugby League side to use the name
The last Rugby League side to use the name "Crusaders" in 2011, is in action this Sunday.
North Wales Crusaders under 18s, the side set up and coached by the Crusaders' Community Development Manager Matt Pritchard, complete their first ever season in the prestigious Gillette Conference Youth League this Sunday when they take on Leigh East at Ellesmere College in Shropshire (kick off 1:30pm) and they are looking look to end the season on a high.
Win or lose, the side will finish ninth in the Western Division of this league and have recorded notable victories against more established opposition from Widnes, Warrington and Cumbria, while two of their players were good enough to play in the Crusaders' Super League Academy side.
And with the decision being made this week as to whether the Crusaders club will be accepted in the Co-operative Championship, the Wales Rugby League governing body has congratulated the Crusaders on their excellent progress on developing a successful youth team in North Wales in such a short space of time.
Wales Rugby League's National Development Manager Mark Jones said: "We'd like to send a big congratulations up to North Wales Crusaders under 18s for their excellent work this season. We weren't expecting them to be world beaters in their first year but it is to their credit that they did record a few wins and have played and completed the entire season with 100% enthusiasm.
"With Crusaders looking to compete in the Championship from next season, this under 18 side will be the future of their club. I'm sure that one or two of this year's side will get their chance at playing Championship Rugby League next year if this does occur and that is excellent for the game of Rugby League in Wales.
"We at Wales Rugby League wish them all the best this Sunday and I'm sure we'll see them grow in 2012."
Matt Pritchard said: "It's been a pleasure to coach these lads week in week out. All the clubs in the league are talking about how much we have come on since we first played them earlier in the year and how well disciplined we are, which is a credit to the players.
"This Sunday is our last game of the season, it's certainly been a tough year. However playing tough sides increases our level of performance and provides us with valuable experience.
"I talked to the lads last night at training and they have loved playing the game for the first time this year. There are a few lads who have now gone to university and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them good luck and all the best for the future."
The Crusaders club have proposed to form an under 16 side to feed into this under 18 side and in turn the first team, should the Rugby Football League give them the green light this week to continue in the Cooperative Championship.
Yesterday (Wednesday), the Save The Cru campaign, announced that the Crusaders have already exceeded last year's season ticket applications, despite the club dropping out of Super League.
The Campaign, who have the full support of Crusaders Supporters Club, meet with the Rugby Football League today with all of this evidence, to propose that the Crusaders will now be run as a community club in a similar style to the very successful Rochdale Hornets, who have been one of the best run clubs in Rugby League since they became a club run by the supporters less than three years ago.
"Our proposal is for a Community club with a wide spread of ownership and with a large number of shares held by the fans and fan representation on the Board," said Jamie Roberts from Save The Cru. "For the avoidance of doubt, Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts would not be involved.
"We believe we have done all we can and when the final plan goes in, we'll have given it everything. It's then up to the RFL to pass judgement and we expect some kind of indication within a week."
With this kind of development already linked to the club in North Wales, it would be no less than a tragedy for players and fans alike if the sport's governing body in the United Kingdom don't give them a place.