The 2013 season came to an end for several clubs at the weekend and no doubt many players will be marking that in traditional fashion over the coming days.
One group of players who will have special reason to celebrate have created one of the more remarkable stories of the year, as they fought tooth and nail on Sunday to ensure North Wales Crusaders secured automatic promotion by beating the Scorpions in a full-blooded Welsh derby that meant they were crowned Champions of the Kingstone Press Championship 1.
That Rugby League should be alive at all in Wrexham after the Super League franchise proved to be such a letdown to so many people is welcome, but the fact that 1,500 people should turn up to witness the achievement of coach Clive Griffiths and his team is remarkable.
The Championship was an amazing turnaround for a club that had every right to disappear completely less than two years ago. Clive Griffiths claimed that the title-win ranked as his greatest moment in club rugby, which for someone who has been around a long time in club rugby of both codes, is saying something.
And for those who think that winning the third tier isn’t a hill of beans, the Crusaders’ progress this year attracted global interest, with Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe wishing the side good luck via the social network going into the match.
There were also scenes of great celebration at Huddersfield on Sunday evening as the Giants were presented with the League Leaders Shield with one game still left to play in Super League. It’s taken considerably longer than the Crusaders to climb to their current position, but it was wonderful to see such joy on the pitch at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Championship League Leaders for the fourth year running, Featherstone Rovers, will have to wait a week until they are presented with their Shield, when the Championship eight-team play-offs get underway.
But we would like to add our congratulations to all three clubs, and also to Huddersfield scrum-half Danny Brough, whose two Albert Goldthorpe points in the Giants’ impressive win over Wakefield means he is now in an unassailable position to win the Medal for the second time.
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