Hello Parksider. I actually live in Eccles and we can't get kids to play Rugby League in Eccles let alone Wales! Just round the corner is Eccles RUFC and they seem to get money thrown at them from all directions while we can't get anything because we are a 100% Rugby League club and not multi sports. It doesn't help having Manchester United a couple of miles away either. Anyway Eccles RUFC are able to afford a full time development officer to go into schools so the only kids we get are those who are already dedicated RL fans.
As for Wales, I rarely missed Celtic Crusaders games even though it was a 430 mile round trip. I used to stay over in the Rhondda valley regularly. In my opinion, yes the sport is definitely growing in schools but at open age it still seems to be Union players giving it a go in the Union off season. I spoke to many people who think Rugby League is a great game but they are just dedicated to their Union clubs. It is ingrained in them. The future of RL in Wales is in schools now and then the open age clubs need to start taking them on after school. Incidentally Wrexham under 12's won at Eccles recently.
When Crusaders moved North I continued to travel South to watch Scorpions for a season because my friends were there, but I just could not take to the lack of atmosphere in Neath and it was a long way to go for Championship 1. I started to watch the Wrexham based club after that, where I have made many new friends and I have to say that NW Crusaders are a very well run club and they do their bit in the community.
In the South, I am quite hopeful for the Valley Cougars making progress at open age level because I found the Valley people to be very much like Northerners and they love their sport and would turn out to watch shirts dry if they had Wales on them. If I was in charge of a RL club in the South they would play at Pontypridd, just at the bottom of the Rhondda, but I know "Ponty" were approached and turned RL down. I think the RU saw it as a threat because when Wales played there once on a Lousy (Weather wise) Friday night, when Cardiff City were on tv live, the attendance would easily rival what the RU team get for their games.