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The Future is League

Rugby League the fastest growing sport in Wales

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I am convinced that the secret in Wales is getting juniors playing both codes. Rugby in Wales has exactly the same standing that it has in Wigan. I have no doubt Welsh youngsters play with a rugby ball at breaks / dinners just as Wigan youngsters do. Elsewhere you see a football 99 times out of a 100. It is obvious the talent to play RL exists in Wales because the two youngsters at Wire, Evans? are 2 such examples. Some Welsh youngsters will be better suited to Union some to League and the extremely gifted can play either but somehow we need to organise the Academic sporting year so conflict is minimised.

The two Welsh posters IMO emphasise the importance of development officers and the work they and volunteers do. Somebody previously mentioned Oldham. Oldham continues to produce talented RL players irrespective of the pro clubs fortunes. Cumbria is exactly the same. I don't think development needs a professional club. It helps but it is the people you never know exist or hear about that are vital. When RL was at its lowest ebb in Wigan in the late 70's and very early 80's it was still strong in some schools and amateur clubs like St Patricks and St Judes were the cornerstone then as they are today albeit the resurgence of Wigan at a pro level led to growth and clubs like St James, Shevington, Chorley, Leyland etc etc.

The pro clubs in Wales. I have high hopes for Iestyn Harris developing the Wrexham club. Yes I know where he was brought up but Wales matters to him. For others, talk is cheap. Brian Noble went to Wrexham with no intention of staying hence he never signed a contract. He told a Wigan player at the announcement that he was going to Australia in 12 months time as a head coach (wrong) and he told that player weeks ago he would be leaving to become assistant coach at Penrith Panthers when the 2010 season ended. Try to marry reality with what he says in the press. Not the same are they. Yet, the RL old boys network will praise Noble as coach of the year, a modern day RL evangelist when the reality is Taffy Bloggs et al are the real heroes. They develop RL be it in Wales, Wigan, Leeds, London wherever.

I would love to see a map of Wales with all the amateur clubs / schools playing RL and the numbers shown. I think you will find investment / the presence of a DO / a teacher / an individual correlate with growth. RL is it's own worst enemy. We introduced a salary cap system before addressing the player supply issue and cry now there are not enough players. We took the SKY money but what % were the clubs prepared to set aside for player development across the U.K. No vision and squabbling like vultures over every crumb of the SKY cake.

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