A rare Student double-header will take place in Wales on Sunday (11 December), with the Wales Student World Cup fund set to benefit.
The games, which follow successful World Cup trials at the end of last month, involve the University of South Wales and Aberystwyth University (1.00pm) and, at 3.00pm, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Swansea University.
Both matches will be staged at South Wales Ironmen’s new home at The Wern, Merthyr Tydfil.
Wales Students Head Coach Latham Tawhai said of the trials: “It was a really good turn out. There were players we’d not seen in the Wales set-up before, alongside others who have already played for Wales.
“We had a good mix of youth and experience and, I feel, an improved standard on last year.”
Tawhai will be monitoring form next week and revealed: “We’ll tick a training squad to go forward to the next session in Deeside on 18 December, and we’ll take another look at the group in January with a view to working towards cutting the party back to 30 players.”
He added: “We’re hoping for a good crowd as Student Rugby League is always self-funded and we need cash to help support our trip to Australia for next year’s World Cup.
“We get a set of kit from Wales Rugby League but everything else is up to us as a squad, and from kind donations from sponsors, supporters, family, friends and well-wishers.
“Please donate what you can and help the future of Rugby League in Wales, club and country. Some of these players will hopefully go on to play for Ironmen if they’re in the south, or the Crusaders in the north, as well as maybe winning full Welsh honours. We are an important development tool for the future of the game in Wales.”
Wales Students, who are ranked fourth in the world and have reached the semi-finals in each of the last two World Cups, require £100,000 to meet the cost of next July’s trip to Sydney. The players will also be hoping to follow in the footsteps of those predecessors who have gravitated to the professional ranks and, in some instances, have become full Wales internationals.
Those ambitions are threatened by the likely withdrawal of £70,000 funding by the Rugby Football League from Welsh Rugby League as a whole by the end of next year and Wales Students team manager Mark Jones said: “The whole trip is completely funded by the players with each player contributing more than £3000 to represent their country. Wales Students got to the semi-finals in the 2013 World Cup and our goal is to win it in 2017. Please help us achieve that goal.”
Donations can be made by attending Sunday’s match and/or by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wales-students-world-cup.