The Self Isolation Chronicles: West Wales Raiders

1. One of their current squad suffers from deafness.

West Wales Raiders forward Ryan Shallish has a remarkable and unique trait in the sport. He suffers from impaired hearing and requires the assistance of a hearing aid, but hasn’t let that stop him entering the professional ranks with West Wales. He was part of the Wales Deaf Rugby Union set up and was part of the team who won the Deaf World Sevens Championships, in Australia, in 2018. He was also named Player of the Tournament, scoring eight tries and a vital score in the final where they beat England. Shallish first tasted Rugby League with WRL Premier League side Cardiff Blue Dragons, and was quickly fast-tracked into the East Wales Origin team. A West Wales Raiders open trial followed, in 2018, and he played in a development game against the Blue Dragons. His impressive performances saw him drafted into the side, having established himself as an important impact player for the Welsh outfit in the past two seasons.

2. They started the head-coaching career of a current NRL coach.

In their South Wales Scorpions guise, the club gave current Brisbane Broncos chief Anthony Seibold his first number one job. The 45-year-old had served as John Dixon’s assistant at Celtic Crusaders, from 2006 to 2009, and was appointed Scorpions coach for the following season. He led them to the play-offs in the Championship 1 in his first and only season, before returning to Australia. The one-time Germany international then served as Craig Bellamy’s assistant at Melbourne Storm, before landing the South Sydney Rabbitohs gig in 2017. In a bizarre twist of fate, he would job swap with Wayne Bennett ahead of the 2019 season, joining the Broncos.

3. Eight of their academy prospects have played for the City of Hull Academy.

In 2017, West Wales Raiders and the formerly merged City of Hull Academy, between Hull FC and Hull KR, signed a partnership that would see Welsh players get the opportunity to gain experience. Promising twins Ewan and Ieuan Badham (above) were snapped up to play for the Academy side, as was their teammate Iestyn Hopkins. Five under-15 players were also snapped up by Hull, from the Raiders: Morgan Chell, Trystan Rawlings, Keiron Lewis, Alex Jones and Joe Hawkins. Most of the aforementioned players have moved back to Wales to play rugby union, with the exception of Ewan Badham who has featured for Hull FC’s reserves in the last year.

4. They once had a Welsh rugby union star in their squad.

23-time Welsh rugby union international Andy Powell made a short-lived foray into Rugby League, having joined Wigan Warriors in 2013 from Sale Sharks. That came only two years after the prop, who was also part of the 2009 Great Britain Lions tour to South Africa, featured in the Rugby Union World Cup for Wales. Powell would ultimately struggle to establish himself in the Wigan side, signing dual-registration terms with South Wales Scorpions and making two appearances. Powell, who had been linked with a move to Celtic Crusaders in 2010, made his debut in a 36-30 defeat to Gateshead Thunder in an attempt to adapt to the sport quickly. He returned to rugby union, with Newport Gwent Dragons and Merthyr, before turning to coaching with Brecon RFC. Earlier this year, he was back in the news for abusing a taxi driver and fellow passengers, in a career littered with controversial moments ranging from abusing his own fans to a drunken brawl outside of a pub that cost him his contract at Wasps, under the stewardship of Shaun Edwards, no less.

5. A world darts sensation played for the club.

Welsh wonder Gerwyn ‘The Iceman’ Price currently sits at third in the PDC world rankings, is a two-time Grand Slam winner, a 2020 World Championship semi-finalist and a former South Wales Scorpions player. Wait, what. Price played a handful of games for the Scorpions, in 2013, having played a few hundred rugby union games with Welsh Premier Division sides Neath and Cross Keys. At the peak of his powers, the former hooker also had a brief spell with Pro12 side Glasgow Warriors as injury cover for their first choice players. He stopped playing both codes in 2014, to focus on his darts career, and has never looked back.