There will be more Welsh-born players in a national, professional Rugby League game for over 100 years tomorrow, when University of Gloucestershire All Golds take on South Wales Scorpions on Good Friday at the significantly named Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham (3pm).
The Scorpions have named a 100% Welsh born 19-man squad for the second game in row, while their opponents could field up to six – with five being former Scorpions.
Celtic Crusaders once fielded a squad with 15 Welsh born players and there was an eight team Welsh competition from 1949-55, but you have to go back to 27th December 1910 when Ebbw Vale took on Merthyr Tydfil to find even the possibility of more Welshmen playing in one match in the English professional system.
A number of the Scorpions players have had game time with either the Cougars or Torfaen Tigers during Scorpions’ three weeks without a match but Lewis Tutt, named in Scorpions’ 19-man squad for Friday, went a bit further afield to play for his personal sponsor, Forces Exiles, in last weekend’s Hong Kong Tens, helping them to a Shield Final win.
South Wales Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “We’re looking forward to it and glad that the league is finally kicking off. I hope we can improve or keep the same level of performance we had against York, I was pleased with that. But most of all there’s no pressure on the boys, I just want them to go out there and enjoy it.
“We’ve had a bit more preparation time this year and we’ve got a few of our former Academy lads in there to bring a bit of energy to the group. It’s been good to have a couple of months to get everyone bonded and the lads have enjoyed it and are looking forward to the game.
“Gloucestershire must have about seven or eight lads from South Wales. I know those boys and there’s some quality in their squad. With the lads knowing each other, it adds a bit more spice, it’s a local derby and I suppose anything can happen on the day. But there’s no pressure on the lads, they just need to go out there and give their best.”
The All Golds are expected to name Welsh born players Jamie Murphy, Steve Parry, Lewis Reece, Izaak Duffy, Chris Vitalini and Courtney Davies in their 19-man squad.