WALES Rugby League host their annual Grand Finals Day this Sunday at Glamorgan Wanderers RFC in Cardiff, with the WRL Premier League Final between Torfaen Tigers and Valley Cougars taking centre stage at 3pm writes Ian Golden.
It’s a big day for the Tigers who also compete in the Under 17s final where they take on hosts Cardiff Blue Dragons (kick-off 1.30pm) and the Under 15s final where they face West Wales Raiders (kick-off 12.15pm). The day opens at 11am where Raiders’ Under 13s face Bridgend Blue Bulls.
The Premier League game is a repeat of the 2013 Final, the last encounter where all community sides were playing in Wales, which saw the Tigers win 24-18.
Tigers’ chairman Rob Davies, who could take both a playing and coaching role on the day, is looking forward to the whole event. His club competed in three finals last year but went back to Cwmbran without a trophy so they’ll be determined to put things right this year.
“Tigers v Cougars is the final that most people predicted back in May,” he said. “The clubs have a fierce rivalry built on mutual respect. They’ve done the double over us this year so we are desperate to repeat 2013’s heroics and take the bragging rights into 2018. One thing’s for certain, whoever wins there’ll be 34 bodies waking up on Monday morning knowing that they’ve been in a battle.
“For our Under 15s, it’s been a season of continual improvement as we built on the momentum that was generated last season. The players have enjoyed the opportunity to play Rugby League in what has been a competitive league. We know the Raiders are a good side who pose a tough test and that whoever is crowned champions at the end of the game will have earned the title.
“It’s been a frustrating season at Under 17s as a number of sides pulled out during the season but for the third time in three years, these two groups of players will battle it out for the right to be crowned Welsh Champions. Cardiff were favourites in 2015 but we came away with the win, whilst we were favourites last year but Cardiff gained vengeance in the dying moments. It promises to be a lively, physical encounter with both sides knowing not to underestimate the other.”
Valley Cougars are going into the Welsh Grand Final with some injury concerns but their coach Lee Goddard knows that whoever is selected will give 100 per cent.
“It was a great team performance last Saturday in the semi-final,” he said. “We know that we have to repeat that performance and then some. We may have beaten Torfaen twice this season and we may be undefeated but that means nothing when it comes to finals as we know very well.
“This is our fifth Grand Final in a row in whatever competition we’ve been in and we’re wary we’ve won just one of them. We’ll be going down to Cardiff fully focussed to take that trophy back to Treharris.”
Wales Rugby League’s National Development Manager, Idris Evans, said: “It’s certain to be an exciting day of Rugby League at Glamorgan Wanderers RFC, the home of the Cardiff Blue Dragons.
“Getting here to this day of four finals at different levels has been somewhat testing this year for everyone involved. There has been so much going on with the Student World Cup where the open age and Under 17s were specifically affected, South Wales Ironmen changing hands, as well as changes to key staff at several clubs.
“But here we are finally and we’re expecting all eight teams taking to the field on Sunday to produce some memorable matches and I’m sure we’ll be crowning four worthy champions at the end of the day.”
Admission is just £5 adults, £3 for juniors aged 12-16 and free for under 12s.
UNDER 13S FINAL: Bridgend Blue Bulls v West Wales Raiders (11:00am)
UNDER 15S FINAL: West Wales Raiders v Torfaen Tigers (12:15pm)
UNDER 17S FINAL: Cardiff Blue Dragons v Torfaen Tigers (1.30pm)
PREMIER LEAGUE FINAL: Valley Cougars v Torfaen Tigers (3.00pm)