Monday, 14 December 2009
Mark Rowley talks to League Express
OUT of the Ashes of the Crusaders sudden 127-mile relocation from Newport to Wrexham spring South Wales RLFC, Rugby League's newest professional club who will play their first League match on February 28th against Workington Town (kick-off 2pm).
The new club will only play Championship One matches this season and will not enter either the Northern Rail Cup or the Challenge Cup, whose formats had already been agreed upon. They will rely mainly on players who played reserve-team football for the Crusaders last season - the Super League side will no longer run a team at that grade.
Mark Rowley, one of the South Wales directors, told 'League Express' that the club will not sign any players from Australia or New Zealand and that they aim to be in the Championship in two years and applying for a Super League licence in six years.
"It all came about two or three weeks ago when the talk of the Crusaders going to North Wales materialised," said Rowley.
"I'm confident that the structure is all there. We have very good people on board. Phil Davies is the owner of the club and the board of directors includes Mike Nicholas, John Devereux and myself.
"John has been the sponsor of amateur Rugby League in Wales for the last five years. He has a number of business interests.
"Other people have agreed to come on board but that won't be publicised just yet."
The side will play their matches at The Gnoll, the home of Neath RUFC, which holds up to 6,000 people and Rowley is confident of attracting healthy first-year crowds, claiming that any negativity among local Rugby League fans over the Crusaders relocation has been extinguished by the formation of the new club.
"We've budgeted a worst-case scenario of 200 a game but we're confident that we'll get 600-700 a game," he said.
"I thought there was some negativity around to be fair, but people seem to be coming round and we've answered some people's questions. The birth of a new club will alleviate the frustration here.
"In six years we hope to be able to compete for a Super League licence and we hope to be in the Championship in two years, even though this first year might not be easy.
"As for players, none are signed on at the moment but there will be an open trial on 3 January for League or union players to come along. The player base is fantastic here and we'll be able to use players who were in the Crusaders reserve team last season.
"We'll be a 99 percent Welsh club which will be good for our identity. We won't be importing any players at all from Australia or New Zealand. We want Welsh players to go on and play Super League.
"Moving from the Conference to the Super League is too big a step. They need this middle ground in order to go on and play Super League."
Rowley is confident that the new outfit will soon be able to announce a new coach.
"I can't say anything about the new coach at the moment but we will be interviewing three or four people this week," he said.