The whole of Rugby League in South Wales will potentially be behind South Wales Ironmen when they take on Toronto Wolfpack at The Wern in Merthyr Tydfil on Saturday 10th June (kick-off 5pm).
The match is the biggest of the season for the Ironmen as they will battle to become the first side to beat the Canadian-based outfit in the League.
Saturday is normally, and still will be, a big day for the Welsh Premier League, but on this particular Saturday, two clubs have agreed to kick their matches off early to allow all players and fans of those sides to travel to Merthyr to also support the Ironmen.
Both games are quite nearby, Rhondda Outlaws hosting Torfaen Tigers at Sardis Road in Pontypridd (kick-off 1pm) and Valley Cougars taking on Bridgend Blue Bulls in Treharris (kick-off noon).
Cardiff Blue Dragons v West Wales Raiders, due to take place at Glamorgan Wanderers, has been postponed so that both sides can travel to Merthyr Tydfil for the big Welsh Premier League day out.
The Raiders, who will be taking coaches to the game from Llanelli, have also organised an incentive alongside the Ironmen so that all under 13 and 15 junior members of Rugby League clubs in South Wales can attend free of charge.
South Wales Ironmen will be hosting a double header of matches with their under 17 side taking on Republic of Ireland Eagles (kick-off 2.30pm).
The Ironmen played a triple header of games for the first time ever last Saturday and whilst the first team and reserves both lost to Keighley Cougars, the under 17s tasted victory against a local league side in Keighley.
Idris Evans, the national development manager at Wales Rugby League said: “It’s marvellous that all of our member clubs want to support South Wales Ironmen in what is a very big event for them. The match is being shown live on TV in the UK, Ireland, Canada and others, so the eyes of the world will be on Wales once again. I don’t know of any club member who doesn’t want to watch an event like this. It’ll be a great day of Rugby League in the area.”
Toronto Wolfpack have won every game they’ve played this season and were only knocked out of the Challenge Cup 29-22 by a Salford Red Devils who are competing well near to the top of the Super League table.
The South Wales Ironmen side need the support of every sports fan in the area. Tickets are selling well and can be bought by going to www.ironmenrl.wales.
WHO ARE TORONTO WOLFPACK?
Toronto Wolfpack are the first ever professional North American rugby side. They have entered the Rugby Football League system in the hope of winning two promotions to earn a place in Super League.
WHY HAVE THEY BEEN SO GOOD SO FAR?
Not many of the side are Canadian! They have spent big money to bring in former Super League players so they can earn a place in the top flight.
HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT RUGBY LEAGUE?
The Rugby League World Cup is being held in USA and Canada in 2025. A strong Canadian domestic side will mean more Canadian born players coming through and a stronger host nation. Canada, like Wales, needs domestic sides to build a creditable international side.
HOW IS THIS ALL BEING PAID FOR?
The UK sides and governing body don’t have to pay for a thing. Toronto’s multi-million dollar sponsorship and their crowds of over 6,000 a game means that they can pay for the away sides to go to Toronto and for their players to come over here. A group of 10 businessmen, including Canadians and Australians, own the club.
WHO COACHES THEM?
Their head coach is Paul Rowley, formerly of Leigh Centurions and their director of rugby is Brian Noble, who has previously coached Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls, Great Britain and Celtic Crusaders!
WHO ARE THEIR BIG STARS?
Make a list. Their players are all big names in Rugby League. But those are worth a big mention are Canadian international Rhys Jacks, Welsh internationals Jacob Emmitt and Dan Fleming, USA international Ryan Burroughs, Scottish international Ryan Brierley, Irish international Bob Beswick, Samoan international Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e (known as QLT) and the powerhouse Fuifui Moimoi who has represented both Tonga and New Zealand in the World Cup.
WHAT ABOUT THE IRONMEN? WHO ARE THEIR INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS?
South Wales Ironmen continually produce full Wales international stars. Their biggest name right now is Christiaan Roets, the second highest Wales try scorer of all time. The Ironmen’s highest points scorer of all time, Paul Emanuelli, is also a Welsh international, as are players like Andrew Gay, Connor Farrer, Ashley Bateman and Morgan Evans.
HOW CAN I GET TICKETS?
Go to www.ironmenrl.wales and buy online. You will be able to buy tickets on the door at The Wern but it’s worth buying in advance to avoid the large queues.