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Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 16:02 UK

Crusaders to play at Racecourse

John Dixon
Celtic Crusaders coach John Dixon backs their all-Wales road trip

John Dixon insists Celtic Crusaders playing Super League matches in Wrexham is vital for rugby league's development in Wales.

The Crusaders' blueprint is to develop league interest in the whole of Wales so the side will play at least one match at the Racecourse next season.

"It is a positive step to promote rugby league in Wales, said head coach Dixon.

The Crusaders have been in Bridgend since their inception but they will move to Newport from next campaign.

The Welsh club's game in North Wales will be nearer rugby league's traditional heartlands of the north of England and could be a huge cash generator.

The Crusaders, who are coming to the end of the first year of their three-year Super League franchise, say Wrexham's Racecourse ground could host as many as three fixtures in 2009/10.

The move follows last month's news that the Crusaders will be based at Rodney Parade, Newport, next season, where they will play 10 Super League games.

Crusaders chief Leighton Samuel is also considering playing Super League fixtures at Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets as rugby league bid to establish themselves in traditionally rugby union territory.

Wrexham's Racecourse Ground
The Racecourse, Wrexham and north Wales have been sadly starved of professional rugby for many years

Wrexham statement

"It is very important to take the games around Wales," said Dixon.

"This is a nation with a proud rugby heritage and we're proud of our version of the game.

"So our process of taking league games around Wales to promote our sport is a really positive step in the right direction and a real opportunity for rugby league and rugby union to sit by a side.

"And our development plan is not just to satisfy the south of Wales but the whole of Wales."

Bridgend's Brewery Field was deemed below standard by the Rugby Football League.

The switch to Rodney Parade - the stadium of rugby union region the Dragons and Welsh Premiership side Newport RFC - will be for two years.

The Crusaders' long-term ambition is to return to a purpose-built stadium in Bridgend.

The Welsh side were one of five Super League clubs who were warned by the RFL that their ground was not up to standard, meaning their place in the league could be in doubt.

Crusaders lie bottom of the table with three wins from their 25 Super League matches.

They will have just one more game at the Brewery Field, when they host Huddersfield Giants on Saturday, 5 September.

"We are delighted to be playing a game in Wrexham in 2010," said Crusaders' chief executive Mike Turner.

"Their chief executive Paul Retout and everyone involved at Wrexham FC have been very helpful and very welcoming and I'm certain we're going to get a large crowd.


"We've always said that we were a team for the whole of Wales.

"Taking the Crusaders into north Wales gives us the opportunity to take Super League to a brand new set of fans and I'm sure that there will also be a very large away following with Wrexham being a stone's throw from the traditional rugby league heartlands."

Wrexham last staged a major rugby league match in 2001 when Wales and England fought out a 14-try thriller that the English scraped 42-33.

It was played in front of a 6,373 crowd and if that is bettered then it would be a club record for the Crusaders.

"This is a major coup for the Racecourse, Wrexham and north Wales that has been sadly starved of professional rugby for many years," said a Wrexham statement.

"We are blessed in north Wales with a fantastic stadium that in recent years has only been used to host football matches.

"The deal with Celtic Crusaders is part of a strategy to diversify the use of the stadium.

"The deal signed with Celtic Crusaders is a very lucrative one for Wrexham FC who will also benefit from selling rugby merchandise in the club shop."

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see also
Crusaders 16-42 Huddersfield
05 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders see hope after misery
24 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to make Newport switch
21 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
League clubs warned over stadia
21 Jul 09 |  Rugby League
Sport Wales: The TV programme
28 Sep 09 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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