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Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

New rugby league club South Wales gets the green light

South Wales rugby league will share the Gnoll with rugby union side Neath
South Wales rugby league will share the Gnoll with rugby union side Neath

A new Welsh rugby league club will play in the Championship One division next season, it was confirmed on Friday.

The Rugby Football League board approved an application to launch South Wales RLFC, which will play at Neath rugby's famous Gnoll ground.

The new club will fill the rugby league void in the area left by Super League side Crusaders, who will move from Bridgend to Wrexham for next season.

South Wales will begin life at home against Workington Town on 28 February.

However, the new club will not participate in the Carnegie Challenge Cup or Northern Rail Cup in 2010.

South Wales will ground-share at the Gnoll with rugby union side Neath RFC, the current leaders of the semi-pro Principality Premiership.

The new club are currently interviewing for the position of head coach but Wales national coach Iestyn Harris, who is on the backroom staff of new Crusaders coach Brian Noble, is likely to have some involvement.

Additionally, although the Crusaders will now be based at Wrexham FC's Racecourse Ground rather than the Brewery Field in Bridgend, they will return south to play two 'home' Super League games at the Gnoll.

The RFL chief executive, Nigel Wood, said: "After careful consideration and following close consultation with existing Co-operative Championship clubs, the board felt that welcoming the new club to Championship One was the right thing to do.

"The sport has made great strides in Wales in the last few years and in 2009 over 1500 players have played the sport in the Principality, a 300% increase on participation levels before Celtic Crusaders were formed four years ago.


"The new club is a vital link in the playing pyramid in Wales and maintains a career pathway for the cream of Welsh talent.

"Wales remains a strategically important region for rugby league and we are delighted that Phil Davies and his fellow directors have shown the commitment they have to the sport in South Wales."

The consortium behind South Wales RLFC is headed by local businessman Phil Davies, who will head a wholly Welsh board which also features Mark Rowley, the executive chairman of Wales Rugby League.

Negotiations on the relocation of the Crusaders have been protracted between a Wrexham consortium - led by Wrexham FC owner Geoff Moss - and Crusaders' owner Leighton Samuel reached a critical stage.

The Crusaders are due to kick off Super League XV against defending champions Leeds Rhinos at the Racecourse Ground.

But with just seven weeks to go before the season's start, the BBC's Sport Wales programme understands that a deal was accepted on Friday to buy the Crusaders franchise

That development should alleviate what was a growing anxiety among Rugby Football League officials.

A factor in the Crusaders' favour when they won a three-year Super League licence in 2008 was their location in south Wales.

The new club will help fill the void created by the departure of the Crusaders, although the Neath-based team have long-term ambitions to join Super League.

South Wales will hold an open trial for players for their first season on 10 January at 1300 GMT at the University in Glamorgan playing fields in Trefforest, although potential players must apply to attend.

The initial Crusaders were seen as an "expansion" club from rugby league's north of England stronghold but Wrexham is only 32 miles from Widnes, one of the clubs to miss out on Super League status last time.

The process for awarding Super League licences for 2012-15 will begin next year.

Meanwhile, Harlequins will play the new-look Crusaders in a pre-season friendly in aid of the Jon Wells testimonial, with the match taking place will be played at Rosslyn Park on 16 January.

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see also
Crusaders move to save Wrexham FC
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Bid for new Bridgend-based team
02 Dec 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders recruit half-back Witt
08 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders sign ex-Hull hooker Lee
02 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders face 60,000 visa fine
30 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Leeds face kick-off at Crusaders
18 Nov 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders drop 'Celtic' from name
02 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach
14 Oct 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to make Newport switch
21 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to play at Racecourse
03 Sep 09 |  Crusaders
Six Crusaders are to be deported
18 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders given future assurance
05 Jul 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders lodge new stadium plan
11 Dec 08 |  Crusaders
Crusaders celebrate Super League status
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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