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Crusaders' move may cause animosity - Jonathan Davies

Wrexham's Racecourse Ground
Wrexham's Racecourse Ground will be the Crusaders' new home

Former dual-code international Jonathan Davies says there may be ill-feeling as the Crusaders move to north Wales.

Davies says some clubs who missed out in the bidding process for a Super League franchise may feel aggrieved the Crusaders have been allowed to go.

"I'm sure there will be slight animosity because they've moved very near to the heartland of rugby league," Davies told BBC Wales.

Super League rookies Crusaders confirmed the move on Tuesday.

It will take them to the Racecourse Ground, which they will share with Wrexham FC after just one Super League season in Bridgend.

This follows an initial plan announced in August to play the next two seasons at Rodney Parade in Newport, south east Wales.

Davies fears rugby league has again failed to make its mark in south Wales.

"It [the Crusaders franchise] didn't perform that great on the field and finances have been a problem off it," said Davies.

"It's been moved up there [to Wrexham] purely for financial reasons."

It was a disappointing debut in Super League for the Crusaders, who won just three games in the league and had the embarrassment of seeing six of their players deported for breaching visa regulations.

Crusaders, who have dropped 'Celtic' from their name, had to wait until May to record their first Super League win, but claimed the notable scalp of winning at big guns Bradford.

A first home win arrived in June against Wigan, with fellow new boys Salford becoming the Crusaders' third win.


With wins proving elusive it was always going to be an uphill struggle to attract supporters to the Brewery Field.

Attendance peaked at a respectable 6,351 for the 4-0 loss to St Helens, but generally the fan numbers hovered around the 3,000 mark.

John Dixon was the head coach last season but he has been replaced by former Wigan, Bradford and Great Britain coach Brian Noble, with Wales coach Iestyn Harris also set to be involved.

"It seems to be jumping from one calamity to the other now, but there are some very strong, decisive people behind it and they want to make it a success," Davies told BBC Sport Wales.

"With Brian Noble there now and Iestyn Harris those two can maybe make it a success on the field, it's just how successful they are off it.

"The reputation that those people have it would have been a fresh start for them next year and they would have been more exciting down in south Wales."

Crusaders beat off stiff competition from other, more established teams to win a three-year Super League franchise.

A big plus in their favour was their geographical location away from the north-west of England, with the Rugby Football League keen to grow the game.

But with the move to Wrexham the Crusaders will now be close to those rugby league heartlands, which bodes well for travelling supporters but perhaps not so well when the franchise comes up for review in 2012.

"The franchise was given to the south Wales area and I'm sure that everyone concerned is disappointed at what's happening," Davies said.

"It's damage limitation at the moment and just for it to keep going.

"I do feel sorry for the likes of Leigh and especially Widnes, who lost out to the south Wales franchise.

"Now they will be moving to within 30 miles of their clubs, so it's a bit unfair on them but these things happen sometime.

"Some people will want the franchise to survive and this is the only way, but I'm sure there will be slight animosity because they've moved very near to the heartland of rugby league."

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see also
Crusaders move to save Wrexham FC
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
New Welsh league club confirmed
11 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
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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