April 9 2012
Dave Clark’s South Wales Scorpions travel to the Racecourse on Easter Monday to face rivals North Wales Crusaders, in a game being broadcast live on Premier Sports TV. The game will be an emotional experience for many Scorpions supporters, who invested much time, money and energy into following the Celtic Crusaders before they left their South Walian roots behind and moved to Wrexham.
In their 50th competitive fixture, the Scorpions travel North to face arch-rivals Crusaders in a hotly-anticipated Championship One clash.
The game carries great significance for many Scorpions fans, who travelled all over the country watching the Celtic Crusaders before the club cancelled a planned move from Bridgend to Newport to move 158-miles North to Wrexham.
The Super League franchise subsequently folded after two seasons at the Racecourse. A new club, the North Wales Crusaders, has been formed and continues to play out of the famous Mold Road stadium.
It is over 100 years since their was a Welsh rugby league derby of this magnitude, with more than 4,000 fans watching Merthyr Tydfil narrowly beat Ebbw Vale in 1910!
Ex-Celtic Crusader Geraint Davies is expected to make his Scorpions debut in North Wales after agreeing a deal to join the Neath-based outfit.
Christiaan Roets ditched the Scorpions for the Crusaders ahead of the new season, but is a doubt to face his former club due to a hamstring problem.
Both teams have endured a difficult start to their respective seasons. Clark’s Scorpions have a narrow league win over Gateshead under their belts and remain in the Challenge Cup, but a heavy defeat in their last outing at Doncaster did little to inspire confidence.
‘Saders have lost their first three league games, including crushing defeats at the hands of London Skolars and Rochdale Hornets. However a stunning home win over Championship side Toulouse in the Challenge Cup did much to raise the spirits of rugby league in North Wales.
Rugby league in Wales has enjoyed a turbulent few years, with many highs and many lows.
The dizzy heights of Super League for the Celtic Crusaders and the Welsh national side winning the European Cup suddenly seem a long time ago. For many, Easter Monday’s match will simply bring back memories of ‘what could have been’.
However, if rugby league in Wales is to survive in the long-term, the bitter disappointment and missed opportunities of recent years must be forgotten.
The nation now has two clubs, perhaps harbouring a much bitterer rivalry that many are prepared to admit, vying to keep the sport alive in Wales. Monday may provide an indication as to whether it is the Southern or the Northern club better equipped to take on that challenge.
Come on you Scorps! We are South Wales!