A group of talented rugby players from a south Wales college have been selected to represent their country at the Rugby League 2018 Commonwealth Championships, after impressing academy coaches.
Three former learners from Coleg y Cymoedd will join the Wales Rugby Leagueâ€™s U23â€™s regional team at this yearâ€™s Rugby Nines Championships in Australia.
College alumnus Macauley Harris, Liam Silver and Cobi Green will compete as part of the 15-man squad at the international competition taking place next month in Queensland.
The two-day tournament will see the nine-a-side team, made up of the nationâ€™s top youth players aged between 18 and 23, face seven other nations in the menâ€™s category: Papua New Guinea, Australia, England, Scotland, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
Macauley Harris, from Glyncoch, Pontypridd, is one of the Cymoedd players set to play at the Championships. With four Welsh caps to his name, the eighteen-year old has played for a host of high profile teams since first playing union rugby aged 11, including the South Wales Scorpions Academy, Wales Students and his current club, the West Wales Raiders.
Speaking of his place on the team, Macaulay said: â€œAt first, I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d make it onto the national squad because no matter how good a player you are, you canâ€™t know how things are going to go on the day of your trials.
â€œWhen I found out I made the cut, I was absolutely over the moon. Playing at the Commonwealth will be an amazing experience.â€
Macauley, who hopes to become a professional rugby league player, also represented Wales Students at the World Cup in Australia last summer, along with fellow Coleg y Cymoedd ex-learners Dewi Billingham, Archie Snook and Cobi Green.
The Coleg y Cymoedd players selected for the Commonwealth and World Cup were all graduates from the collegeâ€™s Rugby League Academy, an RFL Category 3 accredited academy run by the college in partnership with the Wales Rugby League.
Designed to give players the chance to combine accredited rugby training with full-time academic study, the academy offers BTEC Level 1, 2 or 3 sports qualifications and/or A-Levels alongside training as part of the programme.
Now in its third year, the scheme aims to provide a bridge for those looking to continue Rugby League into further education on a part or full-time basis, with many of the teamâ€™s candidates having gone on to play for high profile teams including the South Wales Scorpions U20’s Academy and the Wales Students squad.
Mark Jones Head of Rugby League at Coleg Cymoedd said: â€œFrom a coaching and management perspective, itâ€™s fantastic to see so many of our past and presents learners selected to represent Wales on an international level. Hearing that Macauley, Liam and Cobi will play in the Commonwealth is fantastic news and so very well deserved â€“ the boys have worked hard, dedicating much time and effort to achieve their goals.
â€œItâ€™s a huge achievement for them to be representing their country at the Championships. Iâ€™m excited to join the boys out in Australia next month for the tournament and wish them the best of luck.â€
The news of the Commonwealth squad selection comes after the success of four of the Cymoedd rugby league academy players who were selected to represent the Wales Students team, which was also managed by Mark, in the 2017 Students World Cup.
Mark added: â€œTaking four of my Academy players to the World Cup tournament in Australia last year was a huge highlight for both me personally and the college Rugby Academy. It shows that our pathway for elite rugby league at the college is working.â€
The 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Nines tournament will take place on Friday 23rdÂ and Saturday 24thÂ February in Moreton Bay, Queensland, just half an hour north of Brisbane.Â
For anyone interested in applying for the Coleg y Cymoedd Rugby League Academy please contact Mark Jones onÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhondda Cynon Taff