Getting To Know - West Wales


So, you think you know a bit about the West Wales Raiders and believe there is no valid reason for them having a semi professional rugby league team. You probably believe that the defeat against a resurgent York City Knights (144-0) was unsustainable.
Certainly the 29th April was more than a bad day at the office  for the raiders it was a stunning realisation that they needed to adapt in a positive and innovative way in order to pursue their dreams. This World record defeat was followed by another mass slaughter the following week when they were hammered 124-0 by the highly ambitious Bradford Bulls.

More defeats have followed, and yet rather than wallow in their own self pity this is a club with lofty ambitions.The recent appointment of Kim Williams is a master stroke , a Queensland Cup winning coach and former high performance manager at the Melbourne Storm he is recognised as being one of the most astute coaches outside of the NRL. This Bloke is descrribed as the real deal by many and he is also of welsh heritage with his grandfather Griffin Williams emigrating to Australia with his family after the 2nd world War. He has a pedigree and experience that you really could not better, starting his career as a development Officer twenty years ago in Adelaid and then seven years as the development manager for the Western Australia Rugby League. On joining the Melbourne storm in 2009 Williams was again responsible for whole areas of development in Victoria and in his first season along he coached the Storm acadamy to the NRL under 18 Grand final. Such a pedigree on top of Coaching Mackay Cutters and Queensland Capras more recently and you begin to see the significance of this appointment as Williams will have a full responsibility for the First team and youth Squads in South Wales. 

If you speak to Chairman Andrew Thorne, its easy to see his passion about Rugby League and in particular Welsh Rugby League, and he views player "pathways" as being critically important This season has been very much a learning curve for Andrew and his board of directors and indeed the players. A successful business man in his own right when Andrew describes himself as "an ordinary man" you have a sneaking suspicion that this is not the case at all. On top of the news of the appointment of Kim Williams the Raiders have of course announced a strategic partnership with the mighty Wigan Warriors, and whilst Andrew had stressed this is not just about "shipping players in", its about "learning the tricks of the trade and making sure that all his staff have the knowledge and skill they require to work and succeed at an outstanding level. As I say, these are not the words or actions of a man resigned to a slow painful death of his rugby league team, indeed quite the opposite..

If you drill deeper,The Recently selected Wales U19 Squad contains no less than five West Wales Players and a further five of that squad were in the Welsh U16 team who beat their English counterparts last year. That in itself is no mean feat, but what an astounding tribute to West Wales and their relationship with local schools, colleges and Universities, that they can attract such high calibre young players. Andrew of course recognises the importance of the programmes already in place and young players like Harry Boots, Fraser Stroud, Rowland Kaye and Archie Snook are a fitting testimony to what the Raiders are attempting to develop. Andrew indeed describes his first taste of rugby league whilst liiving in North Yorkshire and was captivated by what he calls "Big Skills sets, big collisions , none stop action and hardly any stoppages". He of course came back to Wales as a rugby league supporters and this is a team and a club of Welsh rugby League supporters and players and it therefore needs Protection, Support and investment from the RFL in order to produce more outstanding Welsh Talent .

One young fellow who has performed well this year is Harry boots and with a name like that how could he fail.His name sound like it might crop up in a comic book playing alongside Roy Race for Melchester Rovers, but Harry himself is very much an ambitious young man. He certainly has the Frame at 6 foot 2 and has impressed against fierce opposition in recent months, Like many of the others at this Fledgling Club Harry pays tribute to student rugby League and his University Cardiff Metropolitan, but the strength of bond is growing as he is also full of praise for his colleagues Archie Snook, Phil Cowburn and the "true professional "Steven Parry, Reality is, this is not a Club that is defined by heavy defeats, it is a club on the move to something Bigger and Bolder, something more sustainable and permanent and something that will reep rewards for Welsh Rugby League for years to Come.

Chairman Andrew Thorn already believe he has "a few Welsh Internationals of the future" in his Ranks and who can really doubt him. You only have to look at the relationship they have with Tofraen Tigers and their community team Llanelli Knights to realise that a man like Kim Williams and the ambition of Andrew Thorne and his board could be a marriage made in Heaven. "Moral" in camp remains high, and despite the obvious frustration when the players come off the pitch, this remains a Welsh team, using Welsh players who are coming through the Welsh pathways.

Imagine if you Could ten years from now having a welsh team who could compete and defeat England at Full international Level. If Wales could produce five or six international players in the next ten years what an aspiration to play for Great Britain., and Yes it all starts here with a 144-0 Deafeat followed by the appointment of Kim Williams a few weeks ago,

So you think you know a bit about the West Wales Raiders, just keep a look out for how they improve moving into 2019

No Pressre Fellas


Stephen

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