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Crusaders Rugby League
Crusaders rugby league 2010.PNG
Full name Crusaders
Rugby League
Country Wales
Nickname(s) The Saders, Cru
Website crusadersrfl.com
Founded 2005
Ground Racecourse Ground,
Wrexham, Wales
(Capacity 15,500)
Chairman Wales Geoff Moss
Coach(s) England Brian Noble
Captain Australia Ryan O'Hara
League Super League
2009 position 14th (Super League)
Championships 0
Challenge Cups 0
World Club Champions 0
Home colours
Away colours
Rugby current event.svg Current season

Crusaders Rugby League (Welsh: Croesgadwyr Rygbi'r Gynghrair) (known as Celtic Crusaders before November 2009) are a Welsh professional rugby league club based in Wrexham, North Wales. Since 2009 the club have competed in the Super League competition.

Since December 2009, Crusaders have been owned by Wrexham Village Ltd, the holding company of Wrexham FC and the Wrexham Village development.

Founded in 2006, the club's initial base was the Brewery Field in Bridgend. In 2009, the club announced that they would be relocating to Rodney Parade in Newport for the following season. However, the club ran into financial trouble and was bought by Wrexham based businessman Geoff Moss. As a result, the club was permanently moved to Wrexham, playing out of the Racecourse Ground stadium. They are coached by Brian Noble.[1]

In addition to the first team, the club also runs an u18s side with players drawn from the Rugby League Conference Welsh Premier. The academy side currently play their games in the Gillette National Youth League. Prior to 2010, the club also ran a reserve team. However, changes in Super League rules meant that the Reserve Team Championship was scrapped in 2010 favour of an u20s competition. The majority of the ex-Crusaders reserves formed the playing core of the South Wales Scorpions, who were formed that year and will operate as an unofficial feeder club to the Crusaders.

Contents

History

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Celtic Warriors

In the summer of 2003, the WRU voted to reduce the top tier of Welsh professional rugby union from nine clubs into five regions. The Celtic Warriors officially represented the Mid-Glamorgan Valleys area, which in practice meant that they were a combination of Pontypridd RFC and Bridgend RFC.

Financial problems at Pontypridd RFC led to the sale of their half of the Warriors to Bridgend RFC owner Leighton Samuel, which he gifted to the WRU. He then later sold his half to the WRU who in the Summer of 2004 decided to liquidate the club.

Celtic Crusaders

Leighton Samuel then created a team which he claimed was the resurrection of the old Celtic Warriors franchise, however, instead of playing rugby union they would play rugby league. The RFL had long wanted a team based in South Wales to play in their leagues and accepted his proposals, and the Celtic Crusaders wre entered into the National Leauge Two for the start of the 2006 season.

The initial plan to re-use the 'Celtic Warriors' name was abandoned in favour of 'Celtic Crusaders' which had been considered by the rugby union franchise. They were to play their home games at Brewery Field and games were planned to be held at Sardis Road as well.

The Crusaders' aim was to reach Super League and to represent south Wales. Previous attempts to create rugby league franchises in non-traditional areas have met with mixed success. Gateshead Thunder and Paris Saint Germain were given automatic entry to the Super League during its early years in the 1990s. Paris survived only two seasons and Gateshead were forcibly merged and reincarnated as a lower league side despite a successful first year. The philosophy behind the creation of the Crusaders was a bottom up approach to ensure that the club grew naturally, developed a strong fan base and put proper infrastructure in place before moving into the top league. The Crusaders' first match took place against Harlequins Academy at Brewery Field. The Crusaders used the fixture as a chance to view the fringe players in their squad and secured a 22-22 draw. Their first competitive games were in the National League Cup; Crusaders were placed in a group along with London Skolars, Hemel Stags and St Albans Centurions. Crusaders won every game convincingly and were installed as favourites to win National League Two in their first year. However, the team finished a creditable third and lost out 26-27 in the Final Eliminator to Swinton Lions. They played against Brisbane Broncos in the Bulmers Original Cider Challenge at the Brewery Field on Thursday 15 February 2007, losing with a respectable scoreline of 6-32.

In only their second season of existence, the Celtic Crusaders won the 2007 National League Two championship, thus earning automatic promotion to National League One in 2008. The title was sealed with one match left to play as a result of Featherstone Rovers away loss at Barrow Raiders on 8 September 2007.[2] In that year fullback Tony Duggan won the National League Two Player of the Year award for 2007 with 40 tries through 2007. Jace Van Dijk, Neale Wyatt, Damien Quinn, Mark Dalle Cort, Neil Budworth, all joined Duggan in the National League Two all-star team.[3]

Their highest ever attendance in National league 2 was on Friday 4 May 2007 when 3,441 people witnessed them play Oldham Roughyeds at the Brewery Field. Many of the crowd consisted of engage Super League fans who had travelled to south Wales for the Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff but the majority were locals thanks to a marketing campaign by the club. This attendance was also an NL2 record attendance and the first NL2 match broadcast live on British television. In 2008, a crowd of 6,152 attended the game against Featherstone Rovers on Friday 3 May, again on the weekend of Millennium Magic.[4] Again made by the Magic Weekend.

In their first ever Co-operative National League One match, Celtic Crusaders, in atrocious conditions, claimed a hard-fought 14-12 win over Dewsbury Rams.[5] The club performed above all expectations, and went on to finish 2nd in the league and make the National Leauge One Grand Final, losing out in extra time to the relegated Super League side, Salford Reds.

Entry to Super League

Crusaders were awarded a three year Super League licence in July 2008 as the league abandoned automatic promotion and relegation in favour of franchising from Super League XIV onwards.[6]

They lost their first game in the European Super League against then World Champions and back-to-back Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos 28-6 at Headingley Stadium. The Crusaders' first try in the Super League was scored by Luke Dyer, and converted by Josh Hannay.[7] The Crusaders registered their first Super League victory on 17 May 2009, in the 12th game of the season against the Bradford Bulls winning 30–24 away at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford. Their second win of the season, and their first at home, came on 13 June against a visiting Wigan side. On 26 May 2009, the Crusaders announced they would play the Leeds Rhinos in Newport in a bid to take some games on the road and expand the game in Wales.[8] In August, the UK Border Agency found that six Celtic Crusaders players had breached visa regulations and were to be deported. These included captain Jace van Dijk and Australians Tony Duggan, Damien Quinn, Darren Mapp, Mark Dalle Cort and Josh Hannay.

Crusaders Rugby League

For the 2010 season, the club made a number of changes. Firstly, they dropped the "Celtic" label to become simply Crusaders[9], adopted a new badge and announced that they would be playing at Rodney Parade, Newport for the next two years. Secondly, on 14 October it was announced that former Wigan Warriors and Great Britain coach Brian Noble had been appointed as Head Coach for the coming season.[10] Jon Sharp was signed as first-team coach and Iestyn Harris was brought in as an assistant.

However, in December 2009, the club ran into financial difficulties, with Leighton Samuel being forced to put the club up for sale. The club was bought by Wrexham Village, the company that owns Wrexham FC, and as a result was relocated away from its original South Wales base to a permanent base in Wrexham. From 2010 onwards, the Crusaders will play the majority of their home games at the Racecourse Ground.[11] As a result of the club's relocation, a new team was set up to capitalise on and continue the development work done in the South of the country. The South Wales Scorpions were admitted to Championship One (formerly National League Two) in 2010, with the majority of their squad being made up of former Crusaders juniors.

On the field, the change in ownership and the visa issues of the previous season meant that new coach Brian Noble had to put a squad together at extremely short notice, with the vast majority of available players already signed up by other clubs. In their first match at their new home, the scratch Crusaders squad gave an encouraging showing, going down eventually to four-time champions Leeds Rhinos in front of a sell-out Racecourse Ground crowd. In the next game against Wigan they struggled, however the club recorded its first win of the season the following week against Salford, and backed that up a week later up with a victory over the previously unbeaten Hull FC.

Symbols

Celtic Crusaders badge 2005–2007

The club's first badge was used between its founding in 2005 and 2008. The badge featured the Flag of Saint David on a shield. A ribbon around the bottom of the shield bore the motto Oderint dum metuant (Latin for "Let them hate, so long as they fear"), which is attributed to the Roman tragic poet, Lucius Accius and later became famous as a saying of the Emperor Caligula. Above and below the shield were the world "Celtic" and "Crusaders Rugby League Club" respectively.

The club's colours were black and gold, inspired by the Flag of St David.[12] The blue and white colours of the change strip were the same as the club colours of Bridgend RFC.

Celtic warriors badge.png
Celtic Warriors badge,
unplayed 2004/05 season
Celtic Crusaders.png
Celtic Crusaders badge
2008–2009

The Crusaders' current badge was adopted following the 2007 season.[12] David Thompson, the then chief executive commented, "The new badge is modern, progressive and business-friendly. Our Welsh identity is prominent as ever through the gold and black Flag of St David which still provides the colours of our home strip".[12] The round badge, ringed with "Celtic Crusaders", features a warrior holding a sword and a shield with the Flag of St David on it, in the background are two Celtic knots. The badge bears striking similarity to the badge intended for use during the Celtic Warriors' unplayed 2004/05 season.

For the 2009 season, the club used a red and white away strip, colours associated with Welsh national teams.

The club have revealed a new logo ready for use in the 2010 season. The badge, inspired by the Prince of Wales's feathers, has three white feathers adorning the centre of a disc with the Flag of St David on. To the left and right of the feathers, the words "Rugby" and "League" appear on the disc. Beneath the feathers is written "Crusaders".

Stadium

The Crusaders played their home matches at Brewery Field, the traditional home of Bridgend rugby. Crusaders submitted plans to the local authority in Bridgend to construct a new 15,000 capacity stadium to further aid the development of the club in 2008.[13]

In August 2009, the Crusaders announced that they were to play their home games at Rodney Parade, Newport, for two seasons.[14] The move was announced after several Super League clubs including Celtic Crusaders were warned in July 2009 that their continued presence in Super League after the next round of licensing was in jeopardy due to the standard of their home venues.[15][16] An RFL statement said, "[They] have been informed that if plans to build new stadiums or significantly improve their home venues are not sufficiently advanced by 2011, they may not satisfy the full criteria for the next period of licensing”.[15] The club stated it was their intention to return to Bridgend once their planned stadium had been built.[14] The club will now play the majority of their home fixtures at the Wrexham Racecourse Ground which is a suitable stadium.

2010 Squad

2010 Crusaders RL season
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

Source:[17]


Legend:
  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain


Players who are in the process of being signed;

Statistics

Super League XIV

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Points
2009 14th 27 3 0 24 6

National League One

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Points
2008 2nd 22 12 0 6 40

Play-Offs

Semi-Final: Salford City Reds 18-44 Celtic Crusaders [22]
Final: Celtic Crusaders 18-36 Salford City Reds (at Warrington, after extra time) [23]

National League Two

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Points
2007 1st 22 19 0 3 60

National League Two

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Points
2006 3rd 22 14 1 7 29

Play-Offs

Semi-Final: Sheffield Eagles 26-16 Celtic Crusaders [24]
Elimination Semi-Final: Celtic Crusaders 26-27 Swinton Lions (after golden point extra time) [25]

Records

  • Biggest winning margin: 82– 4 against Swinton Lions (Brewery Field, Bridgend 28 April 2007)
  • Most points scored: 84–10 against Hunslet Hawks (Brewery Field, 11 August 2007)
  • Biggest defeat: 68–0 against Leeds Rhinos (Brewery Field, 22 August 2009)
  • Highest attendance: 10,334 against Leeds Rhinos (Racecourse Ground, Wrexham 29 January 2010)

Notable Fans

Honours

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.superleague.co.uk/article.php?id=16080
  2. ^ BBC SPORT | Rugby League | Gateshead 16-60 Celtic Crusaders
  3. ^ CrusadersRFL.com - NL2 Player of the Year. The winner is
  4. ^ BBC SPORT | Rugby League | Crusaders 28-18 Featherstone
  5. ^ CrusadersRFL.com - 21 March - Dewsbury Rams (h)
  6. ^ "Crusaders join Super League". www.skysports.com. http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12196_3851281,00.html. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Leeds 28-6 Celtic Crusaders". news.bbc.co.uk. 6 February 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/7866936.stm. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  8. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/celtic_crusaders/8068825.stm
  9. ^ "Crusaders drop 'Celtic' from name". BBC Sport. 2009-11-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/rugby_league/super_league/celtic_crusaders/8337469.stm. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  10. ^ "Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach". BBC Sport. 2009-10-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/celtic_crusaders/8302203.stm. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  11. ^ http://www.dailypost.co.uk/sport-news/wrexham-fc/2009/12/11/crusaders-move-to-wrexham-fc-s-racecourse-is-confirmed-55578-25373171/
  12. ^ a b c Ian Golden (12 July 2007). "New look for Crusaders". League Unlimited. http://www.leagueunlimited.com/article.php?newsid=14992. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Crusaders lodge new stadium plan". BBC News. 11 December 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/celtic_crusaders/7777104.stm. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Crusaders to make Newport switch". BBC News. 21 August 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/celtic_crusaders/8176113.stm. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Neil Barraclough (2009-07-21). "RFL orders five clubs to upgrade or face axe". Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/rugby_league/article6722356.ece. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  16. ^ Andy Hampson (2009-07-21). "RFL warning over stadia". Sporting Life. http://www.sportinglife.com/rugbyleague/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=rleague/09/07/21/RUGBYL_Licences.html. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  17. ^ http://www.crusadersrfl.com/team.php?id=11
  18. ^ http://www.people.co.uk/sport/rugby/tm_headline=andy-powell-time-to-be-crusader%26method=full%26objectid=22091419%26siteid=93463-name_page.html
  19. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/welsh-debut-for-exraider-20100316-qcke.html
  20. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,26855746-5018866,00.html
  21. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-1258722/Wales-star-Gavin-Henson-poised-switch-rugby-league-Crusaders.html
  22. ^ http://crusadersrfl.com/2008seasonmatch31.htm
  23. ^ http://crusadersrfl.com/2008seasonmatch32.htm
  24. ^ http://crusadersrfl.com/2006seasonmatch32.htm
  25. ^ http://crusadersrfl.com/2006seasonmatch33.htm
  26. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/feb/16/gareth-thomas-crusaders-rugby-league
  27. ^ http://www.myspace.com/crusadersrugbyleague
  28. ^ http://janetryder.blogspot.com/

External links


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