The South Wales Scorpions celebrate their first birthday TODAY!

It was on December 11th 2009 that the Rugby Football League gave the green light to the new “South Wales RLFC” to enter the Co-operative Championship 1 competition while the name “Scorpions” came 11 days later following an online campaign. All of this was reported in newspapers, on local radio and on television in Wales.

The idea for a second professional Rugby League side in Wales came as far back as July 2005 when co-founder of the Crusaders, Chris O’Callaghan, said in that month’s Rugby League World magazine that: “The Crusaders will work alongside the Conference as we climb our way towards Super League acceptance. Should all go according to plan, we intend to leave behind another NL2 (the original name for Championship 1) club in our wake.”

And throughout 2009 there were talks to form that club with ideas to place it in places like Newport, Neath or even just over the Welsh border in Bristol.

But it was the Neath application that impressed the Rugby Football League bosses and more importantly had the rubber stamp from autonomous governing body, Wales Rugby League.

The Scorpions had an outstanding first season finishing sixth in the league, reaching the play-offs and no less than 14 of their regular players went on to represent Wales at full international level in October this year – a campaign that led to Wales winning the European Cup and qualifying for the 2011 Four Nations tournament to take on England, Australia and New Zealand.

They scored 102 tries and totalled 602 points in just 21 games, scored 70 points in two of their matches and their coach Anthony Seibold was named as the Co-operative Championship 1 coach of the year.

Plus their attendances were third best in Co-operative Championship 1, below only Oldham and York City Knights and well above Champions Hunslet Hawks.

They had one player in the official Co-operative Championship 1 Team of the Year in Gil Dudson while their top try scorer Steve Parry with 19 tries, was third in the League’s scoring charts.

The Scorpions have made many critics of the club eat their words for what they have achieved in 2010.

One fan, obviously disappointed at the Crusaders’ moving their base to Wrexham, sent an email to the club predicting that they would “fall at the first fence” and “fail miserably.”

In a local paper, Glamorgan Gazette, dated January 28th 2010, former Wales and Crusaders assistant coach Kevin Ellis said about both the Scorpions and Crusaders that “I think they’ll both finish in the bottom three of their leagues” while the Rugby League World Magazine dated April 2010 concurred with that and predicted that the Scorpions would finish ninth.

In the previous edition of that magazine, new Barrow Raiders coach Garry Schofield even went as far as predicting that the club would go out of existence after a year.

“Another club called South Wales failed in 1996 after just one season,” he wrote. “I can’t see what will be different with this team.”

But this was the pundit who in the same issue said that Crusaders’ “new signings don’t inspire much confidence” and that they would finish bottom of Super League!

For the record, the differences between the South Wales side from 1996 and South Wales Scorpions are enormous.

In 1996, the old South Wales club, despite having a similar season to the Scorpions on the field, had no infrastructure off it.

At that time, there was no junior development, no real fanbase or even an identity for the club as it had no nickname, mascot or even a regular home ground. There were no schools playing Rugby League in South Wales and just one student side.

In 2010, from the outset, the Scorpions have done everything in the correct fashion and they have been welcomed by all at their home ground, The Gnoll in Neath.

Last year, the club fielded 24 Welsh-born players and further four who were Welsh qualified, and by linking up with the Wales Rugby League and Crusaders youth set-up, they have ensured the future of the club on the field. So much so that the Crusaders under 18 shirts also proudly parades the Scorpions logo on them in 2010.

A major breakthrough from the link-up will be seen in 2011 when Dafydd Carter and Chris Davies will take to the field for the Scorpions after graduating from the under 18 academies in South Wales. These teenagers are just two of around 1,500 people to have played Rugby League for a Welsh side in 2010 and with more teams in the Champions Schools competition in South Wales in 2010-11 (if the weather allows it to!) then this number is set to increase as the years go on.

The Scorpions are utilising their website, Facebook and Twitter to involve their fanbase every step of the way in regards to choosing a name, badge and even the 2011 team shirts that were launched earlier this week, which is just another reason why Scorpions’ Chairman Phil Davies is delighted about the club’s inaugural season.

“It’s been an exciting first year,” said Davies. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we always knew that would be the case.

“On the field, we definitely overachieved and surprised a lot of people with our exciting and skilful brand of Rugby League and for that a lot of thanks go to our then coach Anthony Seibold, his assistants as well as those involved with our fantastic youth development structure here in South Wales.

“Off the field, we’re still learning but we’re grateful to the Rugby Football League who are always on the other end of a phone for advise when we need it, plus we have some outstanding directors in Mark Rowley, Rob Buckley and John Brennan who have both brought a lot of money into the club.

“We’ve made a few new signings for 2011 and have a new coach in Aled James who I know is going to do well. We’re all looking forward to kick-off next year and that’s where I have to say thanks to our fantastic supporters club who follow us home and away – you were superb week on week in 2010 and we will welcome your support again next year.”

South Wales Scorpions Supporters Club chairman Andy Birchall echoes these thoughts and is looking forward to the 2011 season.

“As the first year for the Scorpions comes around I would like to think that we have made our mark on Rugby League in the UK,” he said. “I don’t think many clubs gave us a chance and even the bookies had us as outsiders and second favourite to finish bottom, but now there are a lot of clubs and people out there that know who we are and how good we can be.

“The difference between the Scorpions and the Crusaders in there first few years is huge. The Crusaders were a team put together to win the league in their first season and they came close to doing that. Last season, the Scorpions were a mix of players that had played before and those new to the game, and winning the league was never a target in the first season.

“To be honest, the Scorpions are in a lot better position that the Crusaders were in starting their second year. We are doing things slowly and building from the ground up, the club is being guided in the right direction and not rushed, we have players that are Welsh born and are letting the young players come through the squad at their own pace.

“The future of Rugby League in Wales has never looked better and the future of the Scorpions is waiting to be written by the Welsh international players of tomorrow playing for the Scorpions today.”

The Scorpions’ opening home fixture of 2011 is against Whitehaven at The Gnoll on Sunday 20th March (kick-off 1pm). They will also enter the Carnegie Challenge Cup for the first time in 2011 with their first game taking place on the weekend of March 6th to kick-off their competitive season. Season tickets will be valid for this game whether home or away.

The Scorpions will again be playing all their home games on a Sunday as this proved popular with the crowds throughout 2010. Season tickets are priced £35 for concessions, £80 for adults and with up to two children aged under 11 being allowed to have a free season ticket with every adult season ticket bought. They can be bought by going to


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