Cardiff’s Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf’s Year 9 Rugby League side will go ‘where no-one has gone before’, in Wales anyway, after qualifying for their third successive national Champion Schools Final.
They beat Brooksbank School from Halifax 36-4 in Chorley on Wednesday afternoon to earn their place and they will face Mirfield Free Grammar School from Yorkshire, which is where “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “X-Men” actor Patrick Stewart was a pupil, having being born in the town.
Glantaf have their own Hollywood actors in Ioan Gruffudd and Cardiff-born Matthew Rees. Gruffudd, who also acted in a Marvel Comics film in “The Fantastic Four”, worked alongside Stewart in 2004 in “Quest for King Arthur” but they will be rivals on Friday 25 August in London when their former schools meet on the Rugby League field in the ‘final frontier’ of the 2017 Year 9 national competition.
Since starting out at Year 7 level, this collection of Glantaf players have only lost one game of Rugby League in three years and are looking to become the first Wales Rugby League school to win two national trophies.
They won the 2015 Year 7 Final at Wembley Stadium after beating Wade Deacon from Widnes 40-6. They narrowly lost to the same side in last season’s Year 8 Final.
Glantaf were given a tough first half on Wednesday against Brooksbank. Unconverted tries from Louis Rochford-Shugar and Jac Lloyd gave them an 8-0 lead at half-time before they let rip after the break.
Straight away Iwan Johnes scored Glantaf’s third that Lloyd converted. Iwan Price-Jones added another, this one going unconverted, before Harri Griffiths, Gwilym Evans and Lloyd all ran over with Lloyd converting all three.
Glantaf teacher and coach Rhydian Garner said: “It was a hard fought game against a well organised side. A difficult start where we had to defend hard for 10 minutes with some great last ditch tackles from Rhodri Thomas.
“After a shaky start I thought we were very lucky not to be behind. An outstanding solo effort from Louis who showed great feet and fantastic pace to score one of the best tries I’ve seen. This certainly woke our boys up and from then on, they didn’t look back. We kept the ball for the best part of 20 minutes either side of half time. Within this period we scored five unanswered touchdowns.
“I’d like to credit Jac Lloyd and Iwan P Jones in attack and Gwilym Evans and Rhodri Thomas in defence, but once again my man of the match goes to Harri Griffiths who looked for work in defence and attack all game long and scored a great rare try. It’s a fantastic achievement from the boys to get to London once again.”
Next Wednesday 17th May, sees two more Champion Schools semi-finals involving Welsh outfits where at Kings Norton RFC in Birmingham, Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera take on St John Fisher of Wigan at Year 8 level (kick-off 1pm) before St John’s of Aberdare face Castleford Academy in a Year 10 semi-final (kick-off 2.15pm).
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