Warren Gatland has announced the official Wales squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
Of the 33 players crossing the English Channel to represent Cymru on the biggest stage, many would have had some of their first rugby experiences at community clubs all across Wales.
These clubs continue to offer opportunities to play rugby in their community with some support from Sport Wales funding. And who knows? Maybe Wales’ next Rugby World Cup star will be playing rugby at one of these clubs today.
Sam Costelow and Tommy Reffell – Pencoed RFC
The club has produced Gavin Henson, Gareth Thomas and Gareth Cooper. Now, the new kids on the block are Sam Costelow and Tommy Reffell, who will get their first taste of the Rugby World Cup in France 2023.
Sport Wales awarded Pencoed RFC £9,840 through the Be Active Wales Fund in June 2023. The Bridgend-based club applied for mobile floodlights so they could save costs on venue hire for training in those dark winter nights. With the club's many men's, women's and mini & juniors' teams to cater for, the mobile floodlights will be well-used and help to make the club more financially sustainable for the future.
A future Wales international star could be paving their own way to the Rugby World Cup under those floodlights.
George North – Llangefni RFC
North Wales are represented in the Rugby World Cup squad by the 8th highest try scorer in men's international rugby – George North. Clwb Rygbi Llangefni was where he first picked up a rugby ball in Anglesey before he moved to Llandovery College with the Scarlets Academy.
The club was awarded £2,933 in National Lottery funding through the Be Active Wales Fund in September last year. With this much needed investment, they bought brand new equipment for their 11 junior teams so children in Ynys Mon get the best rugby experience.
Hoping to increase opportunities in rugby for first language Welsh speakers in North Wales, they have also secured funding to upskill their Welsh-speaking volunteers on coaching courses.