North East Wales

North Wales rugby side RGC 1404 win Championship place

RGC 1404 squad members in a huddle
Image caption RGC 1404 win a place in the Championship after just one season of competitive rugby

The RGC 1404 rugby side has become the first north Wales team to win a place in Welsh rugby's Championship league.

The club, set up to develop the game in the north, will be promoted after topping the Division One East league.

It follows only their first competitive season in the game - with a squad that has an average age of 19.

The league title and promotion for RGC - Rygbi Gogledd Cymru, or North Wales Rugby - was called a "fantastic achievement" by coach Chris Horsman.

"I am delighted for the players, coaching staff and supporters," he said.

"We now have a two-year plan to put in place to establish ourselves as a Championship club."

The club, which is based at Eirias Park in Colwyn Bay, were established in 2008 as part of a plan to develop the game in north Wales.

But they had a faltering start - the original community-interest company set up to run the club folded in 2011, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking direct control.

However, the club were reborn for the 2012 season and entered for the first time into Division One East of the WRU league system.

The decision also saw former Welsh international and Scarlets star Rupert Moon take on the role as general manager of RGC 1404. The club take the 1404 part of their name from the year Owain Glyndwr became Prince of Wales.

Humble beginnings

"Champions Div 1 East! Thank you players, coaches & supporters! Very proud tonight!" he tweeted as news filtered through that Ystrad Rhondda had lost, clinching the league title for RGC.

The league winning side is made up predominantly of players who have come through the club's academy, which means it remains a very young side, both in terms of club history, and the age of its players.

"It's meant everything. Just being involved with RGC this year has been incredible," said team captain and number eight Kelvin Davies.

"We are such a young team and it has been an absolute pleasure playing with everyone."

Horsman said it had been an enormous challenge for him and the players.

"When I started this, my first training session probably 16 months ago, I had seven players," he recalled. "It was on a cold November night down in Conwy on a school pitch, and I knew I had 18 months to potentially win a league.

"It was a huge challenge, but ultimately in life, it is what you put into it."

The team will play their final match of the season on Saturday at Eirias Park against Rhydyfelin. With the league title already in the bag, Horsman has his eyes fixed on the future.

"I am already looking ahead at next season, I have been on the laptop looking at the Championship table and the teams we will face next season," he said.

"We are probably a year ahead of where people expected us to be, so after Saturday it is all about Championship rugby."

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