Wales Wheelchair Rugby League win 5th Celtic Cup

Wales maintained their hold on the wheelchair Celtic Cup, raising the trophy for the fifth consecutive time since the competition’s inception in 2016.

They impressively accounted for Ireland and Scotland at the Oriam Performance Sport Centre at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, racking up 198 points and conceding only 34.

Wales head coach Stephen Jones said: “I was very impressed with the way the whole team performed today. There were some very solid individual performances, but we played well as a unit. The four debutants made a big impact when they came onto the court and have fitted into the squad nicely. Both games were phenomenal performances to win by such large margins and will give us a big dose of confidence going into the England game on 26 June in Sheffield and the World Cup later this year.”

In the holders’ first game, Ireland took a shock lead from Peter Johnston Jr but a first half hat trick from Stuart Williams, who ended with five tries, put Wales on track. Jamie Reynolds became the youngest Wales Wheelchair international when he came off the bench, and was also part of the first father and son duo to play at the same time alongside his father Jason. Jodie Boyd-Ward also made her debut and posted a brace of tries.

Against the Scots, a very one sided first half saw Wales score 10 tries, nine of them converted by Stephen Halsey, Alan Caron finishing with four tries and hat tricks from Scott Trigg-Turner and the prolific Williams. Jamie Reynolds grabbed his first points with a try, and fourth Welsh debutant Mason Baker landed a conversion.

Scotland ended the game strongly going over for two quick tries from Connor Blackmore – his second – and Callum Young and showing promising signs they can compete at the World Cup, but were surprisingly beaten by the inexperienced Irish in the opening game.

Mark Roughsedge, Scotland wheelchair head coach commented: “We’ve only trained once as a squad because of Covid-19 restrictions and that was last night, but it gave us a chance to see how the players performed under pressure, gives us some insight into their resilience and we now know what we need to work on. We’ve got a tight schedule of training that takes us up to November, we’ll be meeting at least once a month, so we need to build the intensity in camp and identify our 10 players from the 15 that were available today. We’ll be ready for the World Cup when it kicks off in November!”

Peter Johnson Jr crossed for three tries for the Irish in their shock win over the Scots in game one and he added another two against the dominant Welsh.

Ireland player/coach Damian McCabe noted: “Despite the mixed results, we’re taking a lot of positives from this weekend. The team gelled very well and we did some great things in both games. We got a great result against Scotland although the match against Wales obviously didn’t go our way. We’ll kick on from here and our squad showed we have plenty of talent. We’ll work on improving that before we face Wales again in October and will hope to turn the tables on them. Our man of the tournament this weekend was a newcomer, Toby Burton-Carter, but it would be unfair to single anyone out – our whole squad should be proud of themselves.”

Match 1 – Scotland 32 Ireland 52

Match 2 – Wales 96 Ireland 16

Match 3 – Scotland 18 Wales 102 

Ireland squad

Damian McCabe, Peter Johnston JR, Tom Martin, Scott Robertson, Rick Rogers, Stewart Walker, Stephen Campbell, Toby Burton Carter

Scotland squad

Siggy Ahmed, Dave Anderson, Jay Anderson, David Birtles, Connor Blackmore, Chris Calderwood, Gavin Dobson, Midge Hartley, Neil Johnson, Pete Lauder, Michael Mellon, Graeme Stewart, John Willans, Callum Young

Wales squad
Alan Caron, Andrew Higgins, Gary Preece, Gary Taylor, Harry Jones, Jamie Reynolds, Jason Reynolds, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Lucie Roberts, Mark Williams, Mason Baker, Richard Carver, Scott Trigg-Turner, Stephen Halsey, Stuart Williams

Match Officials: Steve Abel (England), Ollie Cruickshank (Scotland), Matt Ball (England), Lucy Redmond (Wales).