Wales rugby league team ditches three feathers on official badge
The Rugby League World Cup kicked off today with Wales launching their campaign this Wednesday against the Cook Islands.
When the Welsh players step out on the pitch, there will be a change to their shirts. In previous years the Wales rugby league team have played wearing shirts that have featured the three feathers on the badge. However, this time around the badge on the shirts will feature a red dragon.
The move has been lauded by those who see the three feathers as inextricably linked with the Prince of Wales and are keen to see a move away from the heraldic badge of royalty.
However, if you look closely at the Wales home shirt you will quickly discover that the three feathers still feature prominently in the woven design of the red shirt, which has been worn by such icons of the game as Iestyn Harris, Kieron Cunningham and Jonathan Davies and back through the years by John Bevan, Clive Sullivan and Billy Boston.
Wales aim to be going places when they kick off their Rugby League World Cup campaign with a major sponsorship by the UK’s largest independent travel agent.
Their red shirts will be emblazoned with the brand logo of Hays Travel for the tournament which launched today when England took on Samoa at St James’s Park, Newcastle.
Wales are in action the following Wednesday evening, October 19, at Leigh against the Cook Islands, kick-off 7.30pm, and they’ve been handed a triple dose of Southern Hemisphere opposition with Tonga and Papua New Guinea making up the group.
It’s a mouth-watering prospect for Wales skipper Elliot Kear who will be the second person from his year at Whitchurch High School, Cardiff, to captain his country at a World Cup.
Sam Warburton in rugby union was the first while the third of a remarkable hat-trick will be Gareth Bale when he leads the Wales football side at this December’s World Cup in Qatar.
It’s a third World Cup for Bradford Bull Kear, 33, said: “It’s a bit surreal. I didn’t play much football in school but I played rugby with Sam and with Gareth and Gareth was really fit and fast but from the age of 15 he was really concentrating on his football with Southampton.
“For the three of us to captain our country is great for the school but I’m under no illusions we’ve got a tough group and I think Tonga could well make the final so we’ve got to really focus on beating Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea.
“We’ve got a great group of boys with a good atmosphere and we really want to play for each other and for Wales and it’s a huge honour for me to captain Wales in a World Cup, one of the highlights of my career.”
Another senior player is Wales’s record try-scorer and cap-holder, Salford Red Devils wing Rhys Williams, 32, a North Walian from Mynydd Isa who played his junior rugby at Mold.
Williams and Kear were team-mates at London Broncos and Salford and Williams, who lives in Hawarden and has scored 22 tries in his 30 internationals, said: “I’m looking forward to the World Cup massively. The squad have been together for a long time and we know each other very well.
“Culture wise that’s a good thing and it’s a pleasure to be training with them but with it being a World Cup all the squads are strong although you wouldn’t have it any other way because you want to play against the best in the world.
“All the games are going to be tough. We’re playing three Southern Hemisphere teams so you don’t get to play these players every day so it’s an exciting prospect but no-one is getting ahead of themselves.”
Wales remarkably have two sets of twins in the squad, Connor and Curtis Davies, from Swansea, and Bridgend’s Ben and Rhys Evans and a set of brothers, James and Ollie Olds, also from Bridgend.
Brian Julliff, Chairman of Wales Rugby League, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome such a recognised name as Hays Travel as a partner for our men’s team during Rugby League World Cup.
“With two of our three group fixtures in the north-west, and with a branch in Wrexham, Hays Travel are perfectly placed to benefit from the brand exposure locally during the tournament.
“Beyond that, the broadcast coverage on the BBC means that the Hays Travel brand will be seen nationally, and internationally with the tournament going into homes worldwide.
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