This will be the first summer with the club being a 'proper' club, rather than a bit of an experiment. It's not an easy thing to set up and run a new club, and a lot of work has already been done, and there is still plenty more to do. However, at this point, it seems appropriate to let the outside world in on what plans the Marauders have for the 2011 season.
It is hoped that the majority of players who took part in the North Wales 9s will still want to be involved this year, and some have already confirmed this. Some newcomers have also expressed an interest, including some from areas that were not represented in the side last year, such as Newtown.
With no league structure planned for North Wales at senior level this year, the decision regarding how often to play and who to play rests with the coach and players. If the numbers and the enthusiasm are there for games every week, every effort will be made to find games.
One advantage in our location is that there are plenty of teams for us to play within easy reach, and clubs like Chester, Telford and Wolverhampton have made clear that they would be willing to arrange fixtures with us.
Training will begin at the start of May (dependent upon the end of the rugby union season), with any fixtures likely to take place in June and July. All males aged over 16 are eligible to play, though under 18s will need parental consent.
At a recent meeting of club representatives in Wrexham, it was agreed that the three new clubs in North Wales - the Montgomeryshire Marauders, Wrexham Raiders and Flintshire Falcons - would concentrate the bulk of their efforts upon junior development. It was agreed that Under 11s would be the age group initially targeted, thus ensuring that there were other teams nearby to play against.
This development policy is fully supported by the Crusaders, who have begun an extensive programme of junior development within schools in the area.
This Under 11s side will be open to both boys and girls who were under the age of 11 as of August 31st 2010. Games are contested under modified rules, but are not hugely dissimilar to the senior game, only with a greater emphasis on participation and enjoyment as opposed to playing to win.
In addition to this, there may be other young people who wish to try the game, and we are looking at the possibility of holding Street Rugby League sessions around the area for older children. Should there be sufficient interest, we will obviously look at running sides at other age groups.
In an ideal world, we would love to be running sides at every age group, both male and female, but as we currently only have one qualified coach (who would like to occasionally have a free evening!), this is simply not a realistic possibility at this point.
As with any club, the Marauders will always need more volunteers to help out, especially in these early developmental years. If you feel there are any specific skills or interests you have that you feel could be harnessed to help develop Rugby League in Montgomeryshire, please get in touch without delay!
Playing Kit and Merchandise
After discussions with players who were involved last year, it was felt that if possible, the club should play in colours that share as little in common with any local rugby union side. So, it has provisionally been agreed that yellow shirts with a red V could be used as the club colours, though this has obviously not been finalised.
We will soon have reached an agreement with a Merchandise supplier for official Marauders merchandise, such as hoodies and t-shirts, which will be available to purchase online.
Several companies are being approached regarding sponsorship of kit and equipment, and we are hopeful of being able to secure enough sponsorship for all the required equipment, as well as some left over for long-term needs.
If anyone would like to become a sponsor of the club, please get in touch, and we'll figure out what the best option is for you.
We are currently in discussion with several parties regarding a pitch and post-match facilities in the Welshpool area. It is our hope that we will be able to reach an agreement that will be of long-term benefit to both the club and the surrounding area, allowing us to plan our long-term development with some level of security.
2011 is the start of an exciting journey for the Marauders, and no-one knows where we could end up.
With the Crusaders solidifying their presence in North Wales, we have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the development of the game in Wales, and there could be a time in the not-so-distant future when we see players from Montgomeryshire playing for the Crusaders in Super League, or representing Wales in the Four Nations.
We have already had one player attend professional trials with the South Wales Scorpions, and there is no reason why others cannot follow this path.
The formation of a Crusaders Under 18s side in Wrexham gives a direct channel for young players in Montgomeryshire to go on to the top level of the game, and we intend to give them every opportunity we can to make this possible.
It was only five years ago that Wales had only one Rugby League club - the Celtic Crusaders, who only formed in 2006. Now, there are close to 30, two of which are professional clubs. Rugby League is the fastest growing sport in Wales, and we in Montgomeryshire have the opportunity to be one of the leading lights in the Welsh game.