Bethesda in North Wales was the stunning setting for the inaugural Masters Rugby League Tri-Nations festival. The sun shone and the hills and mountains towered above the Bethesda Clwb Rygbi as England and Ireland joined hosts Wales for a glorious afternoon of Masters Rugby League.
Wales Masters were the hosts and with Ryan Roberts leading the preparations all was set for a thrilling festival.
The England team should be given recognition as the most patient Rugby League players ever, since this England team was selected over two years ago ahead of the planned 2020 Tri-Nations.
The Welsh team was good mix of players who played in the international festival in 2021 and players new to Masters Rugby League.
The Irish team left it to the last moment to arrive having taken the ferry across to Holyhead. However, they were in good spirits and brought over a useful squad of players, although some had not played since last November.
The teams and officials were led out by members of the Welsh Guards and stood for the three anthems. From that moment, it was game on and all the layers were ready for the two game of Masters Rugby League.
First up were Wales and Ireland. The two teams served up a superb game of Masters. The pace was fast and the rugby played was very enjoyable to watch. One again Wales' Gareth Evans managed to get on the score sheet with a break away try. Both teams played well and there was a deserved round of applause as the game ended in true Masters style, a 0-0 scoreline.
Ireland stayed on the pitch to face England in the second game. With the sun still shining down and temperatures in the up teens, the Irish lads set off at a pace.Once again it was a high quality game with both teams putting on some good flowing moves. The best of the tries was perhaps from England's Steven Archer who broke the line and with two men supporting him out wide threw an outrageous dummy to.round the Irish full back and score under the sticks. The Irish lads tired in the sun during the last ten minutes but never stopped playing and enjoying their Masters Rugby League.
The final game brought Wales back on to centre stage to take on England. Fresh from their break the Welsh came out roaring with some more entertaining Masters.The game ebbed and flowed as both teams sought to find a way through the keen defensive lines. Both England and Wales had chances to score try with Wales' David Ward coming ever so close, only to be held up on his back over the goal line by England full back Liam Kirkham.The action continued with a moment's stop right to the final whistle. A brilliant game of Masters ended in a 0-0.All the players entered the pitch afterwards to celebrate a successful Masters festival with a beer, as they collected their Welsh slate medals and Tri-Nations medals, things they will treasure for a long time together with the memories of pulling on their national shirts and making more Masters mates.With the post match beer and food served, it was the presentations next up on the schedule.
Wales Masters Rugby League lead, Ryan Roberts, was on hand to thank Clwb Rygbi Bethesda for hosting the festival, to thank referees Paul Field, Martin Flynn and Kev Remond and to make the presentations. National team managers and the referees had each chosen a Masters of the Festival from all three teams.
For England, the referee's chose Steve Archer and the team management chose full back Liam Kirkham. The Irish team management picked Denny McCarthy whilst the referee were impressed by Ashley Mulligan.
And finally it was the Welsh players' turn to be in the spotlight - the referees picked Russ Gardener and the Welsh management gave the Masters of Festival to Idris Evans.With the presentations completed, Ryan gave the instruction "party time." All players and supporters took this seriously, with hours of socialising and telling of tall Masters stories.England Masters National Coach Paul Royston was still excited a couple of hours later but took time to comment: "It's been an absolutely fabulous day here in North Wales."We have seen three fantastic games of Masters Rugby League played in true Masters Spirit on a very big pitch surrounded by stunning scenery. A brilliant event with wonderful people".
Find out more about Masters Rugby League and find your local club today at www.masterrugbyleague.org.uk