Morgan Allen will captain Cardiff RFC as they make a long-awaited return to action, welcoming London Welsh to the capital on Saturday (KO 1.00pm).
The Rags will take to the field for the first time since March 2020, as preparations begin for the upcoming Indigo Group Premiership Cup, with a friendly against Carmarthen Quins also scheduled.
It’s a fixture that will reignite plenty of memories, with 111 encounters between Cardiff and London Welsh since they first locked horns in 1885.
Following a renewed alignment alongside the first team at Cardiff Arms Park, Steve Law’s side contains an exciting blend of the club’s youngsters alongside seasoned Indigo Group Premiership stars.
Skipper Allen is joined in the back row by Cardiff Rugby academy openside, Ethan Fackrell, and former Cardiff University flanker, Alex Everett, who has also featured for Cardiff Rugby A.
Former Wales under-20 lock, Sean Moore, will make his debut in the Blue and Black after arriving from Pontypridd, linking up with former Bedwas forward James Richards.
New recruits Llyr Green and Alun Rees, who both join following stints with Llandovery, are joined by academy prop and age grade international, Theo Bevacqua, to complete the pack.
Jack Maynard wears the number 10 jersey upon his return to the Arms Park, combining with Liam Free at half back, while a new-look centre partnership sees Ryan Wilkins and Tom Hoppe starting in midfield.
Ryan Edwards, who has spent two loan stints with Cardiff’s first team, is part of a back three division alongside youngsters Jake Thomas and Jacob Beetham.
Head coach, Law, said: “It’s been a long time coming, but we’re really excited for this opportunity and it should be a cracking afternoon of rugby.
“Before the pandemic, we were in a really strong position in the league. We came off the back of the cup-winning campaign, had a lot of momentum behind us and I know a lot of these boys will be itching to pick up where we left off.
“There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but these next couple of games are about ensuring the squad are as ready as possible for the start of the competitive games.
“There will be different motivations for the different boys involved. Some are just excited to get out and play their first game of rugby in almost 18 months, while others will be looking to build on work done within the age grade and academy system and get a taste of senior rugby.
“But more importantly, we’re all heading into these games with the same focus and goals as a team.
“Traditionally, there’s a lot of history and a strong relationship between Cardiff and London Welsh, which adds an extra bite to this one and hopefully it will be a superb afternoon for those attending, with a lively atmosphere at the Arms Park.”
With a number of changes pre-planned to ensure rotation and game-time, Cameron Winnett, who was part of the recent under-18 campaign, is joined on the bench by fellow academy members Rhys Barrett, Nathan Evans and Evan Lloyd.
Former Jersey forward Rory Bartle is set for his first outing for the Rags as a replacement, with familiar faces Nathan Hudd, Barney Nightingale and James Beal also featuring in the matchday squad.
Cardiff RFC: Jacob Beetham; Ryan Edwards, Tom Hoppe, Ryan Wilkins, Jake Thomas; Jack Maynard, Liam Free; Theo Bevacqua, Alan Rees, Llyr Green, James Richards, Sean Moore, Alex Everett, Ethan Fackrell, Morgan Allen (capt.)
Replacements: Dale Rodgers, Rhys Barrett, Nathan Evans, Gareth Allen, Rory Bartley, Nathan Hudd, Evan Lloyd, Rory Harris, Barney Nightingale, Dafydd Smith, James Beal, Cameron Winnett
Tickets will be available to purchase on the gate for Saturday’s clash between Cardiff RFC and London Welsh, with gates opening at 12pm ahead of the 1pm kick off.
2021/22 Cardiff Rugby Season Members can claim their free ticket for the encounter through their online account at eticketing.co.uk/cardiffrugby
For any enquiries, please contact [email protected]