South Wales Scorpions Rugby League Club will be moving to Parc Dyffryn Pennar, the home of Mountain Ash RFC for the start of the 2015 season.
The move has been made so that the club, who play in League One which is two divisions below Super League, can secure a base where the team can not only play home matches, but for the first time in the club’s history, they can train regularly on their home turf.
South Wales Scorpions played for four years in Neath before a temporary move to Maesteg this year. One game in 2015 will be played “on the road” in Maesteg to continue the link, one match will once again be played at Cardiff Arms Park with another at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli, the first Rugby League match in that code for 56 years.
The club held one match at Mountain Ash RFC last season and the Wales v England under 16 international was held there the week before, with almost 1,000 people collectively passing through the gates for these two games.
Scorpions’ 2015 campaign will start in March and will continue until early September avoiding a clash with most of the rugby union season.
Wales Rugby League’s chief operating officer, Chris Thair, said: “The move to Mountain Ash is a good fit for everyone and when the idea was being discussed, it has certainly generated a lot of excitement amongst the players and staff.
“Having signed up many of the squad and staff for next season we can move there with a lot of confidence that 2015 will be another step forward for the Scorpions.
“The Maesteg community stepped up 10 months ago and embraced the Scorpions in a real time of need. David Morgan, Stuart Hogg, Jeff Cole, Sandra Griffiths and many more from Maesteg have all being extremely supportive of the club’s efforts. After speaking to David, the chairman of Maesteg RFC, he is totally understanding of the new direction and is confident they can make the one game to be played at Maesteg in 2015 a big success.
“We’re delighted to announce that our ticket pricing for 2015 will be lower than ever before as reduced costs for 2015 and hopefully beyond means we can pass the savings onto you, the fans.”
Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “I’m really pleased and excited about the move to Mountain Ash. It's massive for us as a club to have the playing and training base all at the same venue for the first time, and also somewhere to build relationships in the community going forward.
“The Hunslet game was a great success for me as was the under 16 international the week before. Everyone bought into the Rugby League, the community, Mountain Ash RFC and also the players. It was the second highest crowd of the season and a great day all round.
“It's on the doorstep to majority of the coaching and off field staff and for many of the squad, which means we will be getting into the local community and more importantly the local schools to make people aware of the Scorpions brand.
“I'd like to place on record our thanks to Maesteg RFC for having us there for the 2014 season, they have been fantastic hosts and nothing was too much trouble for them, It's been appreciated by everyone connected with the club.
“I would also like to thank the supporters for supporting us in 2014 and for those who attended the fans forum last month when this ground discussion was on the agenda.”
Mark Bennett, secretary of Mountain Ash RFC, said: “Mountain Ash RFC is delighted to become the new home for the South Wales Scorpions. Given the Club's Rugby League connections, particularly from an historical perspective, it would suggest somewhat an air of inevitability about this development.
“The Club's past is littered with players who excelled at both codes and, of course, one of its most illustrious sons of recent times, League legend Brian Juliff, still has very close connections with the club and the town itself. With Brian's current status as chairman of Wales Rugby League, it gives added resonance for his home town to become a custodian of Rugby League.
“We hope the people of Mountain Ash, and indeed the surrounding area, will embrace this new venture, and help to give the Scorpions a true sense of belonging in Mountain Ash.”
Juliff said: “South Wales Scorpions went through a number of important changes during 2014 which included a change of ownership. Throughout the season the team have been resolute and the spirit in the club is very strong. The support received from Maesteg RFC this year has helped us build a sustainable business and also helped Scorpions club officials understand what the important next steps are towards success.
“The key message is about putting down roots in a localised community with good road and rail links and is a place where the team can both play and train. Mountain Ash offers those facilities and of course with the ground next door to my old school it also gives me a real sense of achievement. I have never lost my contacts with my home town and feel very proud to work with the officials at the Old Firm to partner Rugby League with Rugby Union and to have the benefit of sharing good practice in terms of training and playing.
“This liaison offers a huge opportunity for both codes to establish strong school and youth development links in a solid partnership.”