Neath have a special fixture lined up for The Gnoll on Friday, November 2 – the eve of the Wales-Scotland international.
Crawshay’s Welsh RFC will play the Hong Kong national team at the famous old ground with a 7.30pm kick off – the first time in Crawshay’s history where the club will play an international team on home Welsh soil.
Hong Kong are ranked 21st in the World and have every chance of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. They are using the Crawshay’s fixture as a final warm up game before they head to Marseilles for their World Cup qualifying play-offs with Canada, Germany and Kenya.
The Crawshay’s squad, as always, will predominantly be chosen from the talent within the Welsh Premiership. Clubs have no fixtures on that weekend so a strong side should be available.
Crawshay’s Welsh RFC toured the Netherlands in the summer comfortably beating the national team who are ranked 27thin the world, just in front of Germany and Kenya.
Hong Kong’s coaching team has a heavy Welsh connection in Head of Rugby Dai Rees, head coach Leigh Jones and forwards coach Andrew Hall – former Dragons all.
The visiting team will feature at least two Welsh ex-pats in hooker Ben Roberts (Bedwas) and lock Craig Lodge (Cardiff) who have qualified through residency.
Entry is just £5 with Under-16’s FREE and pre-match hospitality starting at 6pm will be available, full details to follow.
Neath secretary Mike Price said, “We are honoured to be hosting a prestigious fixture such as this. From the days of Dai Hiddlestone and Tom Hollingdale between the wars, Neath men have always figured prominently in Crawshay’s rugby so the connection continues.
“It has been a while since we hosted an international occasion at The Gnoll and it will be great to welcome both Crawshay’s and Hong Kong to The Gnoll in November.
“It is fitting that Crawshay’s RFC should choose Neath – where the WRU itself was formed in 1881 – to host its first home international and I am sure that the rugby people of Neath and the surrounding District will lend their support to an auspicious occasion.”
Neath general manager Gareth Howells added, “We are delighted to be hosting this very special game as touring fixtures are always an attraction and, of course, they promote the name of Neath to a wider audience across the world.
“The game is only two days ahead of our annual Community Fireworks Display on Sunday, November 4th but we are looking at one or two events around the game which will make it extra special and further details will follow.”