3 Nov 2022
Williams relishing biggest Wheelchair World Cup yet
Wales skipper never thought he would lead his country on such a grand stage
By Oli Dickson Jefford
Stuart Williams thought this day would never come for him.
Wales’ captain always hoped the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup would reach the heights that it now has, though he never truly believed it would be during his own playing career.
Williams will be leading his side in group stages matches against defending champions France, Scotland and the USA, in what is the biggest staging of the tournament to date.
The number of teams in the event has risen to eight, while for the first time competitors will receive a participation fee for competing.
To lead his country out at the World Cup is a privilege he is not taking lightly, but the opportunity to play at the greatest staging of the event yet makes it even sweeter.
He said: “I did think it may happen, but I didn’t think it would happen for me. I remember having a one-to-one conversation with England’s Jack Brown and he was talking about the legacy of the sport going forward, and people talking about the game being seen on an equal level playing field, players being paid. We have that here at this competition.
“Players are having a participation fee, which is an amazing step forward as no one would have ever imagined that. At the last couple of competitions players have had to self-fund, to have that all taken off our minds so we can just focus on being players is a massive thing.
“It will be impressive to see how big it can go once I’ve left this game, as I never imagined that it would be in my playing time that this would happen. I’m happy it is for me, for my teammates and everyone else, but it’ll be interesting to see how big it goes and where it will be going.
“Being the captain of Wales and wearing the shirt, leading our team out, it means a shed load to me. I can’t really put it into words, it’s a true honour. It means so much to us that as a part of this family of players, that I am the one leading us out, and people have trusted me to do that.
“It means the world to me, I can’t really put it in any more ways. It’s such respect and honour, and I appreciate it across the board. I’m very excited, nervous at the same time which is quite understandable as it’s a whole different level of tournament that we’re in here.”
Just one more sleep until the RLWC2021 wheelchair tournament kicks off!
Last night captains, coaches, media and RLWC2021 stakeholders joined together to officially launch the tournament ahead of the first game tomorrow.#RLWC2021 | @ESgloballaw pic.twitter.com/gHuXyigQHg
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) November 2, 2022
Wales’ campaign starts on Friday against number-one ranked France, before their matches against Scotland and the US.
Though anticipation is high for every clash it is that meeting against the defending champions that Williams is most excited for, and he and the Wales squad are not afraid of setting themselves ambitious targets.
He added: “I really can’t wait for the challenge of France. They’re the two-time defending champions and they’ve been number one for years, and I always like the underdog battle.
“I’m looking forward to Scotland because they're a gritty bunch and we always have a great battle with them. I’m looking forward to the dark horse of the USA, they’ve got some real speed so it’s going to be absolutely fantastic to play against these new players.
“My mindset and my goal is to be in the World Cup final and be lifting that trophy, as simple as that. There’s no reason why not. Yes, we’ve got to have a little bit of luck maybe, but we’ve also got to have a lot of heart and determination. We have that and that’s hopefully going to get us through.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets