THERE was double joy for Kieran Taylor as North Wales Crusaders celebrated a successful season.

Crusaders, who went close to securing promotion to the Championship as they reached the grand final of the League 1 play-offs, marked a dramatic campaign with their end of season awards.

These were staged at Ramada Plaza Wrexham and terrific Taylor claimed a pair of awards on the evening.

He was named as the coaches’ player of the year and Taylor also walked away with the players’ player of the year gong.

Try of the year went to Cole Oakley, for his dramatic late score in the brilliant 25-18 play-off triumph at league runners-up Hunslet.

Owain Abel, who kicked a drop goal in that game, was named as supporters’ player of the season while the Jacqui Walker award, given to the person who had contributed most to the club, went to Nick Settle.

The awards evening was also the perfect occasion to mark the achievements of the club’s newly-former women’s team. Under the direction of Becki Davies, they successfully navigated an undefeated first season of competitive action.

The women’s coaches’ player of the year prize went to Becky Jarvis-Evans, with Stevie Donougher claiming the women’s players’ player of the year accolade.

“Congratulations to all the winners, thank you to everyone who attended and everyone who organised a fantastic event,” read a statement on the club’s Facebook page.

“Finally, a special thanks goes to Allington Hughes Law for sponsoring the event.

“Want to get involved and support our club? We have great sponsorship opportunities for 2024 for all sized budgets.

“Please drop us a message or email to discuss further.”

As things stand, Crusaders will only have eight home League 1 fixtures in 2024.

The loss of West Wales Raiders and London Skolars means there are just nine clubs left in the third tier.

Discussions have been mooted on a potential merger between the Championship and League 1, which is something North Wales Crusaders’ player-coach Carl Forster supports.

Forster told CruCast: “For me, I think there’s only two viable options.

“To merge and going east and west, which that’s probably the best solution long-term.

“Doing that, splitting it and going into a play-off system after that.

“If it’s too short notice because obviously of the distribution, money and all that goes with it and you keep a nine-team League 1, then you’ve just got to play each other three times.

“Obviously, you’ve got to try and split the travel, the incomes.

“You’re not going to please everyone, I understand that, but I think you’ve got to play three rounds.”

Forster stressed that 16 league games in a season was “not appealing to players”.

“You pick up a three, four-week injury and you’re done for a quarter of the season,” he added.

“So, I think something needs to change.

“Ideally I do believe it’s the merger and regionalise it, but how fair does that leave clubs like ourselves, you know, going up against Championship clubs with their distribution and our distribution?

“I just don’t know is my honest answer, but like I say, if it does stay League 1, I genuinely believe you’ve got to play each other three times over.”