On 29th August 1895, Rugby League was born as 21 clubs based in the north of England broke away from English Rugby Union's governing body and formed their own competition. The breakaway was caused by the northern clubs' desire to pay players which was outlawed at the time in Rugby Union.
It was not until 1907 that Rugby League was first played in Wales with clubs joining the Northern Union. When the Welsh Northern Union (WNU) was formed in Wrexham the Northern Union refused it affiliation as they wanted the body located in the South of Wales, which is the heartland of Welsh rugby union, and the WNU soon folded.
The first Rugby League tour of the UK by an overseas team took place in 1907 as converted New Zealand Union players, dubbed the 'All Golds,' travelled overseas. The first 13-a-side international Rugby League match took place on this tour in January 1908, with Wales winning 9-8 against the All Golds before a crowd of 20,000 at Abedare from a try scored by Dai "Tarw" Jones.
The current Wales Rugby League organisation was formed in 1995 and is a descendant of the Rugby Football League’s Welsh Commission . In 2005 WRL received full governing body status and was recognised collectively by the RFL, the British Amateur Rugby League Association and the Welsh Sports Council.
George Bennett started his career as a rugby union player, joining Weston-super-Mare in 1929. He left Wales due to the racism of the Welsh Rugby Union preventing him from playing for the national team, and signed for rugby league side Wigan in November 1930.
Wales Rugby League would give Bennett the oppurtunity he had always hoped for where he would go on to win three caps for Wales from 1935–1936 while at Wigan, becoming the first black man to represent a British national team at rugby league.
In May 2009 Welsh club the Celtic Crusaders create a unique first in England's Super League competition which saw the first match contested between two non-English sides when the Crusaders faced the French side Catalans Dragons in front of 2,927 people at Bridgend's Brewery Field.
An original Affiliate Member of the RLEF when that organisation was formed in 2003, Wales became the twelfth member [full] of the RLIF following a meeting in Melbourne in May 2010, and a full member of the RLEF in October that same year.
WRL employed its first professional chairman in 2006. The chair presides over a Board representing the key stakeholders in the game, with directors having been drawn from the Welsh clubs, the RFL, the professional clubs, co-opted specialists and the Welsh Assembly.
Whilst completely separate bodies, WRL has a good working relationship with the RFL, the NGB for rugby league in the United Kingdom which is based in England. Indeed the RFL were the main instigators of establishing WRL by helping to form a new WRL Board in 1995 and funding full or part-time development posts in Wales since 1997.
European Championship Winners
1935-36, 1936-37, 1938, 1995, 2009, 2010, 2015