Wales Rugby League organise and support women and girls playing the game at every level.
Our programme kicked off officially in 2019, but the first girls’ game in Wales was on Friday 30th July 2010 when Ysgol Tre-Gib from Llandeilo beat Dyffryn Taf School from Whitland 24-8. Then, late 2015 saw St Joseph’s High School of Wrexham beat Elfed High School from Buckley 12-0. However none of this was built on at the time.
The launch of Wheelchair Rugby League in Wales, a game played equally by all in the same side, meant that Wales soon had its first female international player. This was Sarah-Anne Evans who played for Wales in the Celtic Cup against Scotland and Ireland on April 30th 2016. The first female scorer for Wales was Claire Cranston, who got three tries for Wales in the 2017 Wheelchair World Cup – one against Italy on July 25th and two against Spain on July 27th where she was awarded player of the match. In the next World Cup, held in 2022, we made Wheelchair RL history by fielding two women in the side, Jodie Boyd-Ward, who at the end of 2022 was the world’s most capped female player and joint most capped wheelchair player, and Lucie Roberts. The Wales Wheelchair side had previously made history in 2014 by appointing Alana Sargent as their head coach.
The women’s game finally took off in the summer of 2019 when Cardiff Blue Dragons played a two match series against Rhondda Outlaws. Cardiff won both of the games, 52-10 at home on July 27th and 30-28 away a week later. The first Women’s Origin match took place in Cardiff on August 25th 2019 where East Wales beat West Wales 32-6.
Two Wales women’s international games were played in the autumn of 2019 with the first head coach being Craig Taylor, who was also the coach of the Bradford Bulls women’s U19 side. Wales historically beat England Lions in their second outing and were captained by the first ever Welsh female dual-code international Rafiuke Taylor. They are now preparing to qualify for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup full of hope after winning the European Championship B North in 2022.
In 2021, Wales Rugby League formed a side for the new RFL run competition Women’s Super League South, naming it Cardiff Demons after the historic men’s club, and finished with a 100 per cent record in the first season, dramatically beating the British Army 30-26 in the Grand Final. The second season saw them retaining the trophy after beating London Broncos 34-4.
In 2022, more advancements were made with the first ever Champion Schools girls match where Glantaf beat Rhydywaun 42-0 at year 11 level. That came within weeks of Wales Rugby League in association with Coleg y Cymoedd launching the first ever regional junior programme in Wales, playing their first games at U16 level in 2022 and U14 in 2023. Although girls have been joining U10 and U12 “boys” sides in Wales for a few years now, Welsh clubs are now looking to launch bonafide girls’ sides in 2023.
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