After a two-year absence due to Covid-19, the Wales Rugby League’s domestic competitions will resume at the end of May, bigger than ever before in it’s near 20-year history, with boy’s U10s and women’s senior leagues both taking place for the first time.
The key emphasis for the community league is fun, with women’s and men’s double headers on Saturdays, and all junior games on a Sunday, starting on May 30, to encourage a festival feeling.
The new Betfred Women’s Super League franchise based at Cardiff Arms Park adds a much-needed element of elite performance for the women’s pathway, with all players dual-registered with their community clubs.
In South Wales, there will be two five-team men’s and women’s competitions, with Aber Valley Wolves, Bridgend Blue Bulls, Cardiff Blue Dragons, Rhondda Outlaws and Torfaen Tigers all competing.
Cardiff Blue Dragons won home and away fixtures against Rhondda Outlaws when two women’s matches were played in 2019, but this year will see a full domestic league where sides will play each other once. These games have been arranged around the new Betfred Super League South side’s fixtures and the international against England on Friday June 25.
The Outlaws are the holders of the men’s competition having won the Grand Final in 2019. All sides will field their first teams in this competition, with Torfaen Tigers opting not to field a side in the English Southern Conference League this year. Aber Valley Wolves, who have successfully run junior sides for a decade, return to the senior competition for the first time in five years.
The opening day’s women’s and men’s matches on Saturday June 12 sees Bridgend Blue Bulls host Cardiff Blue Dragons and Rhondda Outlaws host Torfaen Tigers. Aber Valley Wolves’ men’s and women’s sides will kick off a week later on June 19 when they host Bridgend.
The top two sides in each of the two senior leagues will meet in Grand Finals on Sunday August 21 at a venue to be confirmed.
Domestic rugby league also returns to North Wales with a four-team competition also kicking off on Saturday June 12 when Marchogion Môn Knights of Anglesey host Conwy Celts at Llangefni RFC and Wrexham Crusaders host Flintshire Falcons at Wrexham RFC.
Each side will face each other once over a three-week period, and the top two will also meet in a Grand Final, this one being a curtain raiser to North Wales Crusaders v West Wales Raiders on August 1 at Stadiwm Zip World in Colwyn Bay.
Following the Grand Finals, women’s and men’s Origin series between North, East and West will take place, with games on September 4, 11 and 18.
The always successful South Wales junior leagues continue in 2021 with increased participation. The planned U14 and U16 leagues for 2020 become U15 and U17, with U13 and U10 also being introduced in addition to the existing U12s, giving WRL five age groups for the first time. The new age groups cater for players who missed nearly a year of Rugby League.
A notable returning name is Aberavon Fighting Irish, who will field a side at U17 level, whilst Swansea Stallions, who registered for 2020 but like everyone else didn’t get underway, will finally make their debut at U15 level. Cynon Valley Cavaliers celebrate their second season as a club by fielding a side at every age-grade level with the hope of forming open-age sides in future years.Sunday August 15 will be finals day for all five levels, with Origin Day, East v West, taking place a week later.
All games to be played under the WRL covid protocols and whatever the prevailing Welsh Government guidance is for competitive matches and spectator gatherings.
Junior Leagues can start on Sunday May 30
Open Age Round 1 – Saturday June 12
Open Age Round 2 – Saturday June 19
England v Wales – Friday June 25
Men’s Round 3 – Saturday June 26
Wales SL side’s first game – away v Golden Ferns – Saturday July 3
Men’s Round 4 / Women’s Round 3 – Saturday July 3
Men’s Round 5 / Cornish Rebels v Wales SL Women – Saturday July 10
Men’s Round 6 / Women’s Round 4 – Saturday July 17
Men’s Round 7 / Women’s Round 5 – Saturday July 24
Men’s Round 8 / Wales SL Women v Cornish Rebels – Saturday July 31
North Wales Open Age Grand Finals – Sunday August 1
Men’s Round 9 / Wales SL Women v Golden Ferns – Saturday August 7
Men’s Round 10 / Super League Women Semi-Final – Saturday August 14
South Wales Junior Grand Finals – Sunday August 15
South Wales Open Age Grand Finals – Saturday August 21
Junior Origin Day – Sunday August 22
Super League Women Grand Final – Sunday August 29
Senior Origin – East v North – Saturday September 4
Senior Origin – North v West – Saturday September 11
Senior Origin – West v East – Saturday September 18