Rugby Football League


The sport of Rugby League was born in England with the foundation of the Northern Union in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in August 1895 – and the national governing body has been known as the Rugby Football League since 1922. 


The RFL has an independent Board of Directors, and answers to its member clubs through twice-yearly meetings of the Rugby League Council.

The RFL is responsible for community Rugby League in England, as well as the professional game. This includes Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, Physical Disability and Learning Disability Rugby League (PDRL and LDRL), Wheelchair Rugby League, Masters and a number of other formats.

National competition

Betfred Super League is the Northern Hemisphere's premier men's competition contested by 12 teams including 10 from England, one from France and one from Canada. It is the top tier of three divisions of clubs, sitting above the Championship and League 1 – competitions which also include one team from France with one from Canada to join in 2021. All Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs compete in the Coral Challenge Cup, Rugby League’s oldest knockout competition which dates back to 1896, and also features the participation of leading community clubs.

This structure is increasingly mirrored in the women’s game. The Betfred Women's Super League competition, founded with four teams in 2017, has grown to a 10-team competition in 2020, with Championship and League 1 competitions below, and all clubs participating in the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup.

The Rugby Football League recorded a total number of 109,000 active participants in England at the end of 2019, on course for the target of 115,000 set by Sport England by the end of 2021.

national teams

The England Performance Unit is part of the RFL, with responsibility for England Men, England Women and England Wheelchair, all of whom are preparing for the 2021 Rugby League World Cups.

The EPU also manages England Knights teams (Men and Women), and England Academy and Youth teams (Men only).

England Community Lions teams also operate at open age (Men and Women), and youth levels (Boys only).