Rugby League in South Africa 

South African Rugby League originated in 1953 when Ludwig Japhet formed a committee with the sole purpose of promoting rugby league in South Africa. Many years of evolution and change followed driven by sports and national politics until 2013, when the South African Rugby League Sporting Association was established under the leadership of Kobus Botha.

The first international games played in South Africa were exhibition games played against the French and the English in 1957. Following the death of Ludwig Japhet in 1960, the committee divided and two separate rugby league organisations was formed, the National Rugby League and Rugby League South Africa. Both organisations played England in 1962.

In 1962 the RLIF put forth a proposal to merge the two bodies and formed South African Rugby League.

Following the games in 1963 against the Australians, SARL faded away only to emerge again in1990. The 1990’s promised South African Rugby League a brighter future, but with the return of the Rhino’s from their Australasia tour in 1997, rugby league withered away under political pressure from Dr Danie Craven.


South African Rugby League is governed by a board of members consisting of the chairman of the different provinces. The board meet once a year to report back to its members. The board is also responsible for constitutional rules and regulations and strategic planning.

The board has no executive function and refers the strategic plan to a board of directors that serves as the acting body of the South African Rugby League Sporting Association.

SARLSA is an associated member of the South African Rugby Union. SARU is a recognised by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). SARLSA 

 National Competition

Clubs compete in a Premier and Platinum club competition in their provinces for the Jan Prinsloo Cup. The strongest and most prominent clubs are all based in Gauteng.

On national level the provinces compete for the Rhino Cup in a regional competition. In the past few seasons 6 teams competed in this championship. The greatest rivalry is between Northern Gauteng and Mpumalanga.