Wales has a long history with the sport of rugby, so much so that the oval ball has become one of the national symbols of the country. But, next year, Wales will make some new history in the game, when the country’s national Wheelchair Rugby League side takes on the USA.

The games, which will be played in South Carolina, will be the first wheelchair rugby league matches to ever be played in the Americas, with the double header taking place on 2 and 3 February 2024.

Just like the conventional running version of the sport, there are two different formats of rugby played in wheelchairs, rugby league and rugby union. Though each discipline is based around the same set of rules, the two versions of the sport differ primarily through the scoring system and the number of players allowed on the pitch at one given time.

Wheelchair rugby league is considered to be one of the most inclusive sports in the world, with wheelchair athletes and non-disabled players of all genders able to play in the same team. While the game has enjoyed a growing following throughout the UK and France, it remains little-known in the USA.

A woman and three men playing wheelchair rugby.
Welsh Wheelchair Rugby League squad player Lucie Roberts, Wales v Scotland

Speaking about the importance of spreading the game to the Americas, Wales wheelchair head coach, Alan Caron, said ‘It’s going to be a tour not just about winning the games that we play, but it’s all about the development side of the game, making sure that they [the USA] have got things in place so they can grow the game of wheelchair rugby league.’

Though it’s the first home wheelchair rugby league game for the USA, it is not the first time the two sides have met, with Wales producing a comeback win against their upcoming hosts during the 2021 Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup – the USA’s debut at the tournament.

As well as being a milestone for wheelchair rugby league, the tests in February will mark only the third time a Welsh rugby league side – running or wheelchair-based – has ever played in North America.

Learn more about Wales’ long history with the oval ball, or find out more about one of the events where you can see wheelchair rugby in action, the excellent Para Sport Festival in Swansea.

Two men in wheelchairs playing rugby.
A man in a wheelchair with a rugby ball.
Welsh Wheelchair Rugby League squad - Harry Jones and Mark Williams, Wales v USA

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