The South African Rugby League represents the second official incarnation of the sport in the Republic of South Africa – the first administration was known as the South African Rugby Board - following a lengthy, politically-inspired ban, in the 1960s. In the period of national reconciliation following the end of Apartheid in 1994 the South African Rugby Board (majority black players) and South African Rugby Union (majority white players) amalgamated and the ban on rugby league was rescinded. During the Super League War two South African federations sat on theInternational Rugby League Board and the World Super League International Board. Reformation, and the founding of the RLIF and SARL, occurred on 19 August 1998.
In 2011 the SARL adopted a new constitution, originally formed by seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Each province elects a chairman, who represents his province’s interests at the SARL general assembly. The general assembly’s annual meeting takes place every November. The SARL Board of Directors is manned by the provincial chairman. The governing body owns the commercial arm of the sport, SARL (Pty) Ltd. Directors of the latter are constitutionally prohibited from sitting on the SARL Board.
One of the ten founding Full Members of the RLIF, SARL became a Full Member of the RLEF in February 2012, partly to support development initiatives throughout Africa’s Commonwealth countries. Its objective is recognition by the South African Sports Commonwealth and Olympic Committee.
Operationally, SARL runs a two phase championship culminating in a three-tier play off, the Rhino Cup (First Division), Protea Cup (Second Division) and President's Cup (Third Division).