RFL chairman gives Welsh rugby league pledge

Chairman Richard Lewis insists the Rugby Football League will not give up on developing the sport in Wales.

Crusaders withdraw their application to extend their three-year Super League franchise because of financial issues .

Rugby League's viability in Wales has once again been thrown into doubt and Lewis admits: "The developments at Crusaders are undoubtedly a setback.

"Rugby League in Wales has made massive strides... and I am confident we can build on that burgeoning popularity."

The RFL controversially awarded Crusaders the chance to expand the game's frontiers beyond its traditional north of England heartland.

Crusaders

But high-profile visa issues , relocation upheaval , financial turmoil and administration have dogged the club and its stay in the top flight will end at the conclusion of this season.

The governing body, however, insists the country that gave rugby league Keiron Cunningham, Iestyn Harris, Clive Sullivan, Jonathan Davies, Dai Watkins and Billy Boston will not be forgotten.

Wales will host its first Four Nations fixture in November when Australia visit Wrexham and the 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be co-hosted by the Welsh.

Lewis added: "For all the well-documented problems the Crusaders have experienced the sport has gone from strength to strength at community level and the health of those grass roots bodes well for the future.

"Our commitment to the sport in Wales has not diminished and I am sure the people of Wales will continue to respond in massive numbers to the opportunities they have to play and watch rugby league."

Wales boast two professional rugby league teams as the Neath-based South Wales Scorpions play in the Championship One and the Crusaders could join them in the lower leagues.

Lewis confirmed: "We are speaking to the club about the possibility of them having a presence in the Co-operative Championships next season as well as exploring other options."