Andrew Higgins retires from Wales international rugby league

Wales Rugby League’s record international point scorer, the Wheelchair Rugby League player, Andrew Higgins has announced his retirement from the game after a stellar nine-year career.

The 24-year old Wrexham born player, who made his debut for North Wales Crusaders in 2014, is moving to the USA for study purposes.

He made his Welsh debut later that year and has been a main stay in the side ever since, going on to win 35 caps, including appearances and both the 2017 and 2022 World Cups. His points scoring record of 449 consists of 47 tries, 129 goals and 3 drop goals.

For his clubs, Higgins went on to win a number of minor competitions with Crusaders before moving to English side Hereford Harriers in 2018, which is where he saw the majority of his domestic success winning a domestic treble in his debut season.

Upon his retirement, he said: “First I need to thank everybody I have met over the last nine years since starting to play this sport.

“Coming in as a naive 15 year old able bodied athlete, I was welcomed into the sport and world of wheelchair rugby league.

“My decision to retire this young was always a hard one but with plans and commitments being moved out of the UK over the recent years it’s been an easier decision to make on my own terms.

“The sport of Wheelchair Rugby League has changed and progressed massively over the last nine years into something I don’t think anyone ever thought it would, but we always knew it had the potential to gain the outreach that it now has. From being one of seven players who attended the first Wales trials in 2014, to now seeing over 25 players attend the trials for the 2022 season just shows how the sport has grown. Representing my country since 2014 and being part of the squad to play in two World Cups and winning the Celtic Cup four times, is an honour I never thought I’d receive.

“Being able to close my playing career after representing my country in a broadcasted World Cup semi-final and being able to play in-front of over a thousand people is also something I never imagined to experience while playing rugby.

“As I step away, I need to be thankful to the coaches who have taught me the game. The players I have been fortunate to share the court with and make many memories. As well as my parents, family and friends for all the on-going support, drive and encouragement during this journey.”

Stephen Jones, Wales Rugby League Wheelchair Development Officer said: “Over the past nine years, Andrew has been a key figure in the national team setup, whether he has been available for fixtures and training or not.

“I remember bringing Andrew to his first ever taster session for Wheelchair Rugby League and his potential showed up right away.

“I’ll never forget selecting him for the Wales team in 2014 and it has been a pleasure to see his career develop with the national team and with his domestic sides as his ability as one of Wales’ only able-bodied players has helped the national and his domestic teams become a force over the course of his career.

“Andrew set the standards for able-bodied players in Wales and played a critical part in shaping our style of play on pitch and also who we are off the pitch. He played a massive role in our Celtic Cup dominance over the recent years and also our success at the World Cup.

“Congratulation to him in all he has achieved in becoming one of the key players in the development of wheelchair rugby league in Wales over the past decade, and I am delighted to hear that he will be using his experiences in sport to help inspire new athletes over in the States.”

Harry Jones, North Wales Crusaders board member and long-time international team-mate and friend said: “I would like to congratulate Andrew on an outstanding career. He joined the Crusaders team with a wealth of knowledge and experience in Rugby League but no experience or history of any wheelchair sports. At the point in joining Crusaders, it was at a time where the sport of Wheelchair Rugby League had little to no profile in Wales. Andrew has been a great ambassador for the Crusaders, even at a time where he wasn’t a part of the club, spreading the good word of the team and I am sure that with his experiences and knowledge, Andrew will excel in his work over in America.”