The SLRFU was admitted into the IRB in 1988, as a member of the Asian Rugby Football Union.
The Ceylon RFU ceased participating in the competition in the late 1960s.
Sri Lanka discovered the game of rugby at the same time as India, and the first rugby club, the Colombo Football Club, was founded in Sri Lanka in 1879 (in 1896 the Colombo Football Club amalgamated with the Colombo Hockey Club to become the Colombo Hockey and Football Club).
The first rugby match played between two selected teams occurred on 30 June that year between Colombo and a 'World' Team. Joseph became the first Ceylonese to represent an English School in Cricket and Rugby.
In 1968 four clubs sides were invited to participate in the All India Rugby Tournament, Havelock SC, Police SC, CH & FC and CR & FC against four Indian teams, Calcutta, Madras, Armenians and Maharashtra Police. R & FC were the eventual winners defeating Havelock SC by 8 points to 6 in the final.
In December 1973 the Ceylon RFU was renamed the Sri Lankan Rugby Football Union (SLRFU).