Rugby League, or Rugby League Football to give it its full title, is a hard-hitting, fast-flowing team sport requiring a number of attributes including speed, strength, determination, courage and a willingness to take a hit — and lots of them.
As a contact sport, Rugby League is one of the most physical there is. But don’t think that Rugby League is all about sheer size and strength, as although it is an obvious advantage, skill and tactics play a significant part in the game too. Rugby League players have to be multi-skilled, being able to run, kick and handle the ball well, but players do have specialist roles within their team to utilise their specific skills and attributes.
The laws of Rugby League have been changed over the years, many of the changes aimed at creating a faster, more spectator-friendly sport. The absence of mauls, rucks and line-outs (found in Rugby Union), mean there are generally fewer stoppages in play and fewer laws for the referee to interpret, making it easier for the spectator to follow.
When taking into consideration the fact that there are only 13 players on the field of play (compared to 15 in Rugby Union), that’s a lot of ground for the players to cover, so they need to be very fit and mobile.
The origins of Rugby League
The foundations of Rugby League are to be found in nineteenth century England. A group of clubs based in the north of England, who participated in the one unified rugby code of the time, became disgruntled and set up their own competition. They had become frustrated with Rugby Football Union rules which prevented them from paying players for the time off work that was required for playing matches or even when they were absent from work due to injury sustained during a match.
The 21 clubs formed their own breakaway league on August 29, 1895. Since this date the game has evolved with a series of rule and structural changes which all helped differentiate Rugby League from its predecessor.
It was not until 1922 that the Northern Rugby Union adopted the name Rugby League for their set of rules, by which time their version of the sport had already been exported to New Zealand, Australia and later to France which hosted the first Rugby League World Cup in 1954. The sport is now played by over 30 countries worldwide and continues to increase in popularity.
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