And so one of my fellow writers set some ‘tongue in cheek’ questions for those of us who are rugby league supporters. I’d like to lay some groundwork before I answer, although this initial blurb partially answers question 7 – Does anyone care about league outside of Northern England/Queensland?
I am pretty much 100% an Essex Girl (probably should say woman) and I am 100% passionate about rugby league – or the ‘other code’ as my colleague labels the game. I was hooked 19 years ago when I went to a live game at Charlton FC between London Broncos and St Helens. I’d been a football fan from 15 and watched rugby union internationals from 17 but my 1st encounter with rugby league set me up as a league crazy southerner.
I have 3 season tickets for teams darn sarrf – London Broncos, London Skolars and Hemel Stags – although with the fools at the RFL ensuring same day fixtures getting to them all has been an issue this season. I must add before I go further that I’m a fan of rugby union too and have a Saracens season ticket. When I’m asked which I prefer I point out that I’ve seen far more dull union games than I have league, strangely one such boring league game was the 2103 World Cup sem-final when Australia scored 64 to Fiji’s 0 an incredibly one sided game that followed one of the most exciting rugby games I’ve seen from either code between England and New Zealand.
To answer the questions set (tongue in cheek of course!)
1. Why persist with the name rugby? The 29th August 1895 saw the Northern Union break away from the rugby union, with an initial 22 clubs. By 1904 the Northern Union had more clubs affiliated than the RFU. I’d say that 120 years of history entitles RUGBY league to use that title.
2. Why do all the players simply just run into each other? I suspect the question may have been asked by someone who’s never watched the game. One clear difference between the 2 codes is the stature of the players, to a man top flight league players are as fit as a butchers dog, and hey a tactic is to run straight early on in the set of 6, I’m pretty certain union players do that too. On average I’d say more tries are scored week in week out in league matches – exciting one at that! No rumbling over the line where no one has a clue what’s going on.
3. What’s the point of your scrums? Quite simply it’s a way to restart the game, one thing for sure is that there are never 10 minute scrums with things being reset time after yawn making time. The art of the scrum is skill in union, but my days it can be boring! Never the case in league.
4. Is there a reason for rolling the ball back with your foot after the tackle? Well yes, it’s one of the rules of the game?!?!?
5. What the hell is going on with your ‘throw ins’? There aren’t any – it’s rugby league not rugby union!
6. Why do you just hand over the ball over after six tackles? See Question 4
7. Does anyone care about league outside of Northern England/Queensland? Well – I’m from Essex….. And rugby league is growing at a fast pace all over the world, it’s a game that’s much easier to learn and participate in than the ‘other code’.
8. Why does nobody give a toss about your internationals? The 2013 World Cup was very well supported in England all around the country people showed interest. Unlike rugby union the tickets are accessible and affordable – a top price ticket for England v New Zealand is a mere £45
9. What’s with the short shorts? To give the politically correct answer here – harder to grab?
10. Is there a reason your players all want to switch codes? All? A couple a year – money and bigger international crowds have to be a factor. On the other side – Is there a reason rugby union sees Sam Burgess as some sort of miracle saviour of English rugby union? Or a reason that each of the UK countries have a rugby league coach in their set up?
11. Do the positions actually have any relevance in rugby league? There are skills and jobs to be done in the same way as rugby union, on the run it’s not so obvious – there are no prop style players on a league field, but yes they do. League props carry the ball, do that running into people thing, scrum halves, hookers have wonderful ball handling skills and run the game. and like union the wingers are the speedy lads.
12. Are spear tackles actually allowed? Nope – its just taking a few players time to realise that!
There you go – my answers to the questions put – I see myself as a lucky person, I get to watch rugby all year long. A mistake people make who are a fan of only one of the codes is to look at say league and say it’s not like rugby union. Well no, it’s not, that’s because it’s a very different game! Look with fresh eyes at the code you don’t appreciate – you too may then get to watch rugby all year! Both games are played by immense athletes and watched by passionate fans, both deserve equal admiration