It is not easy for a newcomer to become invested in rugby as there are two distinctly different versions of the game. Referred to as codes, there is Rugby League and Rugby Union. The split between the two codes came to pass in the early 1890’s and has remained ever since. Union is considered the more popular of the two codes, but it does have the advantage of receiving a lot more TV and media coverage in comparison to League. In fact, Rugby Union has the upcoming Autumn International fixtures that are currently receiving the bulk of the headlines. You can use the Ladbrokes Rugby Score Generator to help you predict who might emerge victorious in each match.
Here we look at the major differences in rules between the two codes.
In a standard Rugby League game, there is a starting team of 13 players with 10 substitutions allowed ad hoc throughout the game. The objective of the game is advance the ball down the length of the pitch to successfully score a try. The oppositions attempt to prevent the advancing team by tackling the player in possession of the ball. Once a player is tackled, they must drop the ball and roll it behind them so it can be picked up by a fellow teammate. Within Rugby League there is a tackle limit, and once the limit is reached, the ball must be turned over to the opponent (similar to downs in American Football).
Scrums are generally awarded if the ball is out of play, this will then determine which team ends up with possession for the next part of play. Scrums traditionally consist of six people and can be awarded for a number of other infringements as well.
A try, in Rugby League, is worth 4 points, while a goal is worth 2 points and a field goal (or drop goal) is only worth 1 point.
There are 15 starting players in a game of Rugby Union, but only 7 substitutions allowed. Points are scored by advancing the ball past the opposing teams try line (like a touchdown in American Football) and further points are scored by kicking the ball through the goal posts.
Unlike League, once a player is tackled in Rugby Union the ball can then be collected by a player from either team, as long as they are on their feet and have not come from an offside position. There is also no limit to the number of tackles and a line-out is used to restart the game once the ball goes out of play.
Any other infringements are solved with a scrum, but in Union they consist of eight people. A try is worth 5 points, penalty kicks (drop kicks) are worth 3 and a conversion kick is worth 2.
North vs. South
There is a clear division throughout the UK, with the north of England more likely to prefer Rugby League, while the south is more likely to prefer Union. This may hark back to the original split between the two codes, when Union was more commonly played by the upper classes, particularly at grammar schools and universities. Whereas, League was more frequently played by the working classes and their standard of play wasn’t as high because they couldn’t afford to take the time off work to train as rigorously as Union players.