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Rugby union or Rugby league?

Answers:1   |   LastAnswerAt:2011.05  

Asked at 2011.05.05 00:12:07
I'm intrested in supporting a rugby team, but don't know what version of rugby to watch, union or league. Which is more popular out of the two? Also any suggestions of who to support.
answer blm  Answered at 2011.05.05 00:12:07
Worldwide, Union is much much bigger. Union is played everywhere -- League is only played (seriously) in northern England and eastern Australia. Only three countries can put together a legitimate League side -- England, Australia and New Zealand -- and New Zealand is questionable.

As for the games, League is faster, and comes with bigger hits (including shoulder charges which are illegal in Union) because they have eliminated the competition for the ball at the breakdown. It is also much more predictable, and in my opinion, mind-knumbingly repetitive. Four charges up the middle, then (maybe) an outside pass and a kick. Once in a while someone misses a tackle and a team scores. In Union, you never know what is going to come next. A pick and go, crashball, outside pass, up-and-under, a chip or grubber, or a rolling maul -- they are all effective attacking techniques. You take chances in Union (and do a lot more tactical kicking) because you know the ball can change hands any time you take it into contact. Even the contested lineouts (which League fans pretend to despise) give a variety of attacking and defending options.

The question as to which is better is a matter of heated and endless debate in the rugby world. Union is generally easier to follow outside of the UK and Australia, and I obviously much prefer the Union game (it makes me physically ill to watch those uncontested scrums in League) but plenty of League fans disagree. Entirely up to you. Or you could follow both -- there are people who do that too.

Edit: Yes Andrew: the Kiwis did beat the Kangaroos in the final. But it was a shocking upset. What I meant by my comment was that New Zealand cannot (at least not yet) be expected to be consistently competitive with Australia and England. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think that is still the general consensus. I note that only a few years ago S.B. Willams choose to be capped as a Kangaroo in League, even though he was born and bred a Kiwi, which says something about the relative status of the two sides.

And Bolton Bon's comments on the class differences between Union and League are years out of date. It may have been true once, but certainly not any more. Both sports are fully professional now, and Union pays significantly more, which means that any League player who is good enough to play Union gets snatched up by a Union club. As for the reason why Union is more popular -- well like I said, probably because League is mind-knumbingly repetitive and predictable.

I guess it does take all sorts -- personally I would rather watch 20 minutes of contested scrumming (certainly not the norm) in a Union match than have to sit and watch a single one of those glorified group hugs that League calls a scrum
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