Rugby league

Last updated

Rugby league
Lance hohaia running into the defence (rugby league).jpg
An attacking player attempts to evade two defenders
Highest governing body International Rugby League
NicknamesLeague, RL, rugby, rugby XIII (used throughout Europe)
League, footy, football (used throughout the Oceania regions)
First played7 September 1895, Yorkshire, Northern England (post schism)
Contact Full
Team membersThirteen
Mixed-sex Single
Type Team sport, Outdoor
Equipment Rugby league ball
Venue Rugby league playing field
Country or regionWorldwide (most popular in Oceania, northern England and southern France)

Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league or simply league, rugby, football, or footy, is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field measuring 68 metres (75 yards) wide and 112–122 metres (122 to 133 yards) long with H shaped posts at both ends of the field. [1] It is one of the two extant codes of rugby football, [2] it originated in Yorkshire in 1895 as the result of a split from the Rugby Football Union over the issue of payments to the players. [3] Its rules progressively changed with the specific aim of producing a faster and more entertaining game to appeal to spectators, on whose income it depended. [4]


In rugby league, points are scored by carrying an egg-shaped ball and touching it to the ground beyond the opposing team's goal line; this is called a try , and is the primary method of scoring. [5] The opposing team attempts to stop the attacking side scoring points by tackling the player carrying the ball. [5] In addition to tries, points can be scored by kicking goals. Field goals can be attempted at any time, and following a successful try, the scoring team gains a free kick to try at goal with a conversion for further points. [5] Kicks at goal may also be awarded for penalties.

The Super League in Europe and the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia are the world's premier club competitions. Globally, rugby league is played internationally, predominantly by European, Australasian, and Pacific Island countries, and is governed by the International Rugby League (IRL). Rugby league is the national sport of Papua New Guinea, [6] [7] [8] and is a popular sport in countries such as England, [9] Australia, [10] New Zealand, France, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and Lebanon. [11]

The first Rugby League World Cup was held in France in 1954, the first World Cup of either Rugby code; the current holders are Australia. [12]


Rugby league football takes its name from the bodies that split to create a new form of rugby, distinct from that run by the Rugby Football Unions, in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand between 1895 and 1908.

The first of these, the Northern Rugby Football Union, was established in 1895 as a breakaway faction of England's Rugby Football Union (RFU). Both organisations played the game under the same rules at first, although the Northern Union began to modify rules almost immediately, thus creating a new simpler game that was intended to be a faster-paced form of rugby football. Similar breakaway factions split from RFU-affiliated unions in Australia and New Zealand in 1907 and 1908, renaming themselves "rugby football leagues" and introducing Northern Union rules. [13] In 1922, the Northern Union also changed its name to the Rugby Football League [14] and thus over time the sport itself became known as "rugby league" football.


George Hotel, Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league The George Hotel, Huddersfield - - 676033.jpg
George Hotel, Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league
The first ever Challenge Cup Final, 1897: Batley (left) vs St Helens (right) Challenge cup 1897.jpg
The first ever Challenge Cup Final, 1897: Batley (left) vs St Helens (right)

In 1895, a schism in Rugby football resulted in the formation of the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). [15] The success of working class northern teams led to some compensating players who otherwise would be on their job and earning income on Saturdays. This led to the RFU reacting to enforce the amateur principle of the sport, preventing "broken time payments" to players who had taken time off work to play rugby. Northern teams typically had more working class players (coal miners, mill workers etc.) who could not afford to play without this compensation, in contrast to affluent southern teams who had other sources of income to sustain the amateur principle. [3] In 1895, a decree by the RFU banning the playing of rugby at grounds where entrance fees were charged led to twenty-two clubs (including Stockport, who negotiated by telephone) meeting at the George Hotel, Huddersfield on 29 August 1895 and forming the "Northern Rugby Football Union". [16] Within fifteen years of that first meeting in Huddersfield, more than 200 RFU clubs had left to join the rugby league.

In 1897, the line-out was abolished [17] and in 1898 professionalism introduced. [18] In 1906, the Northern Union changed its rules, reducing teams from 15 to 13 a side and replacing the ruck formed after tackles with the play-the-ball. [19]

A similar schism to that which occurred in England took place in Sydney, Australia. There, on 8 August 1907 the New South Wales Rugby Football League was founded at Bateman's Hotel in George Street. [20] Rugby league then went on to displace rugby union as the primary football code in New South Wales and Queensland. [21]

On 5 May 1954 over 100,000 (official figure 102,569) spectators watched the 1953–54 Challenge Cup Final replay at Odsal Stadium, Bradford, England, setting a new record for attendance at a rugby football match of either code. [20] Also in 1954 the Rugby League World Cup, the first for either code of rugby, was formed at the instigation of the French. In 1966, the International Board introduced a rule that a team in possession was allowed three play-the-balls and on the fourth tackle a scrum was to be formed. This was increased to six tackles in 1972 and in 1983 the scrum was replaced by a handover. [22] 1967 saw the first professional Sunday matches of rugby league played.

The first sponsors, Joshua Tetley and John Player, entered the game for the 1971–72 Northern Rugby Football League season. Television had an enormous impact on the sport of rugby league in the 1990s, when News Corporation paid for worldwide broadcasting rights. The media giant's "Super League" movement created changes for the traditional administrators of the game. In Europe, it resulted in a move from Rugby League being a winter sport to a summer one, as the new Super League competition tried to expand its market. In Australasia, the Super League war resulted in long and costly legal battles and changing loyalties, causing significant damage to the code in an extremely competitive sporting market. In 1997 two competitions were run alongside each other in Australia, after which a peace deal in the form of the National Rugby League was formed. The NRL has since become recognised as the sport's flagship competition and since that time has set record TV ratings and crowd figures. [23]


Laws of the game

A typical game of rugby league being played. WIN Stadium trial match.jpg
A typical game of rugby league being played.

The objective in rugby league is to score more points through tries, goals and field goals (also known as drop goals) than the opposition within the 80 minutes of play. If after two-halves of play, each consisting of forty minutes, the two teams are drawing, a draw may be declared, or the game may enter extra time under the golden point rule, depending on the relevant competition's format.

The try is the most common form of scoring, [24] and a team will usually attempt to score one by running and kicking the ball further upfield or passing from player-to-player in order to manoeuvre around the opposition's defence. A try involves touching the ball to the ground on or beyond the defending team's goal-line and is worth four points. A goal is worth two points and may be gained from a conversion or a penalty. A field goal, or drop goal, is only worth one point and is gained by dropping and then kicking the ball on the half volley between the uprights in open play.

Field position is crucial in rugby league, [25] achieved by running with or kicking the ball. Passing in rugby league may only be in a backward or sideways direction. Teammates, therefore, have to remain on-side by not moving ahead of the player with the ball. The ball may be kicked ahead, but if teammates are in front of the kicker when the ball is kicked, they are deemed off-side.

Tackling is a key component of rugby league play. Only the player holding the ball may be tackled. A tackle is complete, for example, when the player is held by one or more opposing players in such a manner that he can make no further progress and cannot part with the ball, or when the player is held by one or more opposing players and the ball or the hand or arm holding the ball comes into contact with the ground. [26] An attacking team gets a maximum of six tackles to progress up the field before possession is changed over. Once the tackle is completed, the ball-carrier must be allowed to get to his feet to 'play-the-ball'. Ball control is also important in rugby league, as a fumble of the ball on the ground forces a handover, unless the ball is fumbled backwards. The ball can also be turned over by going over the sideline.

Comparison with rugby union

Rugby league and rugby union are distinct sports with many similarities and a shared origin. Both have the same fundamental rules, are played for 80 minutes and feature an oval-shaped ball and H-shaped goalposts. Both have rules that the ball cannot be passed forward, and dropping it forwards leads to a scrum. Both use tries as the central scoring method and conversion kicks, penalty goals and drop goals as additional scoring methods. However, there are differences in how many points each method is worth.

One of the main differences is the rules of possession. [27] When the ball goes into touch, possession in rugby union is contested through a line-out, while in rugby league a scrum restarts play. The lesser focus on contesting possession means that play focuses more on powerful running, hard tackling, forward progression and the contest for field position (commonly compared to an "arm wrestle"); as a result play stops much less frequently in rugby league, [28] with the ball typically in play for 50 out of the 80 minutes compared to around 35 minutes for professional rugby union. [29] Other differences include that there are fewer players in rugby league (13 compared to 15) [30] [31] and different rules for tackling. Rugby union has more detailed rules than rugby league [32] [33] and has changed less since the 1895 schism. [34]

Since rugby union turned professional in the mid-1990s, it has increasingly borrowed techniques, tactics and even laws from rugby league, while high profile players and coaches from the league game have increasingly gone on to success in the union code in those countries where both codes are popular (e.g. Andy Farrell, Jason Robinson and Henry Paul). [35] [36] The inherent similarities between rugby league and rugby union have at times led to experimental hybrid games being played that use a mix of the two sports' rules. [37] [38]

Comparison with gridiron codes

Much more so than rugby union, rugby league shares significant similarities with North American gridiron codes. Although described as evolving from both rugby and association football, the basic structures of American and Canadian football are remarkably similar to rugby league through a process of parallel evolution: a try-and-goal based scoring system, a set number of plays before handover of the football, each play restarting from a set piece position and ended by a tackle. The introduction of the forward pass and unlimited substitution in North America, however, created a fundamentally different game from either original rugby code.


Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity contesting the 2008 Boxing Day Festive Challenge friendly at Headingley Leeds Rhinos1.jpg
Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity contesting the 2008 Boxing Day Festive Challenge friendly at Headingley

Players on the pitch are divided into forwards and backs, although the game's rules apply to all players the same way. Each position has a designated number to identify himself from other players. These numbers help to identify which position a person is playing. The system of numbering players is different depending on which country the match is played in. In Australia and New Zealand, each player is usually given a number corresponding to their playing position on the field. However, since 1996 European teams have been able to grant players specific squad numbers, which they keep without regard to the position they play, similarly to association football. [39]

Substitutes (generally referred to as "the bench") are allowed in the sport, and are typically used when a player gets tired or injured, although they can also be used tactically. Each team is currently allowed four substitutes, and in Australia and New Zealand, these players occupy shirt numbers 14 to 22. [40] There are no limitations on which players must occupy these interchangeable slots. Generally, twelve interchanges are allowed in any game from each team, although in the National Rugby League, this was reduced to ten prior to the 2008 season [41] and further reduced to eight prior to the 2016 season. If a team has to interchange a player due to the blood bin rule or due to injury, and this was the result of misconduct from the opposing team, the compromised team does not have to use one of its allocated interchanges to take the player in question off the field.


The backs are generally smaller, faster and more agile than the forwards. They are often the most creative and evasive players on the field, relying on running, kicking and handling skills, as well as tactics and set plays, to break the defensive line, instead of brute force. Generally forwards do the majority of the work (hit-ups/tackling).

Usually, the stand-off/five-eighth and scrum-half/half-back are a team's creative unit or 'playmakers'. During the interactions between a team's 'key' players (five-eighth, half-back, fullback, lock forward, and hooker), the five-eighth and half-back will usually be involved in most passing moves. These two positions are commonly called the "halves".


Rugby league is noted for its hard physical play Ftwins.jpg
Rugby league is noted for its hard physical play

The forwards' two responsibilities can be broken into "normal play" and "scrum play". For information on a forward's role in the scrum see rugby league scrummage. Forward positions are traditionally named after the player's position in the scrum yet are equal with respect to "normal play" with the exception of the hooker. Forward positions are traditionally assigned as follows:

Rugby league worldwide

Rugby league is played in over 70 nations throughout the world. Seven countries – Australia, England, France, & New Zealand, and Wales – have teams that play at a professional level, while the rest are semi-professional or amateur. 45 national teams are ranked by the RLIF and a further 32 are officially recognized and unranked. [42] The strongest rugby league nations are Australia, England, New Zealand and Tonga.

World Cup

The Rugby League World Cup is the highest form of representative rugby league. Those which have contested World Cups are; Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Fiji, Wales, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Ireland, USA, Scotland, Italy, Tonga, Cook Islands, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa. The current World Champions are Australia, who won the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The next Rugby League World Cup will be held in October and November 2021 and hosted by England. This will be the first time that the Men's, Women's and Wheelchair competitions will be staged together. [43] The competition currently features 16 teams.

Oceania and South Pacific

Australia vs New Zealand at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Manu Vatuvei (26 October 2008).jpg
Australia vs New Zealand at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup

The Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation's purpose is to spread the sport of rugby league throughout their region along with other governing bodies such as the ARL and NZRL. [44] Since rugby league was introduced to Australia in 1908, it has become the largest television sport and 3rd most attended sport in Australia. [45] Neighbouring Papua New Guinea is one of two countries to have rugby league as its national sport (with Cook Islands). [7] [8] Australia's elite club competition also features a team from Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city. Rugby league is the dominant winter sport in the eastern Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland. [46] The game is also among the predominant sports of Tonga [47] and is played in other Pacific nations such as Samoa and Fiji. Researchers have found that rugby league has been able to help with improving development in the islands. [48] In Australia, and indeed the rest of the region, the annual State of Origin series ranks among the most popular sporting events. [49] [50]


The Rugby League European Federation are responsible for developing rugby league in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. [51]

Northern England location map.PNG
Rugby league is most popular in these locations along the M62 corridor in the north of England where the sport originated. Teams shown are those competing in the 2021 Super League (barring Catalans Dragons)

In England, rugby league has traditionally been associated with the historic northern counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland, where the game originated, especially in towns and cities along the M62 corridor. [9] Its popularity has also increased elsewhere. [52] [53] [54] As of 2021, only one of the twelve Super League teams are based outside of these traditional counties: Catalans Dragons (Perpignan, France). One other team from outside the United Kingdom, Toulouse Olympique, competes in the British rugby league system, although not at the highest tier Super League level, but rather in the second tier Championship.

Super League average attendances are in the 8,000 to 9,500 range. The average Super League match attendance in 2014 was 8,365. [55] In 2018 average Super League match attendance was 8,547. [56] Ranked the eighth most popular sport in the UK overall, [57] rugby league is the 27th most popular participation sport in England according to figures released by Sport England; the total number of rugby league participants in England aged 16 and over was 44,900 in 2017. [58] This is a 39% drop from 10 years ago. [58] While the sport is largely concentrated in the north of England there have been complaints about its lack of profile in the British media. On the eve of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final where England would face Australia, English amateur rugby league coach Ben Dawson stated, "we’re in the final of a World Cup. First time in more than 30 years and there's no coverage anywhere". [59]

France vs New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup at Parc des Sports (Avignon). Thomas Bosc 2013 (1).JPG
France vs New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup at Parc des Sports (Avignon).

France first played rugby league as late as 1934, where in the five years prior to the Second World War, the sport's popularity increased as Frenchmen became disenchanted with the state of French rugby union in the 1930s. [60] However, after the Allied Forces were defeated by Germany in June 1940, the Vichy regime in the south seized assets belonging to rugby league authorities and clubs and banned the sport for its association with the left-wing Popular Front government that had governed France before the war. [60] The sport was unbanned after the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 and the collapse of the Vichy regime, although it was still actively marginalised by the French authorities until the 1990s. [60] Despite this, the national side appeared in the finals of the 1954 and 1968 World Cups, and the country hosted the 1954 event. [61] [62] In 1996, a French team, Paris Saint-Germain was one of eleven teams which formed the new Super League, although the club was dissolved in 1997. [63] In 2006, the Super League admitted the Catalans Dragons, a team from Perpignan in the southern Languedoc-Roussillon region. [64] They have subsequently reached the 2007 Challenge Cup Final and made the playoffs of the 2008 Super League XIII season. The success of the Dragons in Super League has initiated a renaissance in French rugby league, with new-found enthusiasm for the sport in the south of the country where most of the Elite One Championship teams are based. In other parts of Europe, the game is played at semi-professional and amateur level.

North America

From 2017 to 2020, the Toronto Wolfpack were North America's only active professional Rugby League team, competing in the English Rugby League system. They won the 2017 Kingstone Press League 1 in their inaugural season and earned promotion to the 2018 Rugby League Championship. In 2019 The Wolfpack won promotion to the Super League, lasting only a few months before having to withdraw due to the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto play their home games at Lamport Stadium in downtown Toronto. [65] Beginning in 2022, the Ottawa Aces will join the English league pyramid, becoming the only Canadian team in the system after the Wolfpack were denied re-entry. The Aces will play out of TD Place Stadium. [66]

Starting in 2021, the North American Rugby League will be North America's professional championship, with Canadian club Toronto Wolfpack joining several USA Rugby League clubs, New York Freedom and Cleveland Rugby League to form the league's inaugural season. Several brand new clubs from Western USA will join up in 2022. [67] [68] The new competition is sanctioned by Canada Rugby League, but not yet by the United States governing body. [69]

Other countries

The early 21st century has seen other countries take up the game and compete in international rugby league with the Rugby League European Federation and Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation expanding the game to new areas such as Chile, Canada, Ghana, Philippines, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Hungary, Turkey, Thailand and Brazil to name a few. [70] [71] [72]

Domestic professional competitions

The two most prominent full-time professional leagues are the Australian/New Zealand National Rugby League and the British Super League.

Other professional and semi professional leagues include Australia's Queensland Cup (which includes a team from Papua New Guinea) and NSW Cup, the British RFL Championship and RFL League 1, the French Elite One Championship and Elite Two Championship and the new North American Rugby League.

The Papua New Guinea National Rugby League operates as a semi-professional competition and enjoys nationwide media coverage, being the national sport of the country.



The top five attendances for rugby league test matches (International) are:

GameDateTeam 1ScoreTeam 2VenueCityCrowd
2013 World Cup Final 30 November 2013 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia 34–2 Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand Old Trafford Manchester 74,468
1992 World Cup Final 24 October 1992 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia10–6 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain Wembley Stadium London 73,631
1932 Ashes series, game 16 June 1932 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain8–6 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia Sydney Cricket Ground Sydney 70,204
1962 Ashes series, game 19 June 1962 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain31–12 Flag of Australia (converted).svg AustraliaSydney Cricket GroundSydney70,174
1958 Ashes series, game 114 June 1958 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia25–8 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great BritainSydney Cricket GroundSydney68,777


The top five attendances for domestic based rugby league matches are:

GameDateTeam 1ScoreTeam 2VenueCityCrowd
1999 NRL Grand Final 26 September 1999 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 20–18 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons Stadium Australia Sydney 107,999
1999 NRL season Round 16 March 1999 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 41–18 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Stadium AustraliaSydney104,583*
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels 20–10 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons
1954 Challenge Cup Final replay 5 May 1954 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 8–4 Faxcolours.svg Halifax Odsal Stadium Bradford 102,569**
1985 Challenge Cup Final 4 May 1985 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 28–24 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. Wembley Stadium London 99,801
1966 Challenge Cup Final 21 May 1966 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 21–2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan WarriorsWembley StadiumLondon98,536

* NRL double header played to open Round 1 of the 1999 NRL season. Figure shown is the total attendance which is officially counted for both games. [73] [74]
** The official attendance of the 1954 Challenge Cup Final replay was 102,569. Unofficial estimates put the attendance as high as 150,000, Bradford Police confirming 120,000.

See also

Related Research Articles

Rugby football Rugby union and rugby league team sports

Rugby football is a collective name for the family of team sports of rugby union and rugby league, as well as the earlier forms of football from which both games, as well as Australian rules football and gridiron football, evolved.

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a close-contact team sport that originated in Rugby, Warwickshire school, England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is played between two teams of 15 players each, using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field called a pitch. The field has H-shaped goalposts at both ends.

Rugby union positions Positions in rugby

In the game of rugby union, there are 15 players on each team, comprising eight forwards and seven backs. In addition, there may be up to eight replacement players "on the bench", numbered 16–23. Players are not restricted to a single position, although they generally specialise in just one or two that suit their skills and body types. Players that play multiple positions are called "utility players".

A rugby league team consists of thirteen players on the field, with 4 substitutes on the bench. Each of the thirteen players is assigned a position, normally with a standardised number, which reflects their role in attack and defence, although players can take up any position at any time.

Touch rugby Derivatives of rugby involving touching instead of tackling

Touch rugby refers to games derived from rugby football in which players do not tackle each other but instead touch their opponents using their hands on any part of the body, clothing, or the ball.

Rugby league gameplay

Like most forms of modern football, rugby league football is played outdoors on a rectangular grass field with goals at each end that are to be attacked and defended by two opposing teams. The rules of rugby league have changed significantly over the decades since rugby football split into the league and union codes. This article details the modern form of the game and how it is generally played today, however rules do vary slightly between specific competitions.

Five-eighth Half back position in rugby league

Five-eighth or Stand-off is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Wearing jersey number 6, this player is one of the two half backs in a team, partnering the scrum-half. Sometimes known as the pivot or second receiver, in a traditional attacking 'back-line' play, the five-eighth would receive the ball from the scrum half, who is the first receiver of the ball from the dummy-half or hooker following a tackle.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.

Comparison of rugby league and rugby union Comparison of two of the codes of the team sport rugby: rugby league and rugby union

The team sports rugby union and rugby league have shared origins and thus many similarities.

The experimental law variations (ELVs) were a proposed set of amendments to the laws of rugby union. They were proposed by the sport's governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), and trialled games at Stellenbosch University in 2006. In 2008 thirteen of the 23 variations trialled were played globally including; greater responsibility for assistant referees, corner posts no longer considered to touch in-goal, no gain in ground if the ball is moved into the 22-metre line by a player from the same team as the kicker, quick throw ins can travel backwards, no restrictions to players in the lineout, restrictions on where receivers and opposition hookers can stand in a lineout, pregripping and lifting allowed, mauls can be pulled down and players can enter with their head and shoulders lower than their hips, offside line is five metres away from the scrum for the backs and scrum half must be positioned close to the scrum, all offences apart from foul play and offsides are a free kick, and unplayable rucks and mauls are restarted with a free kick. In 2009 the IRB approved ten of the laws, rejecting the laws relating to mauls, numbers in a lineout and the increase in sanctions punishable by free kicks.

Rugby union gameplay

Rugby union is a contact sport that consists of two teams of fifteen players. The objective is to obtain more points than the opposition through scoring tries or kicking goals over eighty minutes of playing time. The play is started with one team drop-kicking the ball from the halfway line towards the opposition. The rugby ball can be moved up the field by either carrying it or kicking it. However, when passing the ball it can only be thrown laterally or backward. The opposition can stop players moving up the field by tackling them. Only players carrying the ball can be tackled and once a tackle is completed the opposition can compete for the ball. Play continues until a try is scored, the ball crosses the side line or dead-ball line, or an infringement occurs. After a team scores points, the non-scoring team restarts the game at the halfway with a drop kick toward the opposition. The team with the most points at the end wins the game.

Rugby union is a team sport played between two teams of fifteen players.

This list of rugby league terms is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of rugby league football. The sport has accrued a considerable amount of jargon to describe aspects of the game. Many terms originate from the Laws of the Game. A number of aspects of the game have more than one term that refers to them. Different terms have become popularly used to describe an aspect of the game in different places with notable differences between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Mini rugby, also known as New Image Rugby, is a form of rugby union designed to introduce the sport to children. It uses a smaller ball and pitch than standard rugby, and has eight to ten players a side.

A comparison of Canadian football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

In rugby league football, the Laws of the Game are the rules governing how the sport is played. The Laws are the responsibility of the Rugby League International Federation, and cover the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of the game.

Hooker (rugby league) Position in rugby league

Hooker is one of the positions in a rugby league football team. Usually wearing jersey or shirt number 9, the hooker is one of the team's forwards. During scrums the hooker plays in the front row, and the position's name comes from their role of 'hooking' or 'raking' the ball back with the foot. For this reason the hooker is sometimes referred to in Australia as the rake.

Comparison of association football and rugby union

Comparison of association football (football/soccer) and rugby union (rugby/rugger) is possible because of the games' similarities and shared origins.

The 1995 Rugby League World Cup final was the conclusive game of the 1995 Centenary World Cup tournament and was played between England and Australia on 28 October 1995 at the Wembley Stadium in London, England. Australia won the final by 16 points to 8 in front of 66,540 fans. Australia, the defending champions, won the Rugby League World Cup for the 8th time.


  1. "Rugby League Pitch Dimensions & Markings" . Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  2. American football and Canadian football are both broadly speaking evolutions from the rugby codes - the Canadian Football League in particular evolved specifically from the Canadian Rugby Union (not to be confused with Rugby Canada which governs Rugby union in Canada), and maintained rugby in its name as late as 1967 when the organisation changed its name, and the name of its sport, definitively. However, the forward pass rules in both sports now differentiate the gridiron games to such an extent as not to be considered 'rugby codes' except in a broader sense.
  3. 1 2 Tony Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain (2006), p.3
  4. Middleton, David (March 2008). League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia (PDF). National Museum of Australia. p. 27. ISBN   978-1-876944-64-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2011. When rugby league cast itself free of an arrogant rugby union 100 years ago, it did so with a sense of re-invention. It was not just about creating better conditions for the players but about striving to produce a better game; a less complicated brand that would appeal to the masses.
  5. 1 2 3 Dept. Recreation and Sport. "Dimensions for Rugby League". Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  6. "Rugby League, a uniting force in PNG". Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  7. 1 2 "PNG vow to upset World Cup odds". BBC Sport. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2009. But it would still be one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history if Papua New Guinea - the only country to have rugby league as its national sport - were to qualify for the last four.
  8. 1 2 "PNG seal 2010 Four Nations place". BBC. 1 November 2009.
  9. 1 2 "Rugby League World Cup 2013 will provide the sport with a true test of its popularity". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 September 2015
  10. "Rugby league: National Rugby League and Australian Rugby League" (PDF). Australian Human Rights Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  11. Rugby League World Cup 2017: How has the sport become so popular in Lebanon?, BBC, 2 November 2017
  12. PhD, Victoria Williams (28 April 2015). Weird Sports and Wacky Games around the World: From Buzkashi to Zorbing: From Buzkashi to Zorbing. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781610696401 via Google Books.
  13. Why Rugby League? Archived 20 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine at Crusaders Rugby League website
  14. Spracklen, Karl (2001). 'Black Pearl, Black Diamonds' Exploring racial identities in rugby league. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN   978-0-415-24629-3.
  15. Fagan, Sean (2008). League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia (PDF). National Museum of Australia. pp. vii. ISBN   978-1-876944-64-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2008.
  16. Groeneveld, Margaret (2007). Matters of the heart: The business of English rugby league. Berghahn Books. p. 27. ISBN   978-1-84545-054-0.
  17. Tony Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain (2006), p.6
  18. Tony Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain, p.5 (2006)
  19. Tony Collins, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain (2006), p.6, quote:"in 1906 the number of players in a team was reduced to thirteen and an orderly play-the-ball, whereby a tackled player had to get to his feet and roll the ball behind him with his foot, was introduced. These two changes completed the break from the playing rules of rugby union and marked the birth of rugby league as a distinct sport with its own unique rules".
  20. 1 2 Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". Independent, The . London: Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  21. Jupp, James (2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins. Cambridge University Press. pp. 342 & 343. ISBN   978-0-521-80789-0.
  22. Collins, Tony (18 April 2006). Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain (1 ed.). Routledge. pp.  113–114. ISBN   978-0-415-39615-8.
  23. "Rugby League Attendances 1957–2010". 2010. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009.
  24. "Season Summary". Rugby League Tables. Archived from the original on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  25. "Stats Insider: Grand Final by the numbers". Australia: NRL.COM and Telstra Corporation Pty Ltd. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  27. Telfer, Jim (5 May 2010). "It's Le Crunch for Magners League". STV. Archived from the original on 15 May 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  28. George Caplan; Mark Adams (2007). BTEC National: Sport. Heinemann. p. 99. ISBN   978-0-435-46514-8.
  29. Cleary, Mick (5 October 2000). "Talking Rugby: No code like the old code". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  30. Breivik, Simon L.; British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (2007). Sport And Exercise Physiology Testing Guidelines: The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Guide. Taylor & Francis. p. 257. ISBN   978-0-415-36141-5.
  31. Thomsen, Ian (10 January 1998). "Football Players Are Awfully Tough, but Enough for Rugby?". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  32. Peter Fitzsimons (19 May 2007). "What they said". Sydney Morning Herald.
  33. Spiro Zavos (6 September 2009). "Sonny could be something under a canny Kiwi coach". Sydney Morning Herald.
  34. "Scoring through the ages" . Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  35. Tony Collins (2006). Rugby's Great Split: Class, Culture and the Origins of Rugby League Football. UK: Taylor & Francis. pp. xii. ISBN   978-0-415-39616-5.
  36. Collins, Tony (2009). A Social History of English Rugby Union. UK: Taylor & Francis. p. 154. ISBN   978-0-415-47660-7.
  37. Growden, Greg (12 May 2011). "Hybrid rugby union-league experiment". Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  38. Jones, Chris (9 October 2000). "It's all a code merger mystery". Evening Standard . London: ESI Media. Archived from the original on 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  39. 'history of the sport' in 1996, theRFL, archived from the original on 22 September 2009
  40. 'rugby league playing guide' squad numbers, This is rugby, archived from the original on 31 July 2009
  41. "League rule changes for 2008". (League Unlimited). Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  42. "Rugby League Planet - Rugby League strategic roadmap aims to double worldwide TV audience by 2025 (Full Version)". Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  43. "Rugby League World Cup 2021 Competition Structure" . Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  44. "Home - Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation". Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation.
  45. Most Popular Sports in Australia. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  46. Rowe, David (15 August 2016). "Rugby League in Australia: The Super League Saga". Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 21 (2): 221–226. doi:10.1177/019372397021002008. S2CID   145452627.
  47. Matt Fletcher, Nancy Keller (2001). Tonga. Australia: Lonely Planet. p. 73. ISBN   978-1-74059-061-7.
  48. Stewart-Withers, Rochelle; Everill, Adam S. (2015). "Transforming Hegemonic Masculinities in Papua New Guinea: Rugby League as a Vehicle for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence and HIV/AIDS". The International Journal of Sport and Society. 4 (4): 57–69. doi:10.18848/2152-7857/cgp/v04i04/53987. ISSN   2152-7857.
  49. Ford, Greg (18 April 2012). "State of Origin bigger test for James Tamou". Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  50. "Apathy in old Dart like an arrow through our heart". Stock & Land. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2012.[ permanent dead link ]
  51. RLEF. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  52. Woods, Dave (14 December 2008). "Interest growing in Conference". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  53. "Rugby League Activity". Active Surrey. 14 December 2008. Archived from the original on 28 February 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  54. "Engage Super League Attracts Strong Viewing in 2008". Rugby Football League. 14 December 2008. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
  55. "Rugby union and rugby league compared ahead of Manchester showdown between England v Uruguay and Super League final". CityAM. 8 December 2017.
  56. "Super League average attendances for 2018 revealed - and it's not good reading!". 9 January 2019.
  57. MORI Sports Tracker - Interest in Sports Ipsos MORI Retrieved 2 March 2018
  58. 1 2 "What is the most popular sport in England?" . The Telegraph. 8 December 2017. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
  59. "Rugby League World Cup: The final hardly anyone seems to be talking about". BBC. 28 March 2018.
  60. 1 2 3 Schofield, Hugh (8 October 2002). "French rugby league fights for rights". (BBC News). Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  61. "Rugby League Planet – 1954 Rugby League World Cup". Archived from the original on 13 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  62. "Rugby League Planet – 1968 Rugby League World Cup". Archived from the original on 30 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  63. "Step Back in Time: Catalans (H)". ( Archived from the original on 30 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  64. "French join Super League". (BBC Sport). 26 May 2004. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  65. "Toronto Wolfpack: Meet the first transatlantic rugby league team". BBC. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  66. Neil Davidson (20 May 2019). "Ottawa gets green light for English rugby league franchise". CBC. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  67. "NARL confirmed c/o Love Rugby League". April 2021.
  68. "2022 for NARL Western Conference via Sporting News AU". Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  69. "USA Rugby League not ready to sanction NARL via Love Rugby League". 15 April 2021.
  70. RLEF Archived 14 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine . (29 July 2011). Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  71. "Meet the Yorkshireman determined to bring rugby league to Madrid".
  72. "The new nations of rugby league".[ permanent dead link ]
  73. Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "NRL 1999 - Round 1 - Rugby League Project". Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  74. Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "NRL 1999 - Round 1 - Rugby League Project".

Further reading