Rugby League is played across much of the United Kingdom but is most popular in Northern England. It’s increasing popularity has influenced many areas, including but not limited to video games and slot games such as Rugby Star. The top rugby league competition in the UK is the Super League and this consists of the best 12 teams in the country. Most of the teams in the Super League are English and England is where rugby league became established in the early years.
The Northern Rugby Football Union
Rugby league can be traced back to the breakup of the Rugby Football Union in northern England that saw the emergence of the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. At the time, there was little difference in the rules of the game played by the different unions but that soon changed. The two competitions started to develop their own rules and two sports were born as a result, with rugby league being one of them. In 1908, the game played under the Northern Rugby Football Union was adopted by Australia and New Zealand.
The Differences in Rugby League
We talked above about differences that started to appear in rugby league that changed the way the game was played. By 1907, the major changes to the game that made rugby league the sport it is today had been adopted. The substantial changes were 13 players per team as opposed to 15 players used in rugby union and heeling the ball back after a tackle rather than forming a ruck. Line outs were removed, and the sport of rugby league was formed. The Northern Rugby Football Union changed its name to the Rugby Football League in 1922 as more teams started to join the league.
The British Amateur Rugby League Association was created in 1973 as those involved in rugby league became alarmed by a reduction in the number of teams and leagues. This saw a breakaway group form the Rugby Football League and up until 1992, the top division in rugby league in the UK was the Championship. However, when Maurice Lindsay became the Chief Executive of the RFL, he proposed the creation of the Super League. The top rugby league division in the UK became known as the Super League in 1996 and initially, rugby league continued to be played during the winter months, like rugby union.
Summer Rugby and Internationals
Another major change was still to come and in 2011, it was agreed to change the time of year the rugby league was officially played in the UK. Rugby league switched from being played in the winter to the summer, with the 2012 season played from March to November. In terms of international rugby in the UK, the home nations each play separately in the Rugby League World Cup but there is also a Great Britain national team that competes regularly against Australia and New Zealand. The first ever Great Britain test match took place in 1908 against New Zealand saw some of the world’s top players competing.