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Rugby League: Your Ticket to Big Hits, Scores and Excitement

Updated on December 23, 2011

Rugby league is an explosive excitement action ball of a sport that could put together a highlights reel that would challenge every other sport in the entire universe. Although often defined by its comparisons to rugby union, rugby league offers so many points of difference that make it the preferred sport to millions of fans. In competitions like the NRL and the Super League and on the world stage in international test matches, some of the most powerful and skilled athletes in the world face off to smash each other, score tries and dazzle the audience. This hub will give some insight into the sport of rugby league and why it should be programmed into the TV recorder for exhilarating viewing time after time.

Rugby League Highlights

The Rugby League Field

The Rugby League Scrum and Forward Positions

What is Rugby League?

Played on a 100m by 70m field with an oval shaped ball, rugby league is based on the premise that the ball can only go forward if it is carried or kicked. Each team gets six opportunities to carry the ball and get tackled before it is turned over to the other team. A try is scored when it is touched down over the try line; this is worth four points as well as an opportunity to kick a conversion through the goal post, which is worth two points. Teams also earn one point for kicking a drop goal. At any time, but most likely on the last tackle, the ball can be kicked in either an attempt to regather and score or just to ensure the other team have to further to carry the ball back.

After each tackle the tackler must release the tackled player and allow him to stand and ‘play the ball’ by rolling it behind him with his foot to his teammate behind him. His teammate runs the ball up, kicks it or passes it to another teammate. It’s important that the ball goes backwards when it is passed, otherwise a scrum will be awarded to the other team, same as if the ball is dropped or knocked forward. A scrum is where the forwards of each team form a structured huddle and push against the other huddle while the halfback rolls the ball in and collects it at the back of the scrum and play commences.

When the ball goes over the sideline the team who didn’t put it out gets to restart play at the point the ball crossed the sideline. However, if a team is awarded a penalty they may choose to kick the ball downfield and over the sideline, in this case the team awarded the penalty get to restart play. Alternatively, if they are close enough, they could choose to kick a penalty through the post. This nets three points for their team.

A game of rugby league is played over two halves of 40 minutes. Each team has thirteen players on the field at a time and four on the reserves bench. Twelve interchanges are allowed throughout the game, allowing for fresh legs to bring impact from the bench.

Rugby Union vs Rugby League

To the casual observer, rugby union and rugby league look to be same sport. Both are played with the same oval ball on the same size field between the same types of goal post. Even most of the position names are the same. However, in many ways the two sports are worlds apart. Rugby league is the far simpler of the two but it also provides the more spectacular tries and hits. Both sports have scrums, although the rugby scrum is heavily contested and the league scrum is not. There is no lineout in rugby league, and there are two less players.

Rugby fans sometimes criticise league for being too simple and too repetitive. Witness the last attacking play of a set of six and you’ll see plenty of strategy and intricate attacking moves.

For more information on the differences between rugby league, check out Rugby Union versus Rugby League: The Technical Issues and Rugby Union versus Rugby League: The Cultural Divide.

Rugby Union vs Rugby League Poll

Which do you prefer?

See results

Rugby League Big Hits

What Makes Rugby League So Awesome?

In rugby league, particularly in the NRL competition, you’ll see acts of amazing athleticism, huge hits and scintillating tackle-breaking runs. Unlike other sports where these happen once or twice in a game, in rugby league this can happen in every set of six. Even the most unimaginative attacking move, the kick to the wingers, can show the most daring and athletic scoring plays from players like Greg Inglis or Israel Falou. American viewers will love the statistic orientation of rugby league, where all the hits, metres run and try assists are counted and displayed throughout the game.  Also, let’s not forget one of the most significant endorsements of rugby league, Russell Crowe owns a team.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Whatever anyone says about rugby league - the highlights packages of big hits and big scores that get put together are consistently awesome!


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