Rugby League is a full contact sport played by two teams of 13 players. It’s essentially the sport of Rugby Football; however after the split in 1895, they are considered as two different sports. The Super League and the National Rugby League (NRL) are the premier club competitions. Rugby league is played internationally, predominantly by European, Australian and Pacific Island countries, and is governed by the Rugby League International Federation. The first Rugby League World Cup was held in France in 1954; the current holders are Australia.

Rugby League Intro
Welcome to Rugby League

Creation & Etymology

As we mentioned above, Rugby Football turned into two different sports in 1895. The first faction broke off from England’s Rugby Football Union. They called themselves the Northern Rugby Football Union. For a while they played under the same rules. However, the Union League started modifying the rules. This led to the creation of a new faster, stronger paced form of rugby football. With time, organizations in other countries separated as well and started playing under these new rules. In 1922 the Northern Union changed it’s name to the Rugby Football League.

This was the first rugby sport to turn professional. The Rugby Union didn’t reach it’s professional roots until a 100 years later.


The objective in Rugby League is to score more points than your opponents. This can be done through tries, goals (conversions), and field goals. One match lasts for 80 minutes, divided into two halves of 40 minutes. If the match finishes with an equal score, it’s settled depending on the competition. In some, a draw is called while in others, extra time is played. The extra time is played under the golden goal rule. That means, the team that scores first wins the match.

The most common form of scoring is the try. Players try to run and kick the ball forward or run with it. The idea is to go through the opponents defense and run with the ball through their goal line. The try is worth 4 points. A goal is scored from a conversion or a penalty. The goal is worth 2 points. You get just 1 point from a field goal. It’s gained by dropping and then kicking the ball on the half volley between the uprights in open play.

Rugby League vs Rugby Union

All in all, it’s clear that both codes are pretty much the same sport. However, the world classifies them as different entities and we will do the same. The main rules are all the same. The match length, the way you score, and the ball that’s used. Additionally, the passing is the same and both use a scrum. However, the scrum is much less important in a Rugby League match. Also, league play uses fewer players, 13 to the Rugby Union’s 15 players.

Nevertheless the main difference between the two is how possession is handled. When the ball goes into touch, possession in rugby union is contested through a line-out, while in rugby league a scrum restarts play. This means that in league play, the focus on contesting possession is much lower. In turn, this means that play stops less often. All of that leads to more play time in league play. Statistically, about 50 out of the 80 minutes in league play are actually spent on playing. Compared to that, union play has only about 35 minutes of active play.

Last but not least, we have to mention that the two sports have different rules for tackling. Rugby league also has a smaller pitch. All in all, the rugby union has more rules and they are more detailed. However, that makes league play much simpler and therefore more popular.

Rugby League Organisations & Tournaments

Rugby League is played in more than 70 nations in the world. Seven of those countries (Australia, Canada, England, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Wales) have clubs that play on a professional level. The teams in the other nations are completely amateur. 36 national teams are ranked by the RLIF and a further 32 are officially recognized and unranked. You can learn more about the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) on their official website.

When it comes to tournaments, the World Cup is the biggest and most important one. It features 14 teams: Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Fiji, Wales, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Ireland, USA, Scotland, Italy, Tonga, Cook Islands, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa. Additionally, there are organisations that are part of RLIF and they organize tournaments based in their continents.

World Cup
Rugby League World Cup

For instance, the Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation controls the matches in Oceania and South Africa. On the other hand, the Rugby League European Federation organizes tournaments in Europe and in the northern part of the world. All of these cover, several very big competitions which is perfect for sports betting. Keep in mind that you can always place bets with bitcoins and other crypto-currency as well.

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