Today marks the 117th birthday of Rugby League. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Yes 117 years ago, in 1895 on the 29th of August 22 clubs in northern England broke away from the Rugby Football Union and formed the Northern Union. The issue was over broken time payments. Players in the north were mainly working class and worked in the factories and mines. Any injuries incurred often meant that they could not work, thus not be paid and the family suffered. Clubs, rich from the large crowds saw the value of at least paying players a match fee to compensate for this, broken time payments. This was seen as professionalism by the rich southern clubs which were essentially all run by the upper class. This came to a head in 1895 and eventually the situation became untenable.
Batley, Bradford, Brighouse Rangers, Broughton Rangers, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull FC, Hunslet, Leeds, Leigh, Liversedge, Manningham, Oldham, Rochdale, Runcorn, Stockport, St Helens, Tyldesley, Wakefield-Trinity, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan were all part that first meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield to break away.
Rugby Union authorities were quick to issue bans on any players that went to new rival code. Though initially playing under the same RFU rules, the new northern Union very quickly started to see that to maintain the crowds the sport would have to start to evolve, to be more exciting. Association Football (soccer) was becoming more and more popular and had been professional for some time already. Within three years the rules of the NU changed, mainly the play-the-ball introduced, the line-out was eliminated and a penalty given for a deliberate knock on. But the most dramatic change was the number of players. The flankers were dropped and thus a team was 13 rather than 15 a side.
Within 15 years the sport was to grow outside of England with Wales playing and then the New Zealanders coming over with the All Golds. This took the sport across the seas to Australia and within 20 years of that trip France was playing. As they say, from there the rest is history…
We now have over 40 nations that are playing the sport in some shape or form. The sport has had it ups and downs and turbulent times, and in some countries continues to do so. But that is the beauty of Rugby League no matter how much it trips over its own feet, others put it down and it shoots itself in the foot, its a sport that continues to grow and thrive, sticking its bloodied nose at the rest of the world saying, give me your best shot.
Happy Birthday Rugby League, may you continue to thrill us and generations to come. As we say in Poland “Sto lat, Sto Lat, niech zyje, Zyje nam!” A hundred years, a hundred years, may it live on for us, may it live on for us.
In October this year, the Melbourne Storm were meant to travel to the USA and play a demonstration match against the AMNRL USA Tomahawk team. This is the default national side that will be going to the 2013 World Cup and has been playing internationals.
According to We Are Rugby the Storm had a deadline to have things finalised, the AMNRL could not find sufficient funding in time to have the match finalised. Despite this the two teams will still negotiate for a match at some future stage possibly.
However do not despair, Rugby league is coming to Las Vegas on November 10th. The Remembrance Cup will be competed for once again, 10 years after the first. The Remembrance Cup was established to honour the Coogee Bay Dolphins players that were killed in the Bali Bombings in 2002. The Game was played between the then Glenn Mills Bulls, who became the Aston Bulls and this year renamed themselves the Philadelphia Bulls.
The Cup this year will be played as a tournament with the Dolphins, British Columbia, California, Utah and Las Vegas fielding teams in a 13 a-side 20 minute format. The games are being used to try and promote and expand the sport through the West and Midwest of the USA.
Next weekend, the 8th of September will see the Tomahawks take on the Canadian Wolverines. The Canadians have been blooded this year with two very good and tough tests against the Jamaicans and Lebanese. The USA itself has had a mixed bag with a won against the Irish Wolfhounds and a loss to the Tongans in Hawaii.
This match is the first of this year Colonial Cup tie. The return match will be at Varsity Stadium, Fairfield University in Connecticut. At the same time the Utah Avalanche will play the return game with the British Columbia team in Salt Lake City, Utah.
An interesting article has come across my path today, one which I think people would enjoy having a read of. Its a comparison between Rugby League Football and soccer, sorry Association Football,
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