General Code differences

wizards rage

1st Grade Fringe
Apr 18, 2016
Interesting comparison between the codes

Interesting comments particularly this part about line ball forward passes, etc

“The benefit of the doubt convention is applied to the attack in rugby union but the reverse is the case in the NRL, resulting in fans educated to watch for every negative breach.”

I agree with this comment and this could be debated at length about the issue with consistency, the reffing structure and 3rd ref reviews, etc

Full article:

OPINION: Rugby union is the sport which invented a schoolboy, rather than the other way around.

Myths are so ingrained that the Webb Ellis Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup, is named after a schoolboy who may never have actually "picked up the ball and ran".

If William Webb Ellis, a student at Rugby School, really did do this, the story was only accorded some credibility 72 years later.

It was 1895, the year when rugby league broke away and the 15-a-side game was searching for something historical to re-assert control over a game it was losing.

But rugby union is now in control in every country of the world where both codes are played, except Australia. Even so, the NRL, particularly its referees and coaches, can learn from the Rugby World Cup, which has now reached the final stage in Japan.

Rugby union suffers from the criticism it is over-refereed. Yet if all the marginal flat passes seen in Japan were ruled forward, the total stoppages in some games would mean fans seeing little action.

If the referee blew his whistle for every minuscule fumble of the ball on the ground, there would be even less football played.

In the NRL, however, radar straight passes to a winger are pulled up and balls momentarily lost before being re-gathered result in scrums despite there being no disadvantage to the defence. Rugby union referees also apply the advantage rule sensibly.

The benefit of the doubt convention is applied to the attack in rugby union but the reverse is the case in the NRL, resulting in fans educated to watch for every negative breach.

If rugby union referees blew the whistle on every dubious pass, teams would revert to one-out, boring rugby, yet the myth endures that its rules can only be comprehended by a battery of Franciscan monks.

Rugby league, as refereed in Australia, is rapidly becoming a game where the sinful, even in attack, are forever punished.

NRL coaches can learn from England's Eddie Jones, who has three game plans in this World Cup; our NRL guys tend to have only one, although the Roosters can vary the attack.

Against Australia, Eddie basically said: "Let them have the ball and we'll suffocate them with our defence. Their attack is rudderless and they'll stuff up and throw intercept passes. Even if we only get 30 per cent possession, we'll get the ball back to win easily."

He needed a different game plan against semi-final opponents, the All Blacks, who would use any extra possession to probe for weaknesses, including tactical kicking to break up the defence.

So Eddie used a width of the field attack, with precision passing on the gain line as it is called in rugby union, with options at the back.

At times, it seemed as if there were a couple of triangles of attack, with a ball carrier, a flat support and a deeper runner. It's high risk but England got away with it, principally because their defence sapped the will of New Zealanders.

Rugby has plenty of stoppages, but it could be a whole lot worse if they were as pedantic as NRL officials.

Jones can also employ a third game plan: hit it up the middle. It's boring but in World Cups, tedious wins are preferable to exciting losses aren't they? Had Wales beaten South Africa in the other semifinal, he may have used it, given England's big and skilful forwards.

Eddie is also willing to choose players on a "horses for different courses" basis, a rarity in the NRL.

He dropped No 10, George Ford, to the bench for the game against Australia, preferring George's best mate, Owen Farrell.

(Both their fathers were rugby league internationals, with Mike Ford playing a season for the defunct South Queensland Crushers).

For the All Blacks match, Ford played No 10 and Farrell No 12. The only variation with personnel we see in the NRL is off the bench.

The RWC also showcased a Japanese team with stellar skills of receiving and passing under pressure. It must be the result of hours spent on the training paddock. It's unlikely Australian schoolboys could be similarly encouraged but their predecessors on tours to England over 40 years ago were doing something similar.

Yet, rugby union can learn much from rugby league, particularly the time wasted via the defence gaining a rest, re-packed scrums and shots at over-valued penalty goals.

The mandatory big man seeking treatment before a scrum is set is lauded as gamesmanship.

World Rugby's rule makers won't do anything, of course. Myths endure because inertia is the sport's defining property and nostalgia its oxygen.
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Hardyman's Yugo

1st Grade Fringe
Jun 2, 2017
Lancashire, England
Despite attending an RU playing Grammar School I was brought up a league fan with no little help from my grandad who had been an RL referee and was an RL nut. The big differences as a game for me are

1 the fact that in union it’s a major problem to get caught in possession, the reverse is true in RL until the sixth tackle. This means more kicking from the hand in union, sometimes to the point of tedium

2 The breakdown as it’s now known in union is lawless, sixteen blokes together makes it nigh on impossible for the spectator to understand why penalties are given (ball on hand on the deck, offside, wrong side, ‘truck and trailer’ etc.....)

3 Far more set pieces in union, it’s a major part of the game. These take huge chunks of time when they should really just be opportunities to restart the game.

4 Too many players on the pitch in union, it’s an easier game to spoil

RL has its faults but it’s the better game imho. A poor game of league still sees more time in play, excitement and skill (aside from tactical kicking and close quarter forward arm wrestling that is) than your normal union game.

Union has power, influence, wealthy sponsors, a helpful media (apart from Aus) and 100 years of prejudice applied to league.

I’ll watch union, but I don’t often enjoy it and certainly not as much as I did in the 70’s. Thanks to my grandad I am glad I am a league fan.

Apologies for the hatchet job on another sport, couldn’t resist.

Oh and the bunker conversations in union are hilarious, sounds like Benny Hill and one of his stooges.


Warriors 1st Grader
Jul 12, 2013
There are things both codes can take from the other. I'm not a fan of how the league media, commentators all seem to want to attack the sport. Everything is so negative like they don't like the sport. The Sydney media it helps sell newspapers and generate news coverage. The commentators all see to want to criticise everything. It would be good to talk about the actual game for a change.

Union has some good things with their officiating. Their use of video technology can also cause frustrations as they can go back further than is allowed in league. Then it comes down to do you want the correct decision or less disruptions. The joke there though is the NRL only look at the scoring play and still get it wrong.

The officiating parts of the article. League gives the benefit of the doubt to the attack around the put down but the actual play before that is susceptible to a player diving to get the play reviewed.
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1st Grade Fringe
Apr 19, 2018
When you can lose upwards of 3-4 minutes of game time for a single scrum due to resets I can understand why they might not want to be pedantic about things that would cause more scrums.

NRL referees struggle because...

1) The NRL has them constantly chasing their tails with random rule changes and crackdowns.

2) Union has more refs to choose from and therefore higher quality. I'm sure if we were comparing refs in local country competitions the waters would get a little murkier.

Overall it's a pretty poor article. Union being in control has almost nothing to do with refereeing, the negativity from fans is not because of forward passes/knock ons getting called or not being called, and his examples of Eddie Jones using variety is about as clutchy as a hand can get when presented with straw.

And then the article starts and ends with something about myths that have no real relation to the bulk of the article.

3/10, would not read again.

wizards rage

1st Grade Fringe
Apr 18, 2016
I'm not sure what the guy is on about, flat/marginally forward passes are let go all the time in league as well. There was the dud call on RTS earlier this year but that's not the norm.
It’s also checking multiple times for seperation; ball being forced; small juggles playing the ball, dropped balls backwards half the time called forward, etc.

I agree the calls go against the attack and I agree because of that I’m finding myself looking for rule breaches, which results in a lot of my negativity towards the refs.

Would the game benefit from just ‘playing on’ more if it’s a marginal call?


Warriors 1st Grader
Sep 1, 2015
Lets us get real ladies and that doyen of rah rah scribes Peter Fitzsimons often says the only thing the RFU has ever done is cause rugby league.

That was done because of racial motives. The snobs from the south didn't like mixing it with big northern coal miners. End of story.

They have spent over a century not being like rugby league, because that just wouldn't do old chum, would it.

Enough to make one sick, and our CEO wants to suck dick with a curtain raiser no less...heyzeuss spare me. I vote for George to be


1st Grade Fringe
Sep 12, 2017
As a supporter of both league and rugby (I have a preference for league) I think the elite rugby union refs are much better than their rugby league counterparts.
I think the union refs are more neutral and are not influenced so much by the media, supporters etc. Most of them are better at interacting with the players on the field also with the way that they explain their decisions and are also not easily influenced by certain players.

In terms of the flow of the game there are far too many stoppages in league now. Nearly all tries nowadays get referred upstairs (where they often make the wrong decision anyway). The officials seem to look for a reason not to award a try. And there is so much inconsistency there. Consistency of decision making is a huge problem.

The thing is that league has the better product. But the issues with the refereeing, judiciary, salary cap, bunker etc are ruining the product. At least this year anyway.

Agree with Bruce about the Warriors/Blues double header. I think that the concept behind it is good but the fact that the Warriors are the curtain raiser makes us seem to be the inferior team/code compared to the Blues.


Warriors 1st Grader
Jul 12, 2013
Interesting article.

I remember in 98 when the All Blacks were losing one of the key sponsors asked Graham Lowe to get his stats team to draw up the stats of the side. The tackling and ball running was pretty low so they asked Lowe if he could redo it he said he already had. It does go to show the amount of time the rucks, scrums and line outs can take up. The scrum collapses are what use to turn me off and they use to also take longer for line outs.

The amount of running in league is also underestimated. They had an article in the Sydney Morning Herald years ago outlining the amount of running between Aussie Rules, Fooball and League. They didn't get stats from Union as it was unfair as it didn't take into account the stoppages. Since then I have seen some stats on Union sides and how much kilometres they cover during a game. You still get some funny comments in articles on Stuff etc where someone thinks league is more stop start due to the 6 tackles even though even with the wrestle the tackle and play the ball is still quicker than the majority of rucks, or you need to be fitter as you run back and forth chasing kicks in union.

Although it is the only comparison we have we also need to remember it is a sample from a specific season. The time in play may have come up in Union and gone down in League as I've seen 30-35 minutes for union and 55 minutes for league. Also how were both games played 10 years ago? As there was a period around 2007-2009 where the union guys were unhappy that kicking was tacking over again and some of the rules need to be adjusted.
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Raw Power

1st Grade Fringe
Aug 30, 2016
Thats all we need in the NRL is the refs turning a blind eye to some decisions while having even more one eyed calls to the NRL's darling teams... the Rorters and the Storm and the likes whilst hammering the lest favoured...of which... is you know who!
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1st Grade Fringe
Sep 12, 2017
Just compare that with the stats from rugby union. Most of the match is standing around scrums. Try timing it.

Yep I get that. But the stoppages I am referring to are not in play stoppages like scrums and lineouts. I am talking about video ref stoppages.
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Heritage Member
Apr 23, 2012
I saw some photos of the ABs post match unofficial function after their 3rd place win vs Wales. It was good to see them letting their hair down. Dane Coles was wearing an old school ARL DB Bitter Warriors jersey.
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