Rugby Union was the first— Rugby union and rugby league are two distinct sports. Rugby league was founded in 1895 after a break from rugby union (then known as the Northern Rugby Football Union) over the issue of compensating players. The two games are quite different, with rugby league being a faster, more physical game.
They both share a common origin: they're both forms of football that evolved in England. But unlike modern-day rugby union, which is played exclusively by men, rugby league can be performed by male or female athletes. And while rugby union tests strength and speed using a ball that can be kicked, passed, tossed, or punted, rugby league uses a ball that can be carried or thrown downfield for immediate action.
The early forms of rugby were identical to soccer except that a player could not take a free kick while on his feet. This rule eventually was dropped but not before many cases of serious injury had occurred. In addition, there was no try scored for an indirect touchdown, instead each time the ball was grounded it was put into play at the spot where it fell. Thus, a player could be credited with a point even if he didn't touch the ball down himself.
The first written record of rugby comes from around 1823 when its rules were published by George Edward Smith.
Rugby was split into two sports in 1895, when twenty-one clubs split from the Rugby Football Union to form the Northern Rugby Football Union (later renamed the Rugby Football League in 1922) in the George Hotel, Huddersfield, over broken-time payments to players who took time off from work to play the sport, thus making the Rugby Football League the dominant sport. The other league, the Rugby Football Union, is now only of historical interest.
The breakaway clubs argued that the RFU was too focused on paying its top players and not enough on developing young talent. They decided that they could do a better job of promoting rugby by setting up their own professional league rather than waiting for the RFU to change its ways. This decision proved to be very successful, as within a few years both leagues were thriving and there was no going back.
Today's rugby players are still paid even though they are working with their teams during the game. This means that they do not have to take time off from work to play rugby, which is why the sport is called "professional football without the football".
The splitting of the game into two distinct forms also meant that the best players could move between the leagues, helping them become more popular and therefore earn more money from advertising and sponsorship deals. This is one reason why the NFL enjoys such popularity in America while the Premiership in England is still struggling to find an audience.
Rugby league football derives its name from the bodies that separated in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand between 1895 and 1908 to develop a new version of rugby independent from that administered by the Rugby Football Unions. These bodies created two forms of the game: rugby league for play in winter months when it is not possible to use hands on the ball (because there are no lights or electricity), and rugby union for summer games where this is possible. The term "rugby" came from the initials of the names of the two founders: Robert Leckie and Edward Charlton.
The first rugby match was played in 1823 between the students of Oxford and Cambridge universities. It is estimated that up to 1,000 players took part in this match. The sport soon spread across England, and by 1845 it had become widely popular among civilians too. In 1871, a form of the sport called rugby union was developed for use by the British Army during wars or when soldiers were stationed abroad where electric light was not available. This was the origin of today's versions of rugby football: rugby union and rugby league.
In 1895, two groups of English businessmen who were dissatisfied with the way rugby union was being managed by the main governing body, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), formed the Northern Rugby Football League (NRFL).
Rugby league was founded in 1895 as the "Northern Union," when clubs in the north of England split from the RFU. The teams intended to pay its working-class players for missed work due to rugby trips and injuries. These payments were called "scrums," and they are how we get the word "score." There was also a need for an alternative game after hours drinking caused problems for both workers and employers.
The first season consisted of only six games, with each team playing each other once. The champion was decided by winning most matches. If there was a tie breaker, then time would decide it. In 1897, a trophy called the "Challenge Cup" was created to give a national champion. It is still used today in some countries where rugby league is popular. In 1920, the Northern Union and Southern Rugby League united into one organization that is still existent today. That means there is now only one world rugby league championship, instead of two separate ones for northern and southern teams.
Scoring works like this: A try is scored when a player crosses the opposition's line while carrying the ball. A goal is worth three points, while a drop goal can be worth zero or five points depending on how close you are to time.
Originally, the code was simply known as "rugby football." It wasn't until a dispute over player pay in 1895, which led in the development of the independent code of rugby league, that the term "rugby union" was adopted to distinguish the original rugby code. The acronym "RL" is also used to denote the code.
Rugby league has its origins in England where it was first played in 1867. It was initially known as "rounders" because of the object used for throwing (now called a "ball"). This was later changed to "rugby," which is what we know today as rugby union.
Union came first and they had nothing to do with rugby league!
Rugby Union and Rugby League are both extremely popular sports practiced all over the world. Rugby Union is the oldest of the two codes, having originated in the United Kingdom with the formation of the RFU (Rugby Football Union) in 1871. It is now widely played throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia. In contrast, Rugby League was developed in Australia around the same time by a group of English teachers who were dissatisfied with the harsh rules of football being played back home. The original code included many features not found in modern rugby, such as a larger field (120 yards by 80 yards) and more free kicks (10 vs 7). Today, both codes are very similar, but have become increasingly popular in Japan and China where they are known as "Kangaroos and Rabbits" because of their similarity to their respective codes played in Australia and England.
There have been attempts to merge the two codes together, but none have been successful so far. The NRL (National Rugby League) is the premier professional rugby league tournament in Australia while the Super League is the top level of competition in Britain.
Rugby Union has more official leagues than Rugby League, with 9 countries including France, Argentina, Canada, and South Africa having their own domestic league systems. In addition, there are several international tournaments held annually including the World Cup which is the biggest event in Rugby Union calendar.