Union v League v Sevens?

Dave Davies

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Hey, y'all - odd question for you regarding coverage of the different codes...

When I, as an American think of rugby, I think Rugby Union. It took me like 10 months to realize there was something else called League, and that it was very different. I also eventually became aware of Sevens, I think through random ESPN coverage.

Thing is, I can't even find providers for League over here. Finding Union leagues was hard (and expensive) enough, but League doesn't even seem available. That's fine (I love Union and don't really care to watch anything else), but confusing, because it seems like League has all the money?

Sonny Bill comes up and signs a supposedly record contract for a League team I'd literally never heard of. How can these teams afford these big name, high-priced stars when their sport seems like a niche within a niche?

Also, if you listen to podcasts about Rugby Union in general, they will often list scores and give at least a bit of analysis for Sevens tournaments that are happening, but never ever a mention of League games or results. Why in Rugby Union friendly with Sevens, but seemingly anti-League? I imagine it's a hangover from that original rift over professionalism? At this stage, wouldn't it be better for everyone to play nice?

Just curious, thanks as always!
 

TRF_Olyy

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Sevens is kind of an offshoot from Union - like 5-a-side football and 11-a-side football. You get players going in each direction. Both are run by World Rugby (used to be called the IRB).

Rugby league is it's own thing entirely with it's own governing body (the RFL). You do get some crossover in terms of players but it's players completely changing sport rather than just switching between variations of the same one.


Also, WRT league sides spending money, it's all due to wealthy benefactors/sponsors - Toronto are owned(?)/propped up by an Aussie billionaire who is also a big RL fan so is treating them like his personal play thing.
 

Which Tyler

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Worth pointing out that 7s made it's Olympic debut in Rio, where it was a real hit (earning Fiji their first ever Olympic gold - and one of the great medal ceremony moments); and will be in Tokyo as well.
 

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As Olly said sevens is an offshoot, all the same rules(give or take) but less players on the same size pitch so its faster and played alot different and shorter games but alot of prem players play prem 7s in the summer aswell as it is used getting a look at some younger players.

So they are very linked where as league is completly different, no rucks, lineouts, essentially uncontested scrums. Different scoring, max 6 phases(6 i think?). Tackling is alot different too. As said totally different governing body.


I have had the league vs union argument so many times and you will never convince a league fan to like union better or vice versa. All the things i like about union is what a league fan hates about it.

Union is much better IMO but i do like league.
 

The Alpha Bro

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Am I mistaken or did I read an article about league not being recognised as a sport?

I think I could get into league passively if it was a thing in Ireland but apart from a few lads on my university side who played it to stay fit in summer I've never heard it mentioned in conversation.
 

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I played league through uni - I think it's far better to play than it is to watch (haven't watched it at pro level in years, think it's dull as dishwater), especially at the lower levels. Social-level rugby union can be dire, as a back, to play.


I think, given a proper push (which won't ever happen cause there's no money in the sport), League could do quite well in America. Following the phases is easier to follow for Gridiron fans than trying to decipher rucks and scrums, and I think lads brought up playing American football would transition across to League better than they do union (much like how they tend to do better at 7s than XVs). We had a few American football players on our league side at uni and they were quality crash ball players
 

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Am I mistaken or did I read an article about league not being recognised as a sport?

I think I could get into league passively if it was a thing in Ireland but apart from a few lads on my university side who played it to stay fit in summer I've never heard it mentioned in conversation.
Genuinely think most Irish people don't have a clue that league even exists.
 

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Hey, y'all - odd question for you regarding coverage of the different codes...

When I, as an American think of rugby, I think Rugby Union. It took me like 10 months to realize there was something else called League, and that it was very different. I also eventually became aware of Sevens, I think through random ESPN coverage.

Thing is, I can't even find providers for League over here. Finding Union leagues was hard (and expensive) enough, but League doesn't even seem available. That's fine (I love Union and don't really care to watch anything else), but confusing, because it seems like League has all the money?

Sonny Bill comes up and signs a supposedly record contract for a League team I'd literally never heard of. How can these teams afford these big name, high-priced stars when their sport seems like a niche within a niche?

Also, if you listen to podcasts about Rugby Union in general, they will often list scores and give at least a bit of analysis for Sevens tournaments that are happening, but never ever a mention of League games or results. Why in Rugby Union friendly with Sevens, but seemingly anti-League? I imagine it's a hangover from that original rift over professionalism? At this stage, wouldn't it be better for everyone to play nice?

Just curious, thanks as always!
Hi Dave, as a fellow American I agree, it's Rugby Union over here. 7s is a variant of Union, and I enjoy it equally to 15s. And the USA National squad is MUCH better at 7s than they are at 15s. League exists here, but it's not very popular. I watched a replay of a League match on YouTube, but didn't like it near as much as Union. I'm not knocking League, to each his own. And ESPN+ is my main source of Rugby here in the States. They stream PRO14, SupeRugby and Major League Rugby matches as well as HSBC 7s series and college rugby. NBC Sports Gold has Premiership and some International matches, but they charge a lot more for their streaming package.
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Rugby sevens (commonly known as simply sevens), and originally known as seven-a-side rugby, is a variant of rugby union in which teams are made up of seven players playing seven minute halves, instead of the usual 15 players playing 40 minute halves. Rugby sevens - Wikipedia
 
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Sevens is kind of an offshoot from Union - like 5-a-side football and 11-a-side football. You get players going in each direction. Both are run by World Rugby (used to be called the IRB).

Rugby league is it's own thing entirely with it's own governing body (the RFL). You do get some crossover in terms of players but it's players completely changing sport rather than just switching between variations of the same one.


Also, WRT league sides spending money, it's all due to wealthy benefactors/sponsors - Toronto are owned(?)/propped up by an Aussie billionaire who is also a big RL fan so is treating them like his personal play thing.
League has way more funding than Union in Aus - no billionaires involved (i dont think Russell Crowe is that rich?)

I think League in Aus may even be better funded than English Union?
 

TRF_Olyy

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League has way more funding than Union in Aus - no billionaires involved (i dont think Russell Crowe is that rich?)

I think League in Aus may even be better funded than English Union?
Fair play - I know very little about the NRL other than it's wildly more popular than union in aus (and Super League is here).
I know a lot of Super League sides struggle massively for money, even the most popular sides
 

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Rugby League is nearly unknown in South Africa. We have a national team called the Rhinos, but it's mostly consisting of guys from university who study sport science and wants to learn about other sports not relatively known or played in SA. It's amateur in SA, with a few clubs in Cape Town, Potchefstroom, Joburg and Pretoria playing against each other.

There is absolutely no coverage whatsoever about rugby league in South Africa, while the 7's and Rugby union basically has a dedicated channel showing it everyday.

To be honest, Rugby League doesn't interest me whatsoever either. It's basically touch rugby but you can tackle, without arms and high.
 

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League has it's moments, but generally it consists of crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> kick. If the attacking side is close enough to the oppo try line on the 5th they sometimes play a bit which can be exciting to watch, but on the whole, despite it's faster pace there's generally less excitement that union imo.

The lack of set piece means there's less variety in player sizes/shapes, with the entire pack consisting of backrow style union players, physical and dynamic, excellent in defence. This results in less mismatches for players to exploit.

Mistakes are also costly, especially if you're in your own half. Due to the defence having to retreat 10m from the tackle, it's easy for attacking sides to gobble up all 10m by running crash ball lines. 6x10m = 60m, so a mistake in your own half or even part way into the opposition half automatically means you're going to be defending at least one tackle on your own try line. This means there's very little offloading out of the tackle which translates to lots of double tackles. It also means that there's very little counter attacking as it's too risky most of the time. The speed at which ball is playable from a tackle is also very consistent, with the tackled player allowed to be held down for a second or so allowing the defense to re-set. Obviously in union the speed of rucks differ massively for loads of reasons, but if a side can generate super quick ball, the defence simply doesn't have time to set, and gaps can appear, or mismatches generated.

Overall I think league is more consistent a product. Union can vary from the downright ugly (full of mistakes, reset scrums and very little ball in play), to all out attack. Most league games will be fast paced, with a reasonable amount of inventiveness shown on the 5th tackle plays in the oppo 22. I think this is what both supporters struggle with. League fans really struggle when the game is slow and stop-start, union fans struggle with the slightly monotonous nature of watching league.

Personally the average league game is probably better than the really poor union game, but any half decent game of union far surpasses 95% of league games imo. Obviously there are some gems in both codes.
 

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Hey, y'all - odd question for you regarding coverage of the different codes...

When I, as an American think of rugby, I think Rugby Union. It took me like 10 months to realize there was something else called League, and that it was very different. I also eventually became aware of Sevens, I think through random ESPN coverage.

Thing is, I can't even find providers for League over here. Finding Union leagues was hard (and expensive) enough, but League doesn't even seem available. That's fine (I love Union and don't really care to watch anything else), but confusing, because it seems like League has all the money?
I assume you're being serious. It all started in 1895. I'd recommend you read and listen to some Prof. Tony Collins. Southern flippin In-glish ppl have a lot to answer for. I've been watching RU since 1982 and RL since 1984. Also i don't like ppl calling the sport, league, I usually write RL. Feel free to ask me any question, i'm a believer that there's no such thing as a stupid question, obviously as long as it's sincere. God loves gay people.
 

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I’m union born and bred, but each time I watch league I wonder why I don’t watch more of it.

Shame that league’s never caught on internationally. I’d change the scrums, but there’s a lot to be said for the six tackle rule forcing a team to do something positive with the ball.

Couldn’t give a toss about sevens. Bores me rigid.
 

themole25

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league in america is just for guys who don't want to play sevens over the summer but want to keep playing rugby. Also some ex football guys who want something more than flag football but union is too complicated for them.

It's on FoxSoccer+ is you want to watch it.
 

Derpus

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League has it's moments, but generally it consists of crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> crash ball -> kick. If the attacking side is close enough to the oppo try line on the 5th they sometimes play a bit which can be exciting to watch, but on the whole, despite it's faster pace there's generally less excitement that union imo.

The lack of set piece means there's less variety in player sizes/shapes, with the entire pack consisting of backrow style union players, physical and dynamic, excellent in defence. This results in less mismatches for players to exploit.

Mistakes are also costly, especially if you're in your own half. Due to the defence having to retreat 10m from the tackle, it's easy for attacking sides to gobble up all 10m by running crash ball lines. 6x10m = 60m, so a mistake in your own half or even part way into the opposition half automatically means you're going to be defending at least one tackle on your own try line. This means there's very little offloading out of the tackle which translates to lots of double tackles. It also means that there's very little counter attacking as it's too risky most of the time. The speed at which ball is playable from a tackle is also very consistent, with the tackled player allowed to be held down for a second or so allowing the defense to re-set. Obviously in union the speed of rucks differ massively for loads of reasons, but if a side can generate super quick ball, the defence simply doesn't have time to set, and gaps can appear, or mismatches generated.

Overall I think league is more consistent a product. Union can vary from the downright ugly (full of mistakes, reset scrums and very little ball in play), to all out attack. Most league games will be fast paced, with a reasonable amount of inventiveness shown on the 5th tackle plays in the oppo 22. I think this is what both supporters struggle with. League fans really struggle when the game is slow and stop-start, union fans struggle with the slightly monotonous nature of watching league.

Personally the average league game is probably better than the really poor union game, but any half decent game of union far surpasses 95% of league games imo. Obviously there are some gems in both codes.
I think one thing you miss is the sheer physicality of league. Im always jarred by how rough it is. They tackle hard and high nearly every hit.

I think this is part of what people enjoy about league. SBW first became big in League (before anything else) because he was known for putting on huge shoulder charges at the doggies.
 
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