Major differences between Rugby Union and Rugby League

July 07 2021


These two codes of the rugby game differ in quite a few areas in regards to the rules of the game but that’s just about it.

Rugby union was first played in the early 19th century in England and rugby league was founded and first played in 1985 as a result of a split from the original Rugby Football Union which was caused by an issue of failure to pay the players.

As a result after the split from the union, some of the significant rules of the game were changed as explained below.

The codes’ difference is explained in-depth below:

Scoring points

For rugby union, a try is 5 score points and for the league, a try is 4 score points.

A penalty goal is worth only one point in rugby league while in rugby union, it's worth 3 points.

A drop goal is worth 3 points in rugby union while in rugby league it's 1 point.

Team Players 

While in rugby union there are 15 players on the field with u to 7or 8 substitutes, Rugby league has a total of up to 13 players with also 8 substitutes on the bench.

Ball possession on pitch

The oval rugby ball possession during the match is a very vital aspect in differentiating the two codes of rugby.

While in rugby union, the ball can be in possession of the attacking team for as long as they let it be, for rugby league the ball can remain in possession by the attacking team if they are not tackled over more than 6 times by the defending team and after the 6 tackles, the ball is handed over to the defending team.

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