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Thread: Why...

  1. #1
    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Why...

    ...don't I like rugby union?

    As some may know, I love my league. I really do. It was my first love really - brought up on it from the moment I was born, and rejected my parents' encouragement to follow the Eels by becoming a Wests supporter at the tender age of 3. Since then I've found cricket as well, but league will always hold a big part in my sport-following life - I'm the leading poster on rleague.com forums, for example, and didn't miss a first grade game between 1997 (when games were first shown on Pay TV) and 2006 (missed a few this year though, shame on me).

    Theoretically, someone with such a love of rugby league should like rugby union as well. But I don't. And I'm not playing the code wars card here, or being a typical league follower slagging off union, because over the last few years, I've really tried. I figured that, if nothing else, taking a bigger interest in union would give me a great understanding of some aspects of league, and even possible tactics in it, as well as allowing me to see some of the fantastic rugby players that play union. I've tried at various times over the last three or four years, but I just can't get into it. It's pretty similar to league on a basic level, so I should be at least somewhat entertained by it, but I'm really not. The rucks and mauls seem like a complete snore-fest from a spectator POV (although I can see how they'd be fun to play in if you liked the dirty work as a forward) and they usually result in penalties for things I can't understand. The backline movements aren't bad, but someone usually just kicks the ball on the end of it before a game of tennis ensues.

    I obviously prefer league and I can see that, but I really don't understand why I don't like union at all, despite trying to do so and the games being fairly similar. One theory is that I don't truly like either form and that I simply follow league because I was brought up on it and hence understand the game and know the players - but I'd like to believe that isn't true.

    I really would like to like union by the way, so any explanations as to why I don't enjoy it, or tips on how to do so would be greatly appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    There are many things rotten in rugby union at the moment. Having just talked to the local referee education officer, the new law introduced for the scrums (“crouch, touch, pause, engage”) has suffered plenty of teething problems with resets and the like and is more likely to produce an injury than the old ones. Already, they’re apparently under review at the highest level. Bearing in mind recent stats show that there was only one spinal injury in scrums in NZ between 2001 and 2005, things weren’t broken, so why try and fix it?

    I’ll always prefer union over league simply because of the organic flow the game has, and it rewards possession rather than forcing the side to kick the ball away after five tackles, but the rucks in particular need to be looked at.

    Aside from the mess about what constitutues a ruck, this situation where players stand at the back of a ruck with the ball at their feet for up to 20-30 seconds is ridiculous. They can get away with it, and not get attacked, because the ball is technically still in the ruck when in front of a bound player’s feet, but it slows the game down to a snail’s pace, as they organise one-off runners. Meantime, the defence has time to sort itself as well so it’s essentially a stalemate.

    I’m not keen on some of the new laws being trialled at Stellenbosch (and now Sydney club rugby) where players are allowed to collapse a maul. This is downright dangerous and a complete contradiction to their current work to make scrums safer.

    Keep mauls in the game, because a rolling maul working its way 30 metres downfield is a thing of beauty - and this is coming from a back.

    Rucks, as I said earlier, are messy as anything - the proposed laws would allow hands in the ruck, but I’m not sure that’s the answer either. Players have become too reliant on referees telling them when the ruck is formed, which gives you some idea of how muddy the laws are.

    You’re not alone in not enjoying aspects of the game - I couldn’t get into the Super 14 this year (despite having free passes through work and having a nice air-conditioned media box to watch from), but it was just so much hard work to get through 80 minutes, although I think that was perhaps due to rugby overkill as well.

    This might all be looking through rose-tinted nostalgic glasses, but the rugby played in the mid-1990s was just about right, with teams attacking from depth and able to find gaps with more ease. Ironically, it’s the introduction of former league stars and coaches as defensive co-ordinators which has really clamped down on attacks and makes it harder to score tries.

  3. #3
    State Vice-Captain ohtani's jacket's Avatar
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    Rugby is a far uglier game than League and is full of stoppages, but the reward is in the things that are difficult to understand. Scrums, rucks, mauls and line outs are hard to follow, but they're crucial to possession. Every forward from 1 to 8 has specific roles to play, so I guess the longer you watch rugby the more you understand what the forwards are doing (and how well they're doing it.) Basically every facet of the game is important -- even the seemingly aimless clearance kicks.

    I don't mind League, but I think it's too easy to score. It doesn't have the intensity of Test match rugby, either. Not since State of Origin in the early 90s, IMO. I think my interest in League died with the Super League split, but I understand why people don't like rugby -- the passages of dead play, all of the rules and penalties, attacking moves that end in a shot at goal or peeter out some other way... The majority of most rugby games are error ridden affairs... Aside from the finer points of the game, I guess you need an investment in it somehow. It's not an easy sport to watch if you don't care about the outcome.

  4. #4
    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    It's 'cos you're a idiot, clearly.

    Nah, I think you weren't a million miles away from the kernel with your point about rucks & mauls. Obviously, to the outsider the rules governing union breakdowns can seem arcane & impenetrable. In fact, the interpretation of those laws is often as crucial as the laws themselves and there seems to be marked difference in interpretation between northern & southern hemisphere refs (admittedly it's becoming less so with the increase of trans-hemisphere tests, but it still exists) & with all the best loosies operating on the very edge of legality this can obviously lead to disputes. So with union fans sometimes not quite knowing what's going on I can see how this could be a turn-off for the casual observer. The expression that perhaps sums it up best is "Union is for players, league is for fans".

    I like both sports, but I'm more of a union man because that's the code I was weaned on. Basically unless you're from Lancashire, Yorkshire or Cumbria in England the chances are that you'll play the senior code. However, in my youth (mid-late 80s) the union club game was pretty grim stuff to watch & I naturally gravitated to the more free-flowing 13-man code. Players (oh, the delight!) actually ran with ball in hand! Since union went open tho the club game has improved beyond all measure & has certainly benefited from the conditioning, tactics & (it must be said) playing talent it's adopted from league.

    Ultimately the aspects of the sport a league fan sees a superior in his or her code a union fan will sniff at & vice versa. Contested possession (as I see it) gives union the edge, but equally I can see a league fan decrying a sport where petty infringements in rucks can decide the game in favour of a team with a crash-hot place-kicker.
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  5. #5
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Perm's Avatar
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    Even though I consider myself a rugby man, I'll choose to watch an ordinary game of league over rugby anyday. However, a good game of rugby beats a good game of league IMO. Considering that I'm a New Zealander and how much we are dominating Union, I guess it sounds a little weird to hear this. I'd be very happy to win the World Cup and then start getting beaten by teams like France and South Africa.
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    International Vice-Captain pinchy81's Avatar
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    good man Prince i hate Union too its League, Football (soccer), American Football and Cricket for me could never understand/watch union tbh
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    Hall of Fame Member age_master's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voltman View Post
    This might all be looking through rose-tinted nostalgic glasses, but the rugby played in the mid-1990s was just about right, with teams attacking from depth and able to find gaps with more ease. Ironically, itís the introduction of former league stars and coaches as defensive co-ordinators which has really clamped down on attacks and makes it harder to score tries.
    I would rugby to go back to the style from the min 90's. Fantastic stuff.

    One of the problems these days is that most teams want to stop the other team from scoring, rather then just worrying about scoring more points then the other team.

    Union will always be better then league though
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    Hall of Fame Member Johnners's Avatar
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    I sort of understand union, and generally enjoy watching test rugby, but i'm a league fan first and foremost. However the thing that annoys me most, and confuses me about union, is the amount of penalites in the ruck, which so often then lead to an enthralling penalty goal shootout.

    However from what i understand the fans are enjoying watching the Sydney rugby comp which is trialling some new rules. From what i understand they're trialling having the defensive line 5 metres back from the ruck, and making all infringements in the ruck "free kicks" instead of "penalties" meaning they cannot just take potshots for goal. To me, those 2 rules alone would make watching rugby far more enjoyable. (please correct me if that was a load of rubbish?)
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Matteh's Avatar
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    Union > League myself.

    As a spectactor sport AFL > Football for mine these days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matteh View Post
    As a spectactor sport AFL > Football for mine these days.
    Agreed. If I knew more of the players and their positions then it would be by far the better spectator sport IMO.

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    RTDAS pasag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matteh View Post
    As a spectactor sport AFL > Football for mine these days.
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    International Captain Cloete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matteh View Post
    Union > League myself.

    As a spectactor sport AFL > Football for mine these days.
    Sellout.
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    World Traveller Craig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloete View Post
    Sellout.
    Agreed.
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    Hall of Fame Member chaminda_00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloete View Post
    Sellout.
    Quote Originally Posted by Craig View Post
    Agreed.
    Agreed too, pathetic

    Union > League IMO

    But the standard of both in Australia is very poor due to so many players going to England and Europe.
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    Hall of Fame Member _Ed_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matteh View Post
    As a spectactor sport AFL > Football for mine these days.
    Absolutely.

    I love to watch any game of AFL, while the only things I can actually sit through in union and league are All Black games and Origin respectively.

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