Rugby League came into being when 21 representatives of northern Rugby Union clubs met at the George Hotel in the town of Huddersfield on the 29th August 1895. Twenty agreed to form the Northern Rugby Football Union.
The breakaway came about because of the refusal of the Rugby Football Union to agree to compensate players for loss of wages while playing the game. In 1922 the Northern Union was re-named Rugby League after the game found a foothold in Australia and New Zealand.
One hundred years later the International Rugby Football Board declared Union open, ushering in the professional Union game.
In the UK League is predominantly played in the North of England, although amateur teams play around the country.
The main differences are that it is a 13-man game as opposed to 15 in union and that scrums are largely uncontested, lineouts do not exist and there is a six-tackle rule, after which possession is turned over.
Newcomers will want to consider protective equipment such as shoulder pads, mouthguards, and scrum caps. For very young players there are non-contact versions of the game which can be an exciting introduction to the sport.
The rules on turnover of possession make kicking a vital skill, and players must practice this – either long kicks to gain ground or grubber kicks to release players in attack and attempt to force defenders into mistakes.
Given the role of the kicking game, catching the ball either in defense or attack is a key attribute. You can play for real money. Two players can practice together, either with lofted kicks or grubbers. Given the pace of the game, being able to deliver and receive both long and short passes is also essential. Using wrists to spin out a pass will add yards to the delivery.
Physical conditioning is crucial in this kind of contact sport, and using rugby drills such as those found at sites like Sportplan will help to improve physique and stamina.
Tackling skills are a key part of the game, and players are less likely to suffer injuries if they fully commit to the tackle. To take down an opponent, it is best to aim for the waist or legs, and tackle bags are often used during training to hone this key skill.
Different positions require different skills, meaning Rugby League is a game for all.