How Did The Game Of Rugby Split Into Two Codes?


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Richard Marsden Profile
Richard Marsden answered
In the 1890s, the working class rugby players of the north of England became increasingly angry with the southern clubs of gentlemen because they were not allowed to become professional rugby players. On August 29th 1895, 21 clubs split form the Rugby Football Union and met in the George Hotel, in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. At this landmark meeting they formed the Northern Rugby Football Union. So as not to confuse the two codes, the northern professional game became known as Rugby League whilst those clubs who remained in national organisations of the International Rugby Board were known as Rugby Union clubs or teams.

Although the northern man's game continued to diverge considerably in terms of rules from Rugby Union, the game of Rugby League was not finalised until the formation of the northern Rugby League in 1901 and, afterwards, the Rugby Football League in 1922. In 1948, a meeting in Bordeaux, France, established the Rugby League International Federation to oversee the breakaway game worldwide. It was only in 1995 when all restrictions on payment and benefits were lifted from Rugby Union, turning the original game professional.
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Anonymous commented
I am disappointed that you continue the myth that the original clubs wanted "to become professional rugby players". This is not the case. Rugby was played on Saturday afternoons and in the nineteenth century, and indeed for much of the twentieth, Saturday was regarded as normal working day. Simply put, back in the 1890s the average working man could not afford to take time off from work to play rugby; they asked for no more than that their wages were made up to compensate for `lost time`. Rugby league didn`t actually allow full time professionalism until the 1970s and the first fully professional club in England (Wigan) didn`t appear until the 80s.

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