English class: rugby vs. football

What are the class implications in English society of being a fan of rugby football as opposed to soccer?

In England, rugby union has middle-class connotations. To generalise, football was for the working-class kids in the street, rugby (and cricket) for those at the nice schools. Rugby league, in the areas where it is popular, is universal. And in Wales, rugby union is all-embracing.

As of today, self identifying as a football fan tells someone absolutely nothing about your class/background/education etc as it is popular across all social strata pretty much everywhere. All sports in the UK are utterly subservient to the crushing dominance of football. Didn’t used to be the case by a long chalk, but times have changed.

Saying you were a rugby union fan OTOH would be fairly revealing about your background, depending on where you said it. I’m from Merseyside in the NW of the UK, and no one really plays, or is interested in, rubgy union other than those with a private school education. Declaring a genuine interest in rugby union round these parts would be a clear indication of that sort of background, and the attendant assumptions on your wealth, social standing etc would no doubt be made.

Rugby league fans are a breed apart entirely, there is literally no stronger way of identifying with the flat-capped, ferret owning northern stereotype than saying you follow rugby league. The game has no representation whatsoever amongst the perceived upper and middle classes of Britain. Kind of ironic, because its historically been ten years ahead of rugby union in pure sporting terms.

In Australia, all three codes are played (along with Australian football), and as in Britain, the biggest class difference is between the two kinds of Rugby.

Rugby League is the most popular football in New South Wales, less so in Queensland, and hardly known in the other four states. It has historical ties with the working class, but is watched by all these days, in the areas where it is watched.

Rugby Union is more popular among the upper middle-class, private-school, type, and again is most popular in New South Wales.

To fill out the picture, Australian football is most popular in Victoria, but followed by almost everyone there. Soccer is mostly followed by descendants of immigrants from Europe, but is also widely played by children.

So in Austraia the dimensions are class (private vs. state school), descent from Anglo-Celts vs. from continental Europeans, and north vs. south of the Murray River – actually, to be more precise, of the Murrumbidgee.

So the Rugby League and the Rugby Union are two separate leagues or conferences of rugby clubs and the demographics of League fans differs from Union fans?

What clubs are in the Rugby League and what clubs are in the Rugby Union?

They’re two different games, with slightly different rules. League has its stronghold in the north-east and in West Yorkshire.

They’re different games, each with its own set of rules. The biggest difference wrt your OP is that league was historically a professional game, whereas union was amateur. That has now changed and union has become professional. I’m not that knowledgeable on rugby either way so maybe someone can flesh this out for you.

Following rugby league is basically the same as saying “I grew up near the M62” :slight_smile:

If you just wanted an English perspective then ignore this post.
In my Welsh grammar school football was completely forbidden on school grounds. Rugby Union was the main winter sport and cricket the summer sport. We were told that football wasn’t a game for young gentlemen and would not be tolerated.
Perhaps things are different there now( I’m talking about 50 years ago).

I direct you to the following,

What is boiled down to was that the midle classes had some idea of Corinthian values, sport played for the joy of it, but the same people could afford to do this.

Working class folk, a very very much larger pool of talent, could not afford to take time off work without pay, and needed recompense for the working time lost.

The Rugby Union board, made up of the middle classes would not countenance such a move as payment for broken time, as it was called, and were threatened with a breakaway from Rugby Union.

This certainly suited the middle classes, the great rugby teams of the day were smashing the middle class teams(they were also divided along social line) and those great teams tended to be in areas where there was the greatest available pool to draw from, the Northern industrial cities.

If ever the two codes were to merge again, the same situation would result, the Northern teams would dominate.

The reality is that the North is where the crowds are, and where national sponsorship would go, and thus the money.

You do not tend to get crowds in excess of 10k at union games except for a small number of clubs, 2 maybe 3, union has hocked itself deeply, the support as yet is not enough to pay for it, or justify the sponsorship, not yet but it is developing.

By contrast, theres maybe 8 or 9 League clubs that pull in over 10k per game week in week out, and there are a few in the league one step below who come close.

The standard of the game would dramatically improve, as yet in terms of fitness and conditioning, Union is still at least 5 years, and probably 10 years behind League.(and 20 behind the Aussies)

Proof of poor conditioning comes from unions own statistics, they are finding it difficult to cope with both club and international duties due to injuries, yet league players have been doing this for years, but their physical make up tends to be somewhat differant, the classic league player is a barrel chested individual, with a certain running style that is set farily low and balanced, union players tend to go for either mass pushes which demands one type of player, or gazelle like sprinters, the other type.

When league clubs play union club on the few exhibition games, such as the sevens competition, what shows is that the league player tends to stop the union player dead in his tracks one on one, tackling in league is about halting progress(in union a tackle just starts a differant phase of play) and every player on a league pitch has to be capable of stopping the largest forward on the opposing side, even the smaller winger have to do this.Union players are not capable of returning the favour, they simply don’t stop as sudden, its not down to power, union players have plenty of that, they just don’t play and train in the same way.

Come on, myler, old bean, you don’t really believe that!

The “public schools” i.e. the private schools for those with the monay to pay, do taint themselves with soccer now and then. Dashed bad show, what, what!

Those dashed rugby leaguers of the 13-man game are common as muck and, as oaften as not, from mining communities. Say no more, what, what!

Bally good show! And you only a few miles from Wales, what, what!

Dashed bad show on these proletarian types, what, what!

Studs, would I be wrong to say this is your Col. Blimp voice speaking?
Baffled but amused Yank

Dashed if I ever know what you colonial types are going on about, what what!

Tally Ho!

There’s much more than a slight difference in the rules.

I’ve played for 14 years and am a certified rugby union referee to boot. I ought to know.

Flyhalf, **GorillaMan ** was probably speaking in terms of relative differences. Yes union and league are two different games, with different rules. They don’t even have the same number of players on a team (15 for union; 13 for league). But the differences are not so great that players from one code can’t move to the other without too much difficulty. The differences are thus “slight” compared with, say, those between rugby union/league and Australian football or soccer.

The switching of codes is, in reality, only available to certain types of player and in certain positions.

You don’t ge many, if any, union forwards cross into rugby league, and you dno’t get many league forwards cross back.

You tend to get more half backs and scrum halfs moving league to union, and more wingers moving from union to league.

The problem for union players moving to league, is that the types who do are not the unions tackling playersm whereas every league player has to be able to make tackles on a regular basis.
Union wingers as a result tend to get injured going into tackles wrong, they don’t have the years of high level play doing thins and end up hurt.

League backs who get inot union(pretty rare at the moment) are used to making yards rather than the rolling play where you are looking for you support from the forwards. It means they are often hard to put down, but they don’t make the rolloing play work as well, so they are used to make big breaks or tries, where the need to keep the game alive is not as important.

I have quoted this on the board before, but it’s worth another hearing.

“football is a game for gentleman, played by louts. Rugby is a game for louts, played by gentlemen” :slight_smile:

hmm i prefer League.

Mining community check

near M62 check

common as muck check


Come on FR RLFC!

Fair point - but in contrast, the big money for internationals is with union.

I think the biggest difference between modern day League and Union was revealed by the recent revelation that Aussie players take caffeine tablets before games. Understandable…not much happens on the field nowadays…kick, lineout,maul, 2 yard run, ruck, cleanout, 2 yard run, ruck, penalty…must be very hard for the backs to stay awake.

Football is a gentleman’s game played by oiks.

Rugby is an oik’s game played by gentlemen.