I'm pretty sure that the Aussies would have called RL "rugby" in the early days
If they'd stuck to calling it that then perhaps the RU is Oz would have had to refer to its game as Rugby Union
Was all "rugby" until the early 1970s. Before WW2 there was just "professional rugby" and "amateur rugby".
If/when distinction was required in conversation or print, then "league" or "union" was used on its own or it was RL or RU. In the 1970s the NSWRL changed its match program from "Rugby League News" to "Big League", and the Ch7 tv coverage was called "Seven's Big League".
I must say that I side with Paley's views on this one re RL in Australia. I tried to get this issue prominence in 2003 when the R(U)WC was on here, but very few in RL here (media, fans, officials) care about it at all - they simply don't see it is a problem for the code.
Sure there's an element of impact from RU's push to be seen just as "rugby", but to be frank, most of the way the code formerly known as "rugby league" - but now known as "league" - is referred to here is entirely of our own doing.
I've written articles for major magazines and newspapers here over the past decade and NOT ONCE has an editor re-edited my work to change "rugby union" to "rugby", or "rugby league" to "league".
It's all a sad reflection of the RL community here still - after 15 years - still not come to the realisation that there are now 3 other professional football codes in NSW/QLD competing with RL.
A similar example exists with the salary cap - a tool implemented in the early 1990s when RL had no external competitors, and hopelessly inappropriate for the world RL exists in today.
Edited by RL1908.com, 27 July 2010 - 10:46 AM.