Greetings to all!
Sorry I didn't weigh in earlier! Just returned home from a trip where we visited the White Lion and were close to St Augustine's church. Why do I bring that up? Because the fact that the names are the same doesn't mean it is the same. (Actually we were in the oldest city in North America, St Augustine, Florida, not S&P)
My point: when RL split from Spelly's favourite sport RU, it went with a certain set of rules that included a play the ball where both teams were involved. The ball was played back with the foot. Just like real scrums, both teams had a shot a getting the ball, with one favoured by design over the other. Not true today!
As someone who was exiled (by choice!) from RL for nigh on 25 years the changes I saw were stark because I didn't see them incrementally as most of you did.
Now, I'm ecumenical as far as sports go, because my dad was.Then: RL at Station Road, RU just across the Irwell, cricket at Radcliffe, football at Bolton then Old Trafford. Now NFL (Patriots) NHL (Bruins), RL (Lions and TV), RU (TV), EPL (TV).
Of all the games I watch only one has changed so much that by its nature, the type of athlete, the fundamentals and the strategies are different even to the untrained eye. By comparison, in my eyes, RU is fundamentally the same today as in the 60s.
This is not to say that it is wrong or right, just not the same. The real question is why a game that once dominated in the North of England has been surpassed by the very game it sprang from? Perhaps more people prefer "old-style" rugby? More internationals? British Lions? I don't know the answers.
So, in my humble opinion, RL today is in every way a shadow of its former self, but that does not stop me from being glued to my computer following the live scores on match day or supporting the Lions to the best of my ability. And whether the Lions were good, bad or indifferent in any given era is not relevant to the state of RL today. But they were great in the 60s! And will be again!