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One reason that Northern Union rugby didn't take off immediately in Wales is that the English Rugby Football Union turned a blind eye to Welsh clubs paying their players (an act known as shamateurism) otherwise they knew that rugby union would be destroyed in working class Wales, which would put a huge dent in the international game. At the time, the Welsh didn't care which organisation they played under because both games had the same rules, but it was obviously far easier to carry on playing against Welsh clubs and to pay their players.
Had the RFU not turned a blind eye then it is likely that Wales would have turned to Northern Union and had the RFU lost rugby in South Wales, and the south west of England, which had close links with the game in Wales, they would have been left controlling a rump primarily based around London.
A key incident was the Arthur Gould affair in 1897. The Welsh rugby international had a testimonial awarded to him in the previous year and was awarded the deeds to his house (but no actual money). The RFU declared Gould a professional and then banned all clubs and players from playing against him. Because of this, in February 1897 the Welsh Rugby Union withdrew from the Rugby Union International Board and was ready to join up with the Northern Union. But by August a compromise was reached as the RFU realised that their control of rugby was at stake. They continued to ignore the payments issue until top player Dai Jones publicly walked out on Aberdare to rejoin his native Treherbert because he wasn‟t getting enough money. Half of the Aberdare committee were banned and formed the Merthyr and later Aberdare Northern Union clubs.
I guess in league where there is no competition for possession players are taught to cling on tightly to the ball in the tackle whereas in RU where play continues to flow after the tackle the player needs to be able to release the ball for team mates to pick up. It's nice that Brian took the time to team him this league nuance.
Well, you responded to Noble's quote.
Any observations on what Gareth Thomas had to say ?
Brian Noble and Gareth Thomas have never said anything other than good words about each other. Gareth needed a career change and found it in RL. But for his personal circumstances, he might well have stayed in RU. Either way, he remains a great bloke whether or not he had ever been a rugby player.
It's churlish of us to try and use Gareth Thomas as an argument for pro/anti feelings about the two codes.
I was not having a pop at Thomas. He always comes across as a great guy. Was just using his quotes as an example. I remember him once saying that when contemplating the switch to League, he thought it was just another way of playing rugby, how hard could it be? On making the switch he came to realise that it was totally different. I played Union to a much higher standard than I ever played League. I know which game I found much more physically and mentally demanding. I get fed up of some of our union cousins dismissing League as they do, not ever having played the game.
7 months for an elderly RU player to master the skills of playing league such that he is picked to play international games.
And he had a lot to learn.....
Gareth Thomas on playing for the Crusaders; "I recently made 17 carries in one game, I felt it the next morning because as a wing in RU you make 17 carries a season. But I love it".
" I've never trained so much in my life".
"And because the training is tougher than in Union I spend a lot of my time in the pool or eating more food trying to put energy back in me".
Brian Noble on Gareth Thomas (British RU Lion, Welsh RU International) ; " He wants to carry the ball a lot but we are going to have to teach him how to do it".
Gareth Thomas on RL; "in union there is a lot of kicking and set plays going on which seem to take ages to play. Whereas in league if you shut down for a few seconds the players are so talented in recognising you are up or out of the line they put the ball up into the air, into a gap and score. It's 80 minutes of working whereas in Union you can rest and have a look into the crowd a lot of the time".
Interesting quote from Noble, British RU Lion being taught how to carry the ball effectively .........