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l'angelo mysterioso

A sport born of rebellion?

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Trojan posted that this was one of s 5 favourite things aabout rugby leaue. Not a problem, and this thread ision no way disrespecting him. I just thought th this idea was worth discussing, and rather than clog up the origiinal thread  I thought I'd start a new one since I'm very interested in rugby history.

 

IMHO rugby league was not born out of rebellion. Th northern clubs were desperate to ward off a professionalism they couldn't afford,as well as keep onside with the govening body. The last thing they wanted to do was rebel. The northern clubs' hand was forced.

 

Rugby League as a  sport evolved trough its traditions of progess, necessity, adaption and innovation

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Many people make the mistake that the Northern Union came about because the Northern clubs wanted to pay players for playing. This myth was perpetuated by the RFU and the print media for over a century, it still goes on today.

 

To play in the Northern Union you had to have a job and certain jobs were prescribed as unsuitable. In fact the Northern Union had stricter rules on professionalism than the RFU had. 

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To play in the Northern Union you had to have a job and certain jobs were prescribed as unsuitable.

 

Interesting, can you tell us more on this?

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the idea that it was some kind of noble uprising by horny handesonse of toil to play the game they loved was at best a myth: at worst bullsh it

 

the clubs were founded and run by wealthy educated people. They saw what that professionasm was messing up soccer, were under pressure to pay their players, decided the clubs couldn't afford it and acted accordingly...a compromise: a compromse that the RFU rejected...although it could have gon the other way. The northern clubs didn't rebel. they had painted themselves into a corner.

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Whilst accepting that the desire for professional rugby was quite simply not the motivating factor behind 1895, the fact is the NU clubs did break away and form their own union, for a number of reasons. It was a rebellion against the governing body. Things didn't turn out as the NU clubs planned (was there really a plan?) but rapidly they built a separate sport.

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Interesting, can you tell us more on this?

it was written into the NU's constitution in great detail including sinecure jobs as snooker scorers and all sorts of codicils

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So what was the broken time argument?  Is that a myth?

no it wasn't a myth

rather  than pay players they were to be compensated for time lost at work on game day-people in industry worked on Saturday. It was a fixed ammount.

 

By this the northern clubs thought they would stave off vprofessionalism and stay onside with the RFU. The people running the clubs weren't socialist firebrands, they were figures of the establishment

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no it wasn't

rather  than pay players they were to be compensated for timst atw ork on game day-people in industry worked on Saturday. It was a fixed ammount.

 

By this the northern clubs thought they would stave of fprofessionalism and stay onside with the RFU. The people running the cluweren't salist firebrands, they were figures of the establishment

 

But as owners of the stongest and biggest clubs they still fancied a larger slice of the power&money pie than they were getting.

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But as owners of the stongest and biggest clubs they still fancied a larger slice of the power&money pie than they were getting.

quite: why wouldnt they?

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no it wasn't a myth

rather  than pay players they were to be compensated for time lost at work on game day-people in industry worked on Saturday. It was a fixed ammount.

 

I always thought it wasn't compensation for the time they were plaing on a Saturday but more for work they missed from picking up injuries while playing, ie the time they were broken for.  It was this making sure people weren't without cash because of a rugby injury that was the issue as the RFU deemed it to be professionalism for any money to end up in the pockets of the players.

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I always thought it wasn't compensation for the time they were plaing on a Saturday but more for work they missed from picking up injuries while playing, ie the time they were broken for.  It was this making sure people weren't without cash because of a rugby injury that was the issue as the RFU deemed it to be professionalism for any money to end up in the pockets of the players.

 

I think the games were midweek, Wednesday afternoons (as per university sport is now, and then?).  By virtue of this the game was less accessible for those that weren't monied.

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Another point was that the RFU refused to permit an organised league or a nationwide cup competition, as it feared that such things would lead to professional teams dominating, as a had happened in (association) football when the Football League had been set up. The club owners saw the money that such competitions would generate for them. They were also looking to maintain their foothold against the growing strength of professional soccer.

Basically they didn’t have much choice: as you say their hand was forced. I do think it is fair to call it a rebellion though, the RFU positively wanted to maintain the “amateur ethos” (read: middle class nature) of their game, and the Northern clubs saw a very different future. There was a genuine disagreement about the future path rugby football should take, and the northern clubs were unable to alter the views of the southern “establishment”. So the broke away and took control of their own destiny to attempt to make it happen.

I agree that you it’s wrong to characterise the schism in anyway as “socialist” or left wing: the clubs were owned by businessmen, who were seeking to generate a profit. The owners were the ones who took the decision to split.

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Interesting, can you tell us more on this?

You also could not work in a bar. Probably something to do with the temperance movement.

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Many people make the mistake that the Northern Union came about because the Northern clubs wanted to pay players for playing. This myth was perpetuated by the RFU and the print media for over a century, it still goes on today.

 

To play in the Northern Union you had to have a job and certain jobs were prescribed as unsuitable. In fact the Northern Union had stricter rules on professionalism than the RFU had. 

Whilst that was initially true, IIRC these rules were abandoned after three years.

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I agree that you it’s wrong to characterise the schism in anyway as “socialist” or left wing: the clubs were owned by businessmen, who were seeking to generate a profit. The owners were the ones who took the decision to split.

 

Quite, although it's generally the received wisdom that the Northern sides were a bit more working class in their team make ups.  I have no idea whether this is true or not though.

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Another element was the frustration of the leading Northern clubs at not being recognised. Establishment clubs, such as the Blackheath's, Harlequin FC and Manchester FC's of this world, kept the best fixtures for themselves, effectively making the northern clubs (eg. Salford, Swinton) a second tier despite these producing the bulk of the England team by the 1880s.

 

It's interesting that on the current RU Lion's coverage the 1888 tour is now widely promoted as the first Lions tour. I don't remember this being the case in the past due to the fact that it was organised outside the auspices of the RFU, dominated by Northern clubs and recognised as a "rebel" tour. Rugby league has as much claim to the 1888 Lions as rugby union.

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quite: why wouldnt they?

 

So they rebelled against the staus quo.

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By this the northern clubs thought they would stave off vprofessionalism and stay onside with the RFU. The people running the clubs weren't socialist firebrands, they were figures of the establishment

Here are the backgrounds to some of the club secretaries at the time.

 

Leigh,  John Quirk,  Accountant
Bradford, Atonio Fattorini, owner of a jewelry business
Halifax Joe Nicholl, owner of hoisery, hatter's and outfitters business.
Leeds, Henry Sewell, manager at a wood engraving business.
Warrington, James Warren, prominant freemason and founder of Commercial Travellers Association.
Huddersfield, John Clifford, owner of paper tube business.
Widnes, Jack Smith, manager of a chemical company that was to become ICI.
Brighouse, Henry Hirst, wealthy industrialist with textile  and metals businisses
Joe Platt, Oldham, owned a surveying business, director of a spinning company and an advertising company  and MD of acompany that owned four theatres
 
Not exactly a bunch of pitmen.

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Here are the backgrounds to some of the club secretaries at the time.

 

Leigh,  John Quirk,  Accountant
Bradford, Atonio Fattorini, owner of a jewelry business
Halifax Joe Nicholl, owner of hoisery, hatter's and outfitters business.
Leeds, Henry Sewell, manager at a wood engraving business.
Warrington, James Warren, prominant freemason and founder of Commercial Travellers Association.
Huddersfield, John Clifford, owner of paper tube business.
Widnes, Jack Smith, manager of a chemical company that was to become ICI.
Brighouse, Henry Hirst, wealthy industrialist with textile  and metals businisses
Joe Platt, Oldham, owned a surveying business, director of a spinning company and an advertising company  and MD of acompany that owned four theatres
 
Not exactly a bunch of pitmen.

 

Regardless of their middle class backgrounds and educations which were obviously quiet different to the majority of players at the clubs they ran, they carried out an act of rebellion.

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Bradford, Atonio Fattorini, owner of a jewelry business

 

This firm is still (or was up until a few years ago) producing medals that are presented in the game.

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So they rebelled against the staus quo.

 

In a sense there was a rejection of the status quo in how an aspect of the game was organised, but the actions of what became the NU clubs was a reaction to changing economic and social circumstances. So, there wasn't a status quo in the wider context in which rugby operated The NU clubs were dealing with an organisation that didn't want to adapt to changing circumstances. The RFU got there eventually in the late twentieth century though. 

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In a sense there was a rejection of the status quo in how an aspect of the game was organised, but the actions of what became the NU clubs was a reaction to changing economic and social circumstances. So, there wasn't a status quo in the wider context in which rugby operated The NU clubs were dealing with an organisation that didn't want to adapt to changing circumstances. The RFU got there eventually in the late twentieth century though. 

 

Hmm. Reject/rebel. It was organic growth after the initial act of rebellion, sure. But first they had to act when faced with the RFU head-in-the-sand approach to evolution. TBF there were many different factors influencing the decision to go it alone. The OP suggested this wasn't an act of rebellion. While the initial intentions clearly weren't, the august 95 split, in my opinion, was.

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Interesting, can you tell us more on this?

The first rule of The Northern Union was that no player could be a professional, this was defined thus; "any player who shall receive from his club or any member of it any money or consideration whatsoever (except for Bona Fide brokwn time) actual or prospective for services to the club of which he is a member"

 

The maximum payment for broken time was 6 shillings (30p [£30]) and the payment had to not exceed what the player would earn for one day's pay.

 

Clubs could be find from £25 [£2,600] and £150 [£15,600]

 

The rules were relaxed in 1898, to allow professionalism, however players still had to be in full time employment outside of the game and billiard markers, waiters at licensed houses etc. were still barred. Any player who became unemployed through reason's beyond their control had to apply to the Northern Union to continue playing whilst he sought alternative employment.

 

The figures in [] brackets are the modern approximate equivalent. 

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Here are the backgrounds to some of the club secretaries at the time.

 

Leigh,  John Quirk,  Accountant
Bradford, Atonio Fattorini, owner of a jewelry business
Halifax Joe Nicholl, owner of hoisery, hatter's and outfitters business.
Leeds, Henry Sewell, manager at a wood engraving business.
Warrington, James Warren, prominant freemason and founder of Commercial Travellers Association.
Huddersfield, John Clifford, owner of paper tube business.
Widnes, Jack Smith, manager of a chemical company that was to become ICI.
Brighouse, Henry Hirst, wealthy industrialist with textile  and metals businisses
Joe Platt, Oldham, owned a surveying business, director of a spinning company and an advertising company  and MD of acompany that owned four theatres
 
Not exactly a bunch of pitmen.

No, but they weren't landed gentry either.

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