I've known of the existence of rugby league since some time in the early 80s. Back then I was at school in Wales (a five year stint, I was mostly brought up in Sussex, and have lived all my adult years in London), so of course rugby union was the thing. But a few times when we were missing some kids our PE teacher would make us play league instead. Dunno why, he could have just said "no flankers" and have us carry on under union rules. But anyway, I'm not sure that he fully understood the laws of league, as my abiding impression from back then is that after a tackle the ref blew his whistle, everything stopped for a bit, everyone gets up, then you play the ball. Very stop-start, no continuity. I continued to be vaguely aware that this other rugby code existed but never saw much of it. I think I might have flicked past it on the telly a few times but never stopped to watch, because why would you watch a game that stops all the time like that.
And then in 2013 I was flicking through the channels and saw a world cup match. Don't remember which one it was, but someone was breaking away and scoring an absolutely brilliant try, the sort of play which you could get in either code and which brings the whole stadium to its feet. I thought "ooh, this looks good", and got a bit confused when the score only went up by 4 instead of 5 like it should have done. It wasn't long from the subsequent restart that it was clear this wasn't the rugby I was used to, but I stayed with it for a few seconds more and seeing it played properly was a revelation. I've been hooked ever since. I now consider anyone who has seen both codes played properly and doesn't love them both to be in a state of sin.
During my union playing days I was a prop, a position that basically doesn't exist in league teams which might as well consist entirely of backs, so I know with absolute certainty that if I were to play again I'd prefer to *play* union over league - not that it's ever gonna happen with my bad back, dodgy ankles and so on. But I'm happy *watching* both. Most weekends, when I'm not umpiring a cricket match, you'll find me at The Stoop watching Quins, or at Trailfinders for the Broncos, or at the New River for the Skolars, or watching the Brixton Bulls or Streatham-Croydon RFC. If the kick-off times let me see Quins, Broncos and Skolars on the same day then I will.