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Northern Union. A time to take stock?

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1895 worked eventually, in that RU went pro exactly a hundred years subsequent.(I think they called it going "Open")

If in 2006, to comply with the demands of chronological symmetry, they had introduced a PTB, it would have worked even better. Still waiting for that, although all the changes to their ruck in the past 25 years have gravitated in a League direction.

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2 hours ago, unapologetic pedant said:

1895 worked eventually, in that RU went pro exactly a hundred years subsequent.(I think they called it going "Open")

If in 2006, to comply with the demands of chronological symmetry, they had introduced a PTB, it would have worked even better. Still waiting for that, although all the changes to their ruck in the past 25 years have gravitated in a League direction.

I view very little but what I have seen they are going more like League, obviously influenced by the number of RL coaches they feel the need to employ, how long before they drop 2 player's is the more pertinant question, if they ever do the little squat front rows will go, there will be more space available which will require quicker faster player's all over the field and the whole dynamics will change.

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I know this is tongue in check and it depends on what is meant by worked but I'm going to play devil's advocate.

It didn't work because it entrenched the sport as a Northern sport and the initial clubs were all bothered about themselves, not expanding the game or establishing firm foundations. It was all about the elite. In the North Union was decimated after the split but the Northern Union wasn't interested in developing the game as such and today in the North, the game's heartland, there are more RU clubs at the lower levels with better facilities and more players. The Northern Union/Rugby League seemed to be quite content to be a professional arm of Rugby for a long time, which the game is still paying for.

Clubs in places like Newcastle, Coventry, Birkenhead, Lancaster, Stockport, Morecombe, South Shields etc were allowed to come and go in the early years which would have given the sport a much more national blue print. Little attempt was made to bring over Wales as a whole which was a completely natural fit for the game and all of those initial Welsh clubs the game did see were lost. Even the first Northern Union Champions, Manningham, were lost to Football.

It also didn't work because without the split Rugby would have naturally became what Rugby League is today. It would have followed the same path with rule changes and for the same reasons.

Who also knows what would have happened if the clubs didn't split away and all the leading clubs worked to change Rugby and player payments from within? Yes it took 100 years for RU to go pro but it may have happened much sooner if it wasn't for the split, which just entrenched positions and saw all of the working class part of the game and leading clubs outside of the RFU with no influence.

It worked in the sense that the game still exists and that a majority of the original Northern Union clubs still exist. The game has first mover advantage in its rule changes and has evolved to be a much more attractive game to watch and play. Rugby Union is stifled in its gameplay and much of what can be improved takes it ever closer to Rugby League.

Edited by Damien
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13 minutes ago, Damien said:

I know this is tongue in check and it depends on what is meant by worked but I'm going to play devil's advocate.

It didn't work because it entrenched the sport as a Northern sport and the initial clubs were all bothered about themselves, not expanding the game or establishing firm foundations. It was all about the elite. In the North Union was decimated after the split but the Northern Union wasn't interested in developing the game as such and today in the North, the game's heartland, there are more RU clubs at the lower levels with better facilities and more players. The Northern Union/Rugby League seemed to be quite content to be a professional arm of Rugby for a long time, which the game is still paying for.

Clubs in places like Newcastle, Coventry, Birkenhead, Lancaster, Stockport, Morecombe, South Shields etc were allowed to come and go in the early years which would have given the sport a much more national blue print. Little attempt was made to bring over Wales as a whole which was a completely natural fit for the game and all of those initial Welsh clubs the game did see were lost. Even the first Northern Union Champions, Manningham, were lost to Football.

It also didn't work because without the split Rugby would have naturally became what Rugby League is today. It would have followed the same path with rule changes and for the same reasons.

Who also knows what would have happened if the clubs didn't split away and all the leading clubs worked to change Rugby and player payments from within? Yes it took 100 years for RU to go pro but it may have happened much sooner if it wasn't for the split, which just entrenched positions and saw all of the working class part of the game and leading clubs outside of the RFU with no influence.

It worked in the sense that the game still exists and that a majority of the original Northern Union clubs still exist. The game has first mover advantage in its rule changes and has evolved to be a much more attractive game to watch and play. Rugby Union is stifled in its gameplay and much of what can be improved takes it ever closer to Rugby League.

From memory, the final paragraph in the book "The Forbidden Game" has the phrase (or very close to it) "If today we had no Rugby League, we would only have Rugby League" pretty much sums up what you are saying Damien that "Rugby" would have evolved into what League is today.

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6 minutes ago, Harry Stottle said:

From memory, the final paragraph in the book "The Forbidden Game" has the phrase (or very close to it) "If today we had no Rugby League, we would only have Rugby League" pretty much sums up what you are saying Damien that "Rugby" would have evolved into what League is today.

I've still never read it Harry but it makes complete sense. We evolved for a reason. The only reason Union didn't was because we did first.

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4 hours ago, unapologetic pedant said:

1895 worked eventually, in that RU went pro exactly a hundred years subsequent.(I think they called it going "Open")

If in 2006, to comply with the demands of chronological symmetry, they had introduced a PTB, it would have worked even better. Still waiting for that, although all the changes to their ruck in the past 25 years have gravitated in a League direction.

I think (under pressure from Australia?) the effective abolition of the maul did turn their game into a slow motion version of of our game in 1965.

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Just now, Rupert Prince said:

I think (under pressure from Australia?) the effective abolition of the maul did turn their game into a slow motion version of of our game in 1965.

I don't know how you can say that.  Back when I tried to watch RU during their 1995 World Cup it looked very different from the (then modest) amount of RL which I'd seen at that point.

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The split was as much a class thing as a disagreement about money, the Public Schoolboys who played and ran the game didn't need the money and disliked intensely that the Northern clubs were becoming the power in the game, the manual workers who played in the Northern clubs were physically much stronger which suited the ruck and maul and dribbling type of game that Union was back then. When the split came the NUs biggest challenge was from football which was gaining strength particularly in the North West, and the needed to pull in paying spectators so the rules evolved to make the game more attractive and open, Union didn't have such problems, no leagues, no need to pander to paying fans, club's fixture lists were arranged on social standing, though it's hard to believe that 'boot money' didn't exist even back then. For a club to progress was very difficult and even frowned upon, too much like proffesionalisam in many eyes.

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13 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

I don't know how you can say that.  Back when I tried to watch RU during their 1995 World Cup it looked very different from the (then modest) amount of RL which I'd seen at that point.

RL in 1995 was different to 1965.  I think the 4, later 6, tackle rule came in around 1968. The current RU situation, where the ball is (effectively) played on the ground in the ruck, as opposed to standing with the foot, is similar to our old unlimited play the ball.  And our rucks were still contested then.  True, the gain line in RU is just 1m, but we only had 3 yards back then.  

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6 minutes ago, Rupert Prince said:

RL in 1995 was different to 1965.  I think the 4, later 6, tackle rule came in around 1968. The current RU situation, where the ball is (effectively) played on the ground in the ruck, as opposed to standing with the foot, is similar to our old unlimited play the ball.  And our rucks were still contested then.  True, the gain line in RU is just 1m, but we only had 3 yards back then.  

I get what you're saying about RU today, but if my memory is correct it wasn't like that 25 years ago.  My recollection is that they did a lot of kicking the ball downfield so it would roll out of bounds and they could contest the resulting throw-in, I wasn't impressed a bit.

Edited by Big Picture
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1 hour ago, Damien said:

 

It also didn't work because without the split Rugby would have naturally became what Rugby League is today. It would have followed the same path with rule changes and for the same reasons.

Who also knows what would have happened if the clubs didn't split away and all the leading clubs worked to change Rugby and player payments from within? Yes it took 100 years for RU to go pro but it may have happened much sooner if it wasn't for the split, which just entrenched positions and saw all of the working class part of the game and leading clubs outside of the RFU with no influence.

Off the field these assumptions are a stretch given the way the RFU were able to keep other Unions broadly in line with their amateur ethos for so long. Particularly those in Wales and NZ with majority working-class participants.

On the field, there`s a stronger argument. When the Northern Union in 1906 introduced the mini-scrum/PTB, many saw it as a return to the roots of Rugby when the tackled player had to regain his feet and force the ball down for the scrum, i.e. before the RFU decreed the tackled player should release on the ground.

BTW, are we sure this thread title is "Tongue in cheek"? - a variation on the Zhou Enlai "Too early to say" comment on the impact of the French Revolution (which apparently is a myth, merely the result of a misunderstanding).

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2 hours ago, Damien said:

It worked in the sense that the game still exists and that a majority of the original Northern Union clubs still exist. The game has first mover advantage in its rule changes and has evolved to be a much more attractive game to watch and play. Rugby Union is stifled in its gameplay and much of what can be improved takes it ever closer to Rugby League.

Rugby union had no interest in improving as a spectacle until it needed to because it had to pay its players. The reason rugby league came into being was because amateurism (not just in rugby but that's our context) was so stifling there was no way they could pay players and carry on within the rugby union system. They had been trying to change that since at least the foundation of the Football League in 1888. They were getting nowhere - and would have carried on getting nowhere.(*)

So, rugby league isn't formed. Rugby union still remains an amateur sport of interest to a few establishment types, bookies and the players. There is no pressure to move to a spectator friendly sport because there remains no professionalism within rugby union.

(* = the Football League, as an equivalent example, wasn't set up with a benign FA cheering it on. It, and others, had to fight a decades long war with amateurists to get professional football taken seriously and for professionals to take control of the sport. By which time, England was already well behind other countries around the world and has never really caught up.)


Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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4 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

Off the field these assumptions are a stretch given the way the RFU were able to keep other Unions broadly in line with their amateur ethos for so long. Particularly those in Wales and NZ with majority working-class participants.

On the field, there`s a stronger argument. When the Northern Union in 1906 introduced the mini-scrum/PTB, many saw it as a return to the roots of Rugby when the tackled player had to regain his feet and force the ball down for the scrum, i.e. before the RFU decreed the tackled player should release on the ground.

BTW, are we sure this thread title is "Tongue in cheek"? - a variation on the Zhou Enlai "Too early to say" comment on the impact of the French Revolution (which apparently is a myth, merely the result of a misunderstanding).

They kept them in line by turning a blind eye to what was happening in Wales, New Zealand and France, never mind England itself. They had to after the split because they were scared to lose these nations to Rugby League and more English clubs. If the powerful and wealthy English clubs at that time were fighting the same fight, as well as what happened in the likes of Australia anyway, then I feel what happened in the 90s would have happened much sooner and that it would have gone the same way as Football did in its infancy. We will never know and as I said I'm playing devils advocate a little.

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8 hours ago, Number 16 said:

1895. Has it worked? 

A good question and on the right forum to deliver a definitive answer.

 

27 minutes ago, Damien said:

as I said I'm playing devils advocate a little.

And that's RED DEVIL'S advocate to you Damien!

Edited by Oxford

"If songs were lines/In a conversation/The situation would be fine."

 

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3 hours ago, Damien said:

 

It didn't work because it entrenched the sport as a Northern sport and the initial clubs were all bothered about themselves, not expanding the game or establishing firm foundations. It was all about the elite. In the North Union was decimated after the split but the Northern Union wasn't interested in developing the game as such and today in the North, the game's heartland, there are more RU clubs at the lower levels with better facilities and more players. The Northern Union/Rugby League seemed to be quite content to be a professional arm of Rugby for a long time, which the game is still paying for.

Clubs in places like Newcastle, Coventry, Birkenhead, Lancaster, Stockport, Morecombe, South Shields etc were allowed to come and go in the early years which would have given the sport a much more national blue print. Little attempt was made to bring over Wales as a whole which was a completely natural fit for the game and all of those initial Welsh clubs the game did see were lost. Even the first Northern Union Champions, Manningham, were lost to Football.

These two paragraphs strongly reflect my view on this aspect. It`s why I don`t accept it`s pedantic to insist that 1906 is a more significant year than 1895. That`s when the game on the field became recognisably different and ceased to be merely pro Rugby. Unfortunately payment of players had become entrenched as our defining characteristic, and as you say, most in the NU/RL and the pro clubs did nothing for a long time to try and change that.

So they were indifferent to Union`s hegemony in schools, universities, armed services and other public institutions. And willing to keep paying players even if it meant going bust. It`s why amateurs and juniors were neglected, indeed why the very idea of amateur RL was seen as an oxymoron.

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10 hours ago, Number 16 said:

1895. Has it worked? 

Needs a little more time to bed in. It’s a youthful synergistically syndicate web-enabled convergence of business units  going forward in blue sky horizon scanning engagement and inclusion scenarios.

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- Adepto Successu Per Tributum Fuga -

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6 hours ago, Manx RL said:

Needs a little more time to bed in. It’s a youthful synergistically syndicate web-enabled convergence of business units  going forward in blue sky horizon scanning engagement and inclusion scenarios.

 

1 hour ago, Aidan Putt said:

Rimmer needs a deep dive to objectively harness covalent information.

You two sound as if you've been working in the strategy department of the RFL for the last 20 odd years.

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