Friday, 9 October 2015

Treizification comes to town

Fans of both rugby codes will be heading to Manchester tomorrow as England play their last match in rugby union's World Cup, a dead rubber against Uruguay at the City of Manchester Stadium, and Leeds meet Wigan in the rugby league Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Since rugby union lifted its ban on professionals twenty years ago, quite a few players and coaches have left league for union, although many of them have not found it an easy switch, Sam Burgess being the latest convert from league to union to struggle in the rival code. Some of the England rugby union team's youngsters played rugby league at amateur or junior level, including Owen Farrell and George Ford, both sons of former league players who now coach in union. Rugby union has also adopted some tactics and rules from league, a process French rugby league historian Robert Fassolette has dubbed "treizification".

When rugby union became openly professional in 1995, many had concerns that the fifteen-a-side game would poach league's top talent in much the same way that union players used to be lured North by league club scouts. While that has happened to some extent, thankfully it hasn't been on anything like the scale that some feared and, as now looks likely with Burgess, several ultimately returned to the thirteen-man code.

1 comment:

  1. Slightly off-topic. A while ago, I was chatting to a couple of league fans while there was a league game showing in the pub. When I mentioned that I used to play union at school, they told me it was wimps' game. I enquired about their experience of playing league, and they had to admit they'd never played.

    So who's the biggest wimp? A person who has played union, or a league fan who's never played at all?