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Union/League Hybrid Rugby Fantasy

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Former Rugby League player, Craig Murdock, suggested earlier this week that a merger of Union and League into a hybrid form of Rugby might enable a new sport to compete globally with football.

I’m not so sure about competing wit football as one of the reasons football is so ubiquitous is, simply, its simplicity – you genuinely only need a ball and jumpers for goalposts to get a game going. Whereas in rugby even playing a game of touch without someone in charge can, as we all know, be a nightmare.

I think that Murdock is probably correct, however, in the sense that, in the competition for global revenues, a single form of professional rugby would make an awful lot of sense.

Having done a bit of research on this (I know, astonishing isn’t it?), I discovered that there is already a hybrid rugby concept in Australia whereby  when the team in possession is in their own (defensive) half of the field, the game is played in accordance with the rules of Rugby League (i.e. ‘Play the Ball’) and when the team in possession is in the (attacking) half of the field, the game is played in accordance with the laws of Rugby Union (i.e. ‘Ruck and Maul’).

It’s an interesting concept but flawed insofar as it’s really neither one thing nor other. Even if the format were to be perfectly workable, however,I can’t ever see a genuine hybrid form of rugby happening internationally (other than for novelty purposes), at least not in my lifetime.

I don’t know enough about the powers-that-be in League but, given that even the current financial crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic still hasn’t been enough to provoke a united and co-ordinated approach from the world’s Rugby Union authorities, any thought that a merger with League would ever get over the starting line must surely just be pure fantasy.

Total Flanker – the older I get, the better I was


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