History of the Rugby codes

The birth of rugby union & rugby league

The roots of the rugby codes can be traced to early football history, through the playing of ball games which bear little resemblance to modern sports. William Webb Ellis picked up the round ball and ran with it at Rugby School in England to mark the beginnings of rugby union.

In 1895 rugby football was beset with a schism that resulted in the formation of the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU) and rugby league was born.

Rugby league took off in Australia in 1908. A major motivation for the schism was the payment of players. Rugby league players were paid. Rugby union players were not.

Although coming from the same beginnings, the two rugby codes are two distinct races, breeds, varieties, or species of football.

The lessons of history tell us that, as with everything in life, football codes are in a constant state of evolution.

Life is about evolution.

The evolution of the rugby codes should be embraced.


The motivation for the schism between the codes, which was the payment of players, has now been removed, with rugby union becoming a professional sport in 1995. The reason for the original schism has now become irrelevant.

With players in both codes now being paid as professionals, it is now time for “…a person or group of persons produced by the interaction or crossbreeding of two unlike cultures, traditions…” to emerge.

Now is the ideal time for the two codes to cooperate as one and challenge their competitors, AFL and football who are encroaching into the rugby league and union territory to regain market share in a win win scenario for both codes.

Now is the time for Hybrid Rugby.