Rugby Union vs Rugby League: What’s the Difference?

Rugby Union vs Rugby League: What’s the Difference? Whilst it is well-known that there are two different types of rugby played, many may not know the differences between the two […]

Rugby Union vs Rugby League: What’s the Difference?

Whilst it is well-known that there are two different types of rugby played, many may not know the differences between the two sports.

Sure, the sport appears to follow the same premise in regards to getting the ball down to the other end of the field and scoring a try, however there are a number of differences that fans of the sport will know that casual watchers or even sports bettors may not know about.

Indeed, it is important for those new to sports betting who decide to use the free bet offers Pennsylvania sportsbooks provide them on the sport of rugby to know the difference, as this can help improve the overall outcome of the bet being placed.

History of Rugby Union and Rugby League

It can be important to understand the origins of each sport, especially when there are two different disciplines that are played. 1871 saw Rugby Football Union be introduced and formed with the main aim of looking to regulate what could happen within the sport.

However, it should be noted that their reluctance to allow players to go professional – as had many other sports in history – meant a number of players felt that they were forced to create their own discipline and create a league in which they could be paid to play.

Key differences to squad and playing numbers

One of the main, noticeable differences that many will likely be able to see almost immediately is the number of players each team has when they take to the pitch. Rugby Union will feature a total of 15 players on the field at the start of the game, whereas Rugby League is played with 13 players.

Furthermore, there are differences in regards to the number of substitutions that can be made in each code of the sport, with Rugby League allowing for each side to make up to 10 changes, whereas Rugby Union will only allow for 8 to be made. Due to the number of starting players being fewer in Rugby League, the pitches used are also of a slightly smaller nature, as well.


The totals in which points are awarded is also different between the two sports, as well.

Those playing Rugby Union will score 5 points when they manage to get the ball down the other end and score a try, whilst they will receive an extra 2 points when a conversion has been scored after the try. In addition, 3 points can be obtained when a penalty or a drop goal has been scored.

Rugby League is a little more conservative in regards to the points totals on offer, though, as a try will only provide teams with a total of 4 points, whereas a conversion remains 2 points. A successful penalty will also award the team with 2 points, however a drop goal will only provide the team with an additional point; thus both being subsequently worth less than they are in Rugby Union.

Tackling is perhaps the biggest difference

The way that tackles are made is perhaps one of the biggest differences between the two codes and one way in which viewers will immediately be able to distinguish which discipline is being played if they had no idea to begin with.

In Rugby Union, a player who is tackled will look to try and protect the ball from the opposition and get it to another one of their players once inside a ruck as players look to try and win the ball back. This, arguably, adds a more physical element to the game and one that is not experienced in Rugby League.

Although still equally tough and competitive, Rugby League will see players be able to get back to their feet once tackled and roll the ball back to one of their players via their feet. A “Chicken Scratch” can also happen in Rugby League – which is where a player from each team will compete for the ball – but this does not happen in Rugby Union. There is a tackle limit of 6 in Rugby League before the ball needs to be turned over by kicking it back to the other team, although Rugby Union has no such rule.

Other differences include when the ball goes out of play. Rugby League will see a scrum contested, whereas Rugby Union will have a lineout take place as the team try and retain the ball.

Otherwise, the game is relatively the same, with the same ball being played and the main objective being to score as many points as possible.