History of the RFL and RL
It is known as the greatest game of all. Depending on where you’re from, some people call it “Rugby League”, “Rugby”, “League”, and in the francophone world; “Rugby à Treize”. Whatever you call it, it is the most exciting team sports spectacle on the planet. Rugby League has deep roots and history in the United Kingdom, France, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island Nations. The RFL started in 1895 and has since evolved into a sport played in more than 75 countries worldwide.
In late Victorian Britain, Rugby was the dominant code of ‘football’ and exclusively a game played by amateurs. Players were unpaid, which people began to realize would restrict its ability to grow.
On August 29, 1895, 22 major clubs from the north of England met and voted to break away from the Rugby Football Union and form their own competition that allowed for payments to players in lieu of taking time off of work to play. From this point on, The Rugby Football League and the sport of Rugby League were born.
The new RFL clubs began to embrace rule changes designed to make the game more attractive to fans. The number of players was reduced from 15 to 13 to encourage open play, line-outs were dropped to reduce delays, the scoring system was adapted to put more emphasis on scoring tries rather than kicking goals, the rules around possession were re-written to create the ‘play-the-ball’ system that operates to this day, and a tackle or “down” system was introduced. Since it’s groundbreaking beginnings in the North of England, and it’s subsequent growth globally, Rugby League has always stood for innovation, freedom of choice, and lifting one’s prospects no matter how humble their start, or where they came from. Now, 126 years and counting, the RFL will expand to Cornwall for the first time professionally, and in doing so it will continue the tradition of being a sport and a club by the people and for the people.