The union war

K-Rudd has declared an end to the History Wars that crippling battle for supremacy between Australia’s academic elite… but there’s one philosophical battle between the elite and the working class that will not be ended by Prime Ministerial decree…

We’re flying to Brisbane this weekend. We’re heading south for a Rugby match. Of all the things to head south for… I don’t really like Rugby. But Robyn does. So we’re going to watch Australia play South Africa.

Robyn really likes Rugby. She owns a number of jerseys and actually understands the rules enough to yell at the ref about an infringement before he gives a penalty. This is what marriage is about.

But, so that my protest is recorded for posterities sake – here are three areas where Rugby League is clearly the superior game…

  1. Pointscoring – the union point scoring matrix is messed up. It discourages attacking play. Union can not hope to be a spectacle while a penalty goal is worth more than half an unconverted try. There is no incentive to chance your arm for a try when you can do half the work and score more than half the points. Drop goals are also significantly overvalued. If Union swallowed its pride and adopted League’s point scoring methodology attack would be suitably rewarded.
  2. Penalties – Penalty goals are only such an issue because penalties are so common. Seriously. Is there anything in Union that you’re actually allowed to do? Every time the ref watches the play closely he blows his whistle and the team in possession boots the ball between the posts.
  3. Scrums – The claim by Union fans that I find most risible is that their scrums are superior to those used in League. Contested, yes, superior, no. 98% of scrums contested in a Union test are packed more than once, 65% result in penalties. 12% result in wins against the feed (I made these stats up). They’re just as pointless as the scrums in league – it’s like a coin toss to see whether the attacking side gets a penalty or has to stand around in a hemorrhoid inducing group hug.

But I’m a good husband. So I’ll go along without pointing out too many of these areas.


Amy says:

Rugby union players are more attractive as a general rule. So end of argument as far as I’m concerned.

Nathan says:

If you follow that argument you are led to some unhelpful conclusions where AFL and V8 Supercars (apparently) win out…

queenstuss says:

Yes, AFL wins hands down. I don’t think I have ever actually seen an attractive rugby league player.

By your above definition, I don’t think I’ll ever be a good wife. Not good enough to watch a game of rugby union, at least. Or league. Or V8 supercars for that matter…

Leah says:

Just to start off with, I’d definitely rather watch rugby league any day.

But scrums in Rugby do actually have a point. In Rugby League, they are utterly useless. did a poll a while ago asking voters if scrums should be discarded from the NRL competition. I voted yes. They’re useless. I’ve only been watching NRL for 6 or 7 years, and in that time I think I’ve only ever seen ONE instance where the team with the feed lost the ball. (And if I remember correctly, it was QLD winning the ball off a NSW feed in State of Origin.)

I’ve only watched Rugby a few times. I got bored. The ball spent most of the time either under a pile of guys (and while I recognise this is not technically a ‘dead’ ball, it’s metaphorically dead in my books because it’s not DOING anything) or up in the air, going back and forth between both ends of the field 4 times in 30 seconds.

When there’s a game when something is actually happening, I don’t mind watching Rugby. But at least in Rugby League you don’t need to worry about whether you’re going to have to sit there for a minute until they get the ball back from under this ridiculous pile of men.

I’ve never played either but I trust my Dad’s judgment, and he once said Rugby is better for playing and League is better for spectating. (I think it was him. Perhaps don’t quote me on that :P).

Leah says:

Nathan, I temporarily hate your blog. I just wrote two paragraphs about why League is better than Union, and it ate my comment. (In other words… didn’t post it.)

Nathan says:

It used a word that spammers use a lot – so got put in the spam queue.

Justina says:

Gee .. . you married into a family of rugby union lovers . . not a single league lover amongst us. Be prepared for lots of years of rugby ahead of you . .I am confident we will convert you

Robyn says:

Dear Blog Readers,
Nathan really enjoyed the rugby this weekend. He told me. He also stood and cheered at plays and tries during the game, challenged the referee’s calls and generally enjoyed the game itself. This obsession with league must simply be some sort of strange aberration.
from Robyn

Nathan says:

Dear blog readers,

It’s true. I enjoyed aspects of the game. It is a good game. 60% of it is about the same as league… that’s why Union keeps trying to sign talented league players.

I stand by my criticisms though. They were in fact reinforced by the game on the weekend. I’d ad a further point – the time outs make the game drag on.

And line outs are just an excuse for the forwards to have a little stroll from one end of the field to the other. I don’t get how people can criticise league for being “stop start” because of play the balls and enjoy the fact that the ball is in play in Rugby approximately half the time the game is running.