The popularity of rugby has been building up since the 18th century. Find out why this is the case with our detailed breakdown.

What Has Defined the Popularity of Rugby League Over the Years?

Rugby League has been one of the best-recognized sporting contests in the world. The League was formed back in 1895, and with a lineage that spans over a century now, it’s one of the most popular sports anywhere in the world. The original story of the Rugby League was a breakaway unit from the RFU when North England decided to go its own way.

Essentially, the idea behind Rugby League was that working-class players had to make a living and be compensated fairly for the sport they chose to participate in. Injuries and rugby tours were common, and the Rugby League sought to create a way to monetize the sport to the benefit of players.

Monetization has often been part of sport and entertainment. Even now, there are entire websites such as that purposefully try to give you an advantage when you play games by offering a bonus that is the best fit for you. Well, this aside, the Rugby League was one of the first such organizations to really put an emphasis on player well-being, decades before any other sports body even entertained the idea.

Tony Sloterman, the product owner at Casino Bonuses Finder, argues that today’s sports and games success stems from a focus on player well-being. Fans would not want to attend Rugby League games if the athletes weren’t properly compensated or taken care of.

Not All Was Smooth for the Rugby League

At the time, the RFU was very unhappy with the Rugby League’s proposed separation. In fact, management stated that if people couldn’t afford to play, they shouldn’t play in the first place. The Rugby League did not take this opinion and mustered grassroots support that helped it shape itself as a viable alternative to the Rugby Union over the next decade.

Moving forward, the Rugby League introduced numerous changes, including a reduction of the player count from originally 15 to 13 players, with two forwards removed. There was an overall improvement of the playing field, allowing players to undertake less at-risk attacks and for fans to be able to track most of the action instead of losing themselves in the jumbles that players often formed in order to tackle a forward or secure the ball.

The Rugby Union remained somewhat scornful of these changes, but the people who mattered, that is, fans and players, quickly took to them. The game was transformed into a more reliable and safer experience for everyone alike. People were allowed to actually receive payment for the tremendous effort and enormous risk they we’re undertaking, and, overall, everyone was satisfied.

Rugby League’s Popularity in Australia

Naturally, Rugby Union and Rugby League went head-to-head in Australia, with the popularity of the game surging. While the early 1900s seemed to be mostly the time when Union dominated, Rugby League quickly shaped itself as the preferred option as – similarly to England – it gained sympathy with players and local crowds precisely because it was more thoughtful and caring about the well-being of players.

Messenger, a popular team that originally competed in the Rugby Union and, under its rules, made a big switch to Rugby League, which also predicted its success. The Rugby League quickly attracted more crowds from Easts, Balmain, Wests, Newtown, Glebe, Norths, Souths, Cumberland, Newcastle and beyond.