Rugby League is played and loved by those few who are aware of it.
Rugby league has always struggled to gain the global reach enjoyed by its better know brother, rugby union. As a fan of both, it saddens me to see a code that has such a rich history of community and camaraderie struggle to attract the audience it deserves.
For those of you who are NFL fans, picture a punt return on almost every play, just without any protection from your teammates.
Concussion is a huge issue in contact sport, as it should be. This couldn’t be more pertinent for a sport like rugby league, where players are asked to put their bodies on the line. Unlike American football, where positional specialisation means constant team changers, rugby league requires most of its players to remain on the pitch for between 60 and 80 minutes.
It would be foolish to say hits in American football aren’t huge, they are, and dangerous too, but it’s the frequency of contact in rugby that separates it from the NFL.
Relentless hits that require physicality AND stamina. Not to mention the players never want to leave the pitch, like when Sam Burgess broke his cheek bone.
Fox Sports Australia listed other such instances of badassary:
- South Sydney backrower John Sutton played over half a game in the second round with a broken jaw.
- Dylan Walker played 80 minutes and scored two tries in a hard-fought 20-6 win over the Wests Tigers with a broken hand.
- Paul Gallon played in three games with a torn gluteus maximus. He was left with a three-centimetre tear along the tendon in his rear.
- Andrew Fifita played with a broken arm, Jordan Rapana with a fractured skull.