1) Team Size
A standard rugby team consists of 15 men on the field at any given time and 7 reserve players on the sideline, whilst a standard league team consists of only 13 players wand 4 reserves. Rugby League operates an interchange system for reserve players with each team allowed to make up to 10 changes throughout the game. Rugby is different as players cannot return to the field once they come off, with two notable exceptions to this rule.
A try in rugby is worth 5 points, a conversion 2 points, a penalty and field goal are both worth 3 points. In rugby league a try is 4 points, the conversion is 2 points, a penalty is also 2 points and a field goal is worth only 1 point.
3) Scrums and Lineouts
Both games have a scrum, although in rugby league the scrum is not as contested as it is in rugby, the amount of players used in the league scrum is also less than that of rugby. Rugby league does not have lineouts like rugby. If the ball or player with the ball go over the touch line, the opposing team is given the “put in” for a scrum in the centre of the field where the ball crossed the touch line. Hence the touch line is generally not used for possession as it is in rugby, with one or two exceptions.
Whilst the tackling concept is similar in both games they are handled differently. As league has a 6 tackle rule the opposing team generally commits minimal players (two or three) per tackle in order to keep the defensive line strengthened for the next running play. In rugby a tackled player will attract a number of players from both teams in order to secure the ball. Rugby league also allows the use of a shoulder charge, which is not permitted in rugby, it is through the shoulder charge that a number of leagues ‘big hits’ are found.
5) Advancing the Ball
This is where one of the main differences between the games takes place. Rugby league has a ‘6 tackle’ rule in which they have 6 tackles to advance the ball as far as possible. At the fifth tackle the ball is usually kicked to gain ground as possession will then be handed over. A knock on, forward pass or infringement generally results in possession being handed over to the opposing team. Rugby adopts continuously contestable possession, with players contesting the ball through rucks and malls as the game moves around the field. Kicking is more open in rugby as ‘ball in hand’ or ball possession does not hold the same importance as it does in rugby league.