Rugby Union and Rugby League both share basic rules and use a similar shaped ball. The aim of both games is to score more points than the opposition during the 80 minutes of play through tries, conversions, penalty goals and drop goals.
With both sports, goals are scored when the ball is kicked between the two posts and over the cross-bar. This can happen either during play, or as a result of a penalty. A try is scored when the ball is touched down either on or beyond the opposition team’s goal-line. Once a try is scored, the team has the opportunity to score a goal.
In both Rugby Union and Rugby League, the ball can be carried forward in three different ways; by kicking it, by a player running with it, or as a result of a set-piece. The ball can also be passed from hand to hand between teammates, however it can only be done in a backward or sideways direction, it cannot be passed forwards although it can be kicked forwards. If the ball is dropped in a forward direction it will result in a scrum, essentially re-starting the game.
Only the player holding the ball can be tackled. This is done in attempt to stop the player moving forward, bringing him to the ground. Play will re-start with the ball transferred to another player.
The playing positions for both Rugby Union and Rugby League are divided into “backs” and “forwards.” The backs are usually faster and do more running, scoring most of the points. However, the forwards are involved in the more physical part of the game and usually will do more tackling.
The big difference between Rugby Union and Rugby League is that Rugby League has moved away from some of its rules for possession to be contested. When the ball goes into touch in Rugby League, a scrum will restart the play, where as in Rugby Union it would be contested through a line-out. The less focused the players are on contesting possession means there are less stops of play in Rugby League. Therefore, the ball is usually in play for 50 of the 80 minutes, a opposed to approximately 35 minutes in Rugby Union. As the ball is in play more, and there are 13 players as opposed to 15, it is usually thought that Rugby League is more physically tiring than Rugby Union.