When you hear New Zealand, you’re probably thinking about the kiwi bird and the hobbit houses. However, dedicated sports fans would likely know that it’s one of the countries where Rugby is highly regarded. With world cups in both Rugby League and Rugby Union, New Zealand boasts with quite the relationship between itself and the sport, to such an extent, that Rugby became the national sport. NZ teams are popular with their intimidating Haka performance before the beginning of every match.
Over the years, Rugby has gotten more and more popular in the country, so much that 50% of the sports fans across the nation prefer it to cricket, football, and other sports. Union has been the more acclaimed type of Rugby for more than a hundred years. However, by the looks of it, Rugby League is ready for a turnaround. League’s fanbase has been rapidly growing over the past decade. You are probably wondering what’s the big deal behind the two types of Rugby and what’s the difference between them. Let’s get straight to business.
Rugby League vs Rugby Union – What’s the Difference?
Although for some, Rugby League and Rugby Union might essentially be the same sport, there are quite a few, both major and minor, differences between them. The history of both sports goes back to the 19th century when the first matches were played, and there was just Rugby, no Union nor League. It was a sport mostly played by the working class. To put it simply – some players were too good at the game, and they thought they should be paid for the entertainment they provide. After all, they were missing work hours while they were playing on the paddock.
With professionals who got to play at official matches, the Rugby League was formed. However, other fans and players disagreed with the new changes – they wanted the sport to remain free and just for fun. That’s what evolved into the Rugby Union we know today. That’s why 1895 is the year known for Rugby’s Great Split. Although both sports share the same name, their contrast is not to be ignored. Here are all the primary differences between Rugby League and Rugby Union (click on image below to enlarge):
|RL vs RU||Rugby League||Rugby Union|
|Drop Goal Points||1||3|
Aside from the differences in points, players, and substitutions, there is something about tackles that must be noted. If you’re thinking about players piling up on one another just to get the ball, you’re thinking of Rugby Union. During a tackle in RU, the ball is contested – both teams are fighting to get the ball. In Rugby League things have a slower pace – the ball is uncontested in tackles. This means that when a player gets tackled, the other team should retreat 10m and let the team with the ball have another go.
Rugby League seems to be much more regulated than Rugby Union that, at times, can be considered quite brutal and raw. In New Zealand, there are two National Rugby teams – The Kiwis for Rugby League and All Blacks for Rugby League, and both of them are world cup winners. Although they have many differences, the game goal is essentially the same – score more points than the enemy team.
Rugby Union and Rugby League Betting in New Zealand
Many players who know the ins and outs of Rugby Union and League, and are good at predicting the outcome of the game, are interested in betting. Who’s to blame them? When a couple of bucks are in stake, it only makes watching the game more exciting and thrilling! Many platforms and websites allow you to place bets on your favourite Kiwis. However, there are dangers of the operators not being legitimate, slow, or unfair. That’s why you always need to do a little research before getting your feet in the water.
It’s not all doom and gloom! You can make it easier for yourself – you can always save your time from doing all the research and just check out a website like bestbettingsites.com/new-zealand/. Over there, you can find everything you need about which operators are trusted, what bonuses you can get, and the criteria of finding the right platform that matches your taste – as simple as that! You will see every website’s betting options, payout rates, and perhaps even find something more that you might enjoy!
Which Are the Most Popular Sports in New Zealand?
We know that the Kiwi nation has a fiery passion for both Rugby Union and Rugby League, but what are the other sports that New Zealanders love? The Land of the Long White Cloud is holding many sports in high regard – people love watching Cricket, Basketball, Rugby, Futsal, Football, Netball, Boxing, Kī-o-rahi, Tennis, and much more! Okay, but which one is the most popular? – You might still be wondering. Here are the top 10 most popular sports in New Zealand:
1. Rugby Union
2. Rugby League
8. Table Tennis
10. Water Polo
Certain groups of people heavily admire each one of these sports. For example, you can find large masses of Rugby League and Basketball fans in Auckland, while in Wellington, you can mostly find Cricket viewers. Rugby League is gaining more and more popularity. The sport has been chosen for training by 70% more students than Rugby League. Who knows, maybe in a few years RL will finally be the most popular sport in New Zealand.
Which Country Is Best at Rugby League?
It’s only expected that New Zealanders’ love and support would only make the athletes and their managers more motivated to strive for better. NZ is undeniably one of the top countries ever to play Rugby League, but where does the kiwi nation exactly fit in the world rankings? The National Rugby League team, also known as the Kiwis, has been participating in every World Cup tournament since 1954. The team won their first cup in 2008. If you’ve ever seen an official match, then you must know about the empowering Haka that New Zealanders perform in both RL and RU.
Maori traditions can be quite intimidating. However, apparently, South Africa wasn’t too afraid of the scary New Zealanders as it currently ranks 1st in the Men’s World Rugby League Rankings. The Kiwis are a runner-up at 2nd place, followed by England, Ireland, France, Wales, and more. Being second is quite a feat, considering they’re at a higher spot than the creators of the sport. The Kiwis are incredibly close to being first in the world. However, we will have to wait till the year 2021 in order to see what happens!
No matter how many new sports like Futsal are trying to take over the spotlight, New Zealanders’ fiery passion for Rugby Union and Rugby League is too strong to be extinguished. Rugby is the national sport, after all. However, a change that might occur in the future is RL, eventually becoming more popular than RU. Another interesting exchange we might see is the two sports becoming one or borrowing rules from one another in order to bring the fans together.