A simple guide to understanding rugby league
Rugby League is one of Australia's most loved and popular sports, and competitions like the annual State of Origin can divide the nation for weeks on end.
For the uninitiated, Rugby League is a 40-minute full contact sport with 13 players on each team. The idea is to get the ball to the opposition's goal line within six tackles. Each team is responsible for defending their own goal line.
There are several ways to score during a match
1. A try
Downward pressure must be applied to the ball which must be placed over the goal line. For successfully completing this manoeuvre without knocking the ball forward, the team is awarded four points.
2. Conversion kick/penalty kick
After scoring a try, the team is given an opportunity to increase their lead by a further two points by kicking the ball over the crossbar.
3. Drop goal/field goal
A one-pointer kick which clears the crossbar from anywhere on the field. They are commonly used when time is of the essence and the score is tight.
Originating in England in 1895, rugby league burst onto the scene as an alternative to rugby union.
The sport was popularised in Australia by Dally Messenger, who stunned crowds with his skills and individual talent. His contribution to rugby league was honoured with the introduction of the Dally M awards presented to premier players for outstanding achievement.
Since 1910, rugby league has been the leading winter sport in Queensland and New South Wales and has developed a strong following elsewhere in the country, thanks to the annual Telstra Premiership National Rugby League competition.
15 Australian teams and one New Zealand team compete in weekly matches throughout the season for ladder points and a chance to compete in the grand final.
In 1980 the inaugural State of Origin competition took place. The annual clash is a best of three competition, where players go head-to-head playing for the state they represented in their very first game of senior rugby league. The Queenslanders (Maroons) have always dominated the competition, but New South Wales (The Blues) don't go down without a fight winning 13 of the 34 series played.
Now that you have a better understanding of rugby league, why not choose a team to support and deck yourself out in official superfan merchandise?