Rugby is one of the highest-rated sports in Australia and has its own major league called the Australian National Rugby League. This game has been present since 1907 and holds a fascinating history that has built the foundation of a sport that it is today. It has seen several rise and downfalls in the past to make a place in the heart of people of Australia.
When it was first introduced in 1907, it grew popularity with a quick pace as the game involved skills and fast-moving players. It was established by a group of Rugby Union players who wanted the players to get paid for their worth. Since the New South Wales Rugby Union was not paying the players enough, they decided to create their own sports event. The National Rugby League was introduced with two main plans – to pay the players for playing, and to play by the rules by the Northern Union of England.
The first game of rugby under the league was played in April 1908 soon after the next break was observed when the professional New Zealand Rugby League team visited Australia for two rugby games.
When the rugby league was formed, there were three important figures who contributed majorly. They were James J Giltinan, Victor Trumper, and Henry Hoyle. Sydney’s businessman James J Gilitan was the first secretary of the new league. He personally underwrote the first tour of Australian Rugby League Kangaroos team in 1908. Vitor Truper was a cricket player who showed keen interest in the new game which encourages more sportsmen to take part in rugby. Henry Hoyle was the trade unionist and Labour politician who was responsible for making ‘the rhetoric justifying the split’ from the Rugby Union.
By the end of 1908 season, the first Australian team was formed in the National Rugby League and set sail for England to take part in Northern Union leagues. The first tour was a tough start as the Kangaroos lose 22 of total 45 matches. But the major failure of the tour was the finance—however, the Northern Union pard for the players for their returns. Their first tour may have ended up in a defeat, but it only grew the popularity of the sport even more in Australia, and Queensland Rugby Associaton was formed with games beginning in 1909.
In the year 1909, the real clash between the two codes took shape which brought all the rugby fans to the series of four matches between the Rugby League Kangaroos and Rugby Union Wallabies. The Wallabies returned from a successful tour from England, unlike the Kangaroos, but both the teams played to their best conceding two wins each. Later in the year, the England team toured Australia. This was only a beginning for the popularity of the game and the league in Australia that skyrocketed in the coming decades. This growth helped the players and the league financially, which allowed it to grow to a loving league of Australia that it is today.