What is the difference between Rugby League and Rugby Union?

The main difference between Rugby League and Rugby Union lies in what happens in the tackle situation. In Union when a player is tackled (Their progress is physically halted by the opposition) the ball is recycled by a ruck (if the ball is on the ground) or by a maul (if the ball is held up off the ground). One recycling of the ball is called a phase and there is no limit to the number of phases as long as a team keeps possesssion of the ball. In League when a player with the ball is tackled the referee will halt play and it is restarted when the tackled player stands, places the ball on the ground and rakes it back with his foot to the player (dummy-half) behind them. The opposition must retreat 10 metres from the play-of the-ball except for two markers who line up in front of the player of the ball. The team in possession can recycle the ball 5 times in this manner but if they are tackled with the ball a 6th time then the ball is handed over to the opposition.

In rugby union the shoulder charge is illegal, players must use their arms in a tackle, whereas in rugby league a shoulder charge is a legitmate form of tackle. In rugby league a tackle stops play but in rugby union play continues with a ruck or maul where players from either side lock together and push against those of the other side for territorial advantage or for better position over the ball. This requires players to be bound together (holding on to each other), this is why they must use their arms in the tackle.

Another significant difference is what happens when the ball goes into touch (the ball crosses the sideline, leaving the field of play). In Union play is restarted with a lineout whereas in League play is restarted with a scrum. A lineout means players of each side stand in line perpendicular to the sideline and next to one another and the ball is pitched from the sideline up between the 2 lines. Players jump up for possession of the ball. There can be up to eight players per team involved in the lineout, the number is determined by the team throwing in. A scrum is the locking of a group of players from each side and their pushing as a team against the group from the other team. As the ball is dropped down between the 2 teams on the ground, each side pushes against the other in order that the ball passes under their feet to their half-back/scrum half.

If the ball is forced in goal by the defending team then a drop-kick is taken to restart play in both codes, however in rugby league the drop-kick is taken from the goal line but in rugby it is taken from the 22 metre line. In rugby union, if the ball is carried into the in-goal area by the defending team and then forced or put dead (over the dead ball line or into touch in the in-goal area) then a scrum is awarded to the attacking team 5 metres from the goal line.

Number-wise: a Rugby Union team consists of 15 players and a Rugby League team has 13 players (eliminating the two flankers from the side of the scrum).

Rugby Union points: a try is worth 5 points, a conversion is 2 points, a penalty goal is 3 points and a drop-goal is 3 points.

Rugby League points: a try is worth 4 points, a conversion is 2 points, a penalty goal is 2 points and a drop-goal is 1 point.

rugby union differences from league (rules)

Union: unlimited tackles, League: 6 before turn over

Union: pass the ball along the ground to dummy half, League: get up and roll under foot.

Union: when ball is kicked out there is throw ins. League: either team can receive another set of 6 depending on what's happened.

Union: 5 point try, 7 if converted, 2 point field goal, 3 point penalty goal. (Field goal is 3 points)

League: 4 point try, 6 if converted, 1 point field goal, 2 point penalty goal.

Roughly 2 more people on field at once in union than league. Numbers for positions are different.

Rugby Union is more tactical than Rugby League and there is more room for error.

there are many more differences than people think and to many to list.

Rugby Union restarts with a scrum or a lineout. Rugby League restart normally with a dummy scrum or a tap and play.

Rugby union has rucks and mauls. Rugby League restart after a tackle with a dummy scrum

Rugby Union has 15 players. Rugby League has 13. Rugby League has 2 forwards less than union. The flank or loose forwards numbers 6 &7.

League and union forwards use their physicality in different ways; league forwards act more as individuals while union forwards combine to work as a unit. Union forwards expend more energy at the tackle-ball situation and at set piece (scrum and lineout) and league forwards take more hit-ups and make more tackles.