In the period October 2007/2008 to October 2010/2011, Sport England found that in all forms of Rugby League whether its 13-a-side, tag or touch, there has been a slow decrease in participation for people who play Rugby League at least once a week.
Recently, the Stobart Super League has come under criticism from a number of high level coaches, one of the being former England Head Coach Ellery Hanley, who said he could not see the England national side overtaking Australia on the international stage in his life time anytime soon and that the NRL is a million miles better . Another to take a swipe at the Super League was former St Helens boss, Daniel Anderson, who at the moment is leading an Exiles team in a two-game series against England, saying that the competition has “plateaued” since he left St Helens in 2008.
With the Super League seemingly taking a battering at the hands of some notable figures in Hanley and Anderson, Hull KR boss Craig Sandercock sprung to its defence on Tuesday saying that he was impressed with the competition and that it is no longer dominated by a couple of teams. The one obvious thing about all the people above is that all of them are coaches with Hanley also making 36 appearances for England in his career. So what do the players think?
London Broncos only representative in the Exiles team, Antonio Kaufusi- who has played in both the Super League and NRL- told us what he thought of the two competitions. He said, “In Super League they chance your arm a bit. They love to score tries especially long range ones as well as playing the ball around. Back home the game is mainly defence orientated, that’s the main difference I’ve seen between the two.”
St Helens Lance Hohaia, who like Kaufusi has plyed his trade in the Super League and NRL, gave us a more in depth sight into the two leagues. He said: “There’s probably more emphasis on slowing the ruck down in the NRL with a lot of teams employing wrestling coaches. It is an area that they have tried to pinpoint as a way to dominate the game. Over here it has that attacking flow, which is the main difference. I’ve noticed so far that any team can compete with the top teams in the NRL.”
Hohaia’s teammate, Iosia Soliola, added: “Besides the two referees in the NRL, it’s a bit more free flowing here in the Super League with the footie being thrown a bit more here. Definitely a lot of tries being scored here. The main difference I’ve seen is that the NRL have a lot more depth all round between the top six teams and the bottom.”
To sum up the views of the players, the stand out differences between them seem to be that the Super League is a quicker form whilst the NRL is a lot slower with the defences playing a big part.
Looking at the leagues in terms of their success at international level, the NRL would seem to be streets ahead as Australia and New Zealand dominate the world rankings. While England have produced and continue to produce some top quality players, they don’t boast the strength in depth of their rivals.
What do you think? Super League or NRL? Or is it a no-brainer?