We have to work harder than anyone else – so stop comparing us to rugby union

Jon Dutton Rugby League World Cup rugby union SWpix
Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

1Rugby League World Cup boss Jon Dutton wants the sport to build upon the success of the Commonwealth Games and Women’s Euros but says comparisons to rugby union need to end.

Speaking on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast, Dutton set out his hopes for the tournament, while admitting that the endless comparisons of league and union have proved hugely counter-productive.

“We’ve seen people really get on board and enjoy the Women’s Euros and Commonwealth Games and we want to be the next cab off the rank,” Dutton told Love Rugby League.

“The Commonwealth Games had a big budget and a big team and big challenges. We have the big challenges but without the big budget and without the big team.”

WORLD CUP: Five teams could potentially lift the trophy

Jon Dutton: Stop comparing rugby league to rugby union

Dutton’s positivity for a sport and tournament that he saw postponed 12 months ago is infectious, but he admits there is one thing that drives him up the wall.

“We are different to other sports,” Dutton said. “The comparison to rugby union infuriates me constantly.

“Rugby league and rugby union are two different games with wonderful athletes within their own rights. There should never be comparison between the two. That really does frustrate me.

“Union people might say its part of the establishment with the way it was born and its journey. We are a sport predominantly played and headquartered in the north of England. We just have to work harder than anybody else. That’s been part of the deal for us. We just have to work harder than other people. 

“I accept that and I would love it to change, but we will only change by being relentless. Sometimes I think we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. The reality is that we have a sport that on the field there isn’t much you can pick fault with.

“We have so much to be proud of and at times we need to galvanise our frustration and anger about how we think we have been poorly treated in other areas and use it to make a difference.”

PODCASTJon Dutton on masterminding the best Rugby League World Cup yet & hopes for revitalising the international game

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app and podcast


  1. Naïve at best, Rugby Union is a sport ridden with elitism, racism, class oppression, collaboration with the Nazis, brutality, and worse in it’s rich and disgusting history. In it’s one sided war, driven by Establishment elitism and class oppression, against the Northern Football Union, subsequently Rugby Football League, they have driven the agenda, relentlessly, without pause from August 30th 1895, I assume they read of it in their papers the day after the vote in Huddersfield, and spat out their toast over breakfast.

    Our national media is rife with bias, the Daily Mail contends sports like table tennis and UFC are more popular than Rugby League. Every single solitary broadcast on the BBC, other outlets are equally culpable, you will hear the immortal phrase “for thos of you watching for the first time”, well I’ve news for them, there is not one person alive on this planet who predates the creation of the sport. Not a single person! Yet every single broadcast you hear it. Are the RFL legally obliged to allow them to say it?

    The only personality I’ve ever heard freely speak on the subject comparing the two is Jamie Jones Buchanan, who was brutal in his views on Union, you see other players bursting to speak out, but are they gagged? Look at the Union World Cup, it turns out England got knocked out because of a player who wasn’t on the pitch, then the team threw away a lead, and lost the next match in which he wasn’t selected was a former NRL star! He was good, not that good he could affect matches from the stands!

    My ex wife, from near Twickenham, summed it up for me best, I’d taken the kids to the park to run off their energy, when I came back she had a game on, one look it was Bath vs Leicester, “what’s wrong with this darling?”, it was the good days, “it’s slow, boring, all they do is kick it, stand about, and it’s very confusing? Where is all the tackling, try scoring, the very handsome young men in their…”, that was her msp for League, “Erm, that’s Rugby Union, it’s a different sport altogether”. So a short history lesson ensues, keeping the politics out of it for the moment. “So, if I understand it right, League is for fit, healthy, really talented players, and Union is for fat old blokes like you? This is awful, when is there a proper match on?”. We had another longer chat, this time with the politics, the reasons why, she was a bit taken aback Union is more popular and attracts more money, “but it’s awful compared to the kind you like!”. I told her, opinion is divided, those with the money and power lean the Union way.

    We should focus on the differences, the fight to defeat class oppression, inclusivity of League, the brutality of the Union war, the superiority of ball handling skills, the increase in fitness levels required to play, how on a level playing field in Australia League dwarfs Union, but you’ll never hear that from the BBC, and for reasons that escape me never from the RFL.

    They can’t, rather won’t, even promote it as the original rugby world cup, played since 1954!

    Anyone want to take a bet on how many times we’ll hear “for those of you watching for the first time…” comments we’ll hear in the World Cup? I’ll go for three in each free to air televised match in the UK.

  2. More expansion in south of France. Starting merging the whole of Elite One with the English system. And create a tournament in the style of Pro 14.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.