A true hybrid: One rugby code to rule them all

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru


105 Have your say

    The greatest rugby league team on the planet is the Kangaroos. The most exceptional rugby union team on Earth is the All Blacks.

    Both sides may lose from time to time, and may not win every World Cup in their respective codes, yet they’re both the best at what they do.

    Unfortunately, neither team can claim to be the best rugby team.

    When this debate comes up the usual comments are made: you can’t compare the two codes.

    This thinking is wrong. Yes, there are differences, but the basics are the same.

    Once you get past that thinking, you have to put up with the bias that is evident in both sports. The arrogance of union “that’s not real rugby” or comments from league fans “watching union is like watching paint dry”.

    But the facts remain that both teams play a version of rugby, both are the best in their respective codes, but neither team can claim to be the best if they have not beaten the other.

    You don’t climb the mountain K2 and claim to have climbed the highest mountain in the world.

    Apparently, the New Zealand Rugby Union have been contacted by Hybrid Rugby about a game against the Kangaroos just after the 2019 World Cup.

    However, NZRU chairman Steve Tew has reportedly killed the notion, which likely has something to do with the nature of the hybrid match.

    It consists of playing league in one half and union in the other, with a clock dictating how long each team has with the ball. This notion seems ridiculous.

    If a hybrid game is to take place, then it truly needs to be a hybrid.

    A true hybrid match
    Firstly, blend the field markings, with the 40-metre line instead of union’s ten. Also, remove league’s 30-metre line, keep the 22 of union, and maintain league’s ten metres form the tryline, while including the five-metre markings for scrums.

    On the sidelines, keep union’s five and 15-metre line spread for lineouts.

    Secondly, keep union’s contested scrums, line-outs (with two to six players involved) their blood bin, head knocks and shoulder-charge regulations.

    When it comes to kicking, include the union kick-off, keep league’s line dropout, but a kick that goes out on the full in general play – regardless of location on the field – would be taken back to the position of the kick, where a turnover and a rugby league play the ball would take place.

    A kick-off or line dropout going out on the full would result in a penalty. A 40-20 would become a 40-22 with a line-out to follow.

    Most importantly, I would keep league’s scoring system, which is neater and fairer – three points for a drop goal and penalty are a bit much.

    I would also only have 13 players on the field, allowing for seven substitutions, which opens up space on the ground that you don’t get during a union game.

    Both codes could adopt these rules, however the tackle and ruck are where both games differ. So do you go with the unlimited ruck and maul of union or the limited play the ball of league?

    I suggest only six tackles, as in league, but when a player is tackled, he must release the ball backward – just as in union. The defending team (apart from two markers) are to retreat five metres (it’s last legs in union and ten metres in league).

    The attacking team can still protect the ball as they do in union, but only the defending tacklers can make a play for the ball. At present in union, all defenders who join the ruck area can challenge for the ball as long as they don’t come in from the side.

    Under these guidelines, if a player was not involved in the tackle, then they could move to the marker position or retreat the five metres, but they could not make a play for the ball.

    Don’t worry; I know you are scratching your heads. I also know that other rules would need to be sorted out. I most certainly wouldn’t keep the law that saw Sonny Bill Williams sin-binned, and a penalty try awarded to France. That was downright crazy.

    No doubt, both sets of fans are pulling their hair out at my suggestions so far. I get it. If you’re a mad-passionate league fan who hates union or vice versa, then you don’t want anything to do with the other.

    That thinking is fine, though that takes me back to my earlier point. If you win the World Cup in your code, you will always know that there is still a champion team out there ready to challenge you.

    Until the day the Kangaroos meet the All Blacks in a serious hybrid match, fans will always wonder who the best is. Wouldn’t it be good if there were only o form of rugby, which pitted the best against each other?

    Have Your Say

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    The Crowd Says (105)

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am
      Steve said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report


      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 9:19am
      Big Daddy said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      I am sure the writer is running out of things to write about.
      I notice you have Rookie against your name. Let’s leave it at that

    • November 15th 2017 @ 9:30am
      Justin Kearney said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      The total lack of excitement about this idea is palpable

      • November 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm
        Jacko said | November 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        No excitement because you only have 3 inches…Yet you imagine it is 4

    • Roar Rookie

      November 15th 2017 @ 9:32am
      Dogs Boddy said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      The first contested scrum will take out the League players right there.What about mauls, you didn’t mention those.

      You seem to have put a lot of thought into this, but I can’t ever see it working. Firstly both rules and ways of playing tend to get ingrained when you do the same thing week in week out for years on end. This would end up being a penalty fest as everyone continues to breach the muddled rules.

      Let’s just live with the fact these are two very different games. Both have their merits and issues, and both are great games to follow.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 9:54am
        Maestro said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Can someone tell me where the $50m was going to come from for that other hybrid game . I saw the headline and yawned…

    • November 15th 2017 @ 9:57am
      Peter Phelps said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      “It consists of playing league in one half and union in the other, with a clock dictating how long each team has with the ball. This notion seems ridiculous.”

      It may seem ridiculous but this is not the first time it has been proposed or played. Wigan RLFC played Bath RU club in a Clash of the Codes match in 1996. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash_of_the_Codes_(rugby)

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 10:02am
      Nat said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      I will put my league bias aside for the point of discussion. The rules you proposed sound very similar to the league days of not so long ago, therefore, may favour league players more but Union boys could get fitter to withstand the extra miles and League boys would need to get stronger for the scums and line outs but they would find an equilibrium there. Kick-offs, fine, contested kick-offs are a thing already just with more accuracy with a drop kick. Limited tackles and 5m defensive lines, IMO, make a more attractive brand to watch and eliminates the technicalities of a ruck n maul and ensuing penalties.

      I would watch it but as a novelty one-off game it would be messy. If a competition proper happened, (not that any governing body would wish to lose the money, power or pride) it could be interesting.