Rugby league was initially born out of a desire to pay its players fair compensation if they took time off work to play – something which the strictly amateur code that the group of northern teams broke away from would not allow.
However, the new organisation quickly began to evolve and develop new rules to create a game which, over time, allowed for more open play, less domination by scrums, and a more exciting visual event for spectators.
The many rules and their evolution can be daunting to spectators, like myself, who are new to the game…fortunately rugby league fans are very friendly and will happily explain the ‘play the ball’ rule to you as the game is in play!
For those who are looking for a full and detailed understanding of the rules then the laws of the game can today be found online, but in the past could be purchased in booklets issued by the Rugby Football League. These provided explanations, definitions and illustrations, and a number of them can be viewed here at the University of Huddersfield Archives and Special Collections – this illustrated 1950 guide was designed as a straightforward and entertaining guide for younger players.