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After the schism of 1895, northern English clubs broke away from the Union to create Rugby League, forming the Northern RFU. Professionalism entered the game as these northern clubs – mostly comprised of working class men – began to pay monies to their teams. Saturday game pay was colloquially referred to as “broken time payments.” These were deemed unacceptable by the Union and its southern clubs, composed of middle and upper class players, many of whom had gone to public school, and afterward, to Oxford or Cambridge.
The Northern RFU, which soon started to use League to distinguish itself from Union, also made changes to speed up the game (i.e.; 13 players, no lineouts, downs to advance the ball, etc.)
More importantly, League, freed from the amateurism of Union, started to charge gate money for the Saturday contests. This increased its popularity as city fans came to root for their club against other neighboring cities and towns. In the first decade of the 20th Century, League also started a year end knock out championship that generated large crowds, and significant gate money.
England’s “smart set” followed Union through the proliferation of London and Richmond County-based clubs like Wasps, Saracens, Harlequins, etc. Annually, the Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge filled Twickenham in December.
As rugby developed an extensive following in Great Britain, the sport filtered into advertising for products that appealed to men. But no players appeared in these adverts since rugby union remained an amateur’s only game, eschewing any commercialization of player or club.
Early ads appeared for OXO broth, BYRRH quinine drink, Dandy Shandy Sarsaparilla, and Adbury Cocoa, using rugby players in drawings to hawk the product, and all appealing to male audiences.
Most recently, a Scotch whisky commercial with a rugby theme appeared on You Tube at https://youtu.be/Z_WEP9ZkpS4.