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In 1895 rugby league as we know it today decided to split from the influences in London to start their own version of the sport on their own terms. Prior to this split the northerners relentlessly complained that southern clubs were over represented in the RFU and this led to many disadvantages to the working class teams up north. The disadvantage was that the working class had to make big financial sacrifices by missing work in order to play the game. You see back in the day, players didnít get paid wages to play the sport that bough many people joy. The only people who seemed to enjoy the financial spoils of the then newly rich game were the greedy administrators.
The northern clubs were not asking for much when it came to paying the players for missing work but the RFU of the day wouldnít budge. So the northerners had no choice but to bring about change by forming a whole new code. Since then the idea of paying people to play sport has thrived as people from mostly poor backgrounds can earn thousands by entertaining people on a pitch. Itís so successful the RFU of today have even adopted the idea. But the RFU back in the day would rather see our superstars and heroes playing for a pittance whilst they hoarded the money for themselves.
Today I see mostly unemployed working class people lobbying the mostly upper class government for a fairer society by occupying places throughout the United Kingdom. Like the RFU back in the day this Tory government probably isnít going to budge on working class ideas. They just want to maintain a system that mostly benefits them and not anyone else. The rugby players of the north back in the day were struggling just like the unemployed/underemployed working class of today. The solution back then was move away from the RFU and rugby league has done fine since.
On that point I think that the rugby league community should get behind the protesters at Occupy London Stock Exchange. The historians of the game should be doing their best to educate the protesters on how the working class struggles of the game were solved back in the day. The protesters in return should educate themselves about the history of the 1895 split to find solutions for the current problems that their face because I certainly donít see this government co-operating with the unemployed working class to solve their woes. Hopefully Iím wrong but so far this coalition government has done nothing to persuade me or others that they want to help us. In my experience so far theyíve helped Emma Harrison and other Ďpoverty pimpsí by giving them millions to carry on running they proven failures of so called solutions.
Perhaps the solution is that the 99% create their own government just like the northerners of 1895 created they own governing body. Then watch as the government of the 1% try to suppress the progress of the 99% by sanctioning any real movement to improve lives just like the RFU did back in the day.
Finally I hope that one day the RFU and the RFL becomes unified once again in the shape of a hybrid game of rugby featuring the best aspects of both sports. The RFU seem different from the RFU of old but I wouldnít hold your breath!
P.S. - The Damo Bit is now on twitter