If you thought rugby was all about the Rugby Union World Cup and the Six Nations, then think again. In autumn 2016, England and Scotland will host the Rugby League Four Nations tournament. Here we provide you with a guide to everything you need to know.
What Is the Four Nations?
The Four Nations is a biannual tournament. This year, teams from Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland will don their rugby boots to compete for the title of Four Nations Champions. England, Australia and New Zealand always compete in the tournament, but the fourth place this year was reserved for the winners of the Rugby League European Championship. In 2014 that team was Scotland – hence their inclusion in this Four Nations tournament. For the next Four Nations tournament in 2018, the fourth place will be given to the best-performing team from the South Pacific.
The tournament has taken place every two years since 2009 – except for 2012, when it didn’t take place so teams could get themselves prepared to compete in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. This tournament replaces what was the Tri-Nations tournament. To date, the winners of the tournament have been either Australia or New Zealand, so fans of the home nations (England and Scotland) will be hoping they can cause an upset this year.
Rugby League vs Rugby Union
Although rugby league and rugby union are played using different codes, other than the fact that players in both codes wear rugby boots, there are many similarities, some of which have led to talks about merging the two codes. Professional players have also been known to switch between the two codes. The rules of both games have been changed in recent years with the aim of making them more spectator-friendly, although it could be argued that rugby union is still the more complicated in terms of rules, while the fast-paced and simpler nature of rugby league makes it easier for novice spectators to understand.
The Teams in the Four Nations
Having been the consistent winners of previous tournaments, it will come as no surprise that Australian and New Zealand players are the most successful in the tournament so far. Australia’s Jonathan Thurston is the tournament’s top points scorer, while Jason Nightingale from New Zealand has the honour of being the tournament’s top try scorer. The highest-scoring England player is Ryan Hall, who has played in every Four Nations tournament so far and has managed to score 8 tries in 12 games.
There is little doubt that despite the fact that England and Scotland have some great domestic rugby league sides, it will be tough for the national teams to beat the Australian or New Zealand sides.
Hopefully, this has whetted your appetite for rugby league, and following England’s disappointing showing in the Rugby Union World Cup of 2015, fans will be hoping that one of the home nations can deliver in this tournament