rugby union, rugby league

Grop

Senior Member
français
Hello, I understand (from what I read here for instance) the two main variants of rugby are named "rugby union" and "rugby league" in English.

(We in France call it "rugby à 15" - that's union - ou "rugby à 13" depending on the number of players involved, so we generally ignore the union/league story no matter if we like these sports).

I am a bit confused at the structure of these phrases: I think rugby is the main noun, modified by the word union (or league) which therefore acts a bit like an adjective.

Then why isn't it "union rugby" and "league rugby" ? Does someone here have an idea how it works?
 
  • panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The Rugby Union was formed in 1871 as an association of rugby clubs. Rugby played according to the Rugby Union rules is called rugby union.
    The Rugby League, previously the Northern Union, was formed in 1922 and had rules that differed from the Rugby Union rules. Rugby played according to the Rugby League rules is called rugby league.

    So rugby is a noun used attributively to modify the nouns union and league.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    So rugby is a noun used attributively to modify the nouns union and league.
    Well, yes, Panjo, but that doesn't alter the fact that the game is called rugby, not league or union, and that referring to the games of league rugby and union rugby as rugby league and rugby union is, at the very least, idiosyncratic.
     

    Grop

    Senior Member
    français
    Thanks for your answers :).

    Then the phrase "rugby union" in a sentence such as "I play rugby union" exists as a short form for "rubgy using rugby union rules", doesn't it?

    So rugby is a noun used attributively to modify the nouns union and league.
    I am not sure to understand you: are you saying it is exactly the same thing as rugby in "a rugby player" or onion in "onion soup" ?

    Edit: I feel less alone thanks to Ewie ;).

    (Note I have no trouble with the phrase "rugby union rules": rugby modifies union, which is a union of clubs, which modifies rules)
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]

    I am not sure to understand you: are you saying it is exactly the same thing as rugby in "a rugby player" or onion in "onion soup" ?

    Edit: I feel less alone thanks to Ewie ;).
    You're never alone with a ewie.

    Yes indeed, rugby in rugby union is exactly like onion in onion soup :)

    I don't feel there's anything odd about these names?
    I suppose it may have evolved through a phase when there was Rugby League rugby and Rugby Union rugby.
    Anthony: I play rugby.
    Basil: Really? What kind of rugby?
    Anthony: Rugby Union rugby, of course.
    That phase couldn't have lasted long :)
     

    fionasydney

    Member
    australia english
    Here in Australia the games are called league or union. If I said rugby, people would assume I was referring to rugby union.
    Tonight was the start of the 2008 league season and my team lost!
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    You're never alone with a ewie.:D

    Anthony: I play rugby.
    Basil: Really? What kind of rugby?
    Anthony: Rugby Union rugby, of course.
    That phase couldn't have lasted long :)
    Yes, I just find it a tad odd that the last word got chopped off, not the first word.
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Rugby union and rugby league are not the only phrases in English where the qualifier follows the noun. Clearly in many cases a French influence is detectable! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-positive_adjective
    Hullo,
    Grop, you had put your finger on it from the start; "rugby à 15" - is Rugby union - & "rugby à 13" is Rugby league.
    I appreciate now, that your question was linguistic; but it seemed like a question about the definition of these to terms to me at first glance.

    Well never mind, I learnt something with that Post-positive_adjective link, ta.
     
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