Rugby union and rugby league to mix in hybrid game
It’s long been mooted the Kangaroos and Wallabies should meet on a football field in a battle of the rival rugby codes.
Many have tried to push the idea but now a movement conceived by some of the most respected minds in both rugby league and rugby union is pushing to make the idea a reality.
Former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer and player Mark Ella have come together with league great Bob Fulton to create the "Hybrid Code" – a 13-a-side game mixing elements of league and union.
While Ella says a match between Australia’s two international rugby teams is a long way off, fans will get a chance to experience the game next Wednesday when Sydney’s St Augustine’s College, renowned for its rugby union achievements, takes on the Gold Coast’s equally successful league school, Keebra Park State High.
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And the former Wallabies five-eighth believes the new concept shows the two sports can be combined successfully without a bias either way.
"This has been bandied about for years now," Ella told AAP on Tuesday.
"I was probably one of the doubters. I was as sceptical as anybody that it could work.
"But we’ve actually trialled a couple of games … and to my surprise the games went really well."
Featuring a "shot clock" style scenario where teams have only 60 seconds in attack to either score or kick before turning the ball over, Ella believes the new code could open the door to a blockbuster exhibition match between the best in either sport.
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But he was keen to emphasise his aim is not to replace either code.
"I’d like to think it is realistic but I mean the final decision is up to the guys that run the NRL and the ARU," he said of a possible super-Test between the Kangaroos and Wallabies.
"We’re not here to combine both teams or create a new sport, we’re creating an opportunity where elite rugby league players can play a competitive game against rugby guys."
Former Kangaroo Noel Cleal has recently come on board with the hybrid concept and feels the idea is a promoter’s dream.
"I’ve only come in on the back end of it but I certainly think it’s got some air and all we need now is to keep on giving it some oxygen," Cleal said.
"With the corporate dollar such a big part of rugby league and rugby union or any sport today, I can’t see any reason why this won’t have an affect on them as well.
"Kangaroos versus Wallabies game at a packed ANZ Stadium, it’d be a great concept."
For, by and about Aussies in the UK.
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