Ever since Rugby was brought into the professional era, derbies have risen around the United Kingdon in both Rugby League and Rugby Union. These Rugby Rivalries have grown so much, leagues pre-plan the derby dates in advance. Here, we’ll look at some of the biggest derbies in both Rugby League and Rugby Union.
Rugby Nation Derbies
In Rugby Union, there’s no bigger derby than England v Wales. Geographically, the two Nations are direct rivals and history suggests that the English have oppressed the Welsh throughout the ages. The Welsh love nothing more than beating the English considering the huge population differences between the two Nations. The rivalry is perfectly summed up by Stereophonics’ song “As Long As We Beat the English” which perfectly outlines the dislike between both Nations.
The two Nations have played each other 132 times with England winning 62 of those, Wales winning 58 and 12 draws. The two sides play each other every year in the annual Six Nations tournament which is contested by the Home Nations, France and Italy. The game is massively built up during the week leading up to the game by both sets of fans and it always lives up to expectations.
Staying on the subject of Wales, the biggest Welsh derby is the Swansea-Neath Ospreys against the Llanelli Scarlets. These two sides are geographically next to each other and share a deep hatred towards one another. They are separated by only a bridge and the matches have been very heated over the past few years.
England’s Rugby Club Derbies
Moving on to England, England’s biggest derby is Bath v Leicester, which is comparable in size to football’s North London Derby. Although geographically they’re not the closest, the two sides have been the biggest rivals since when Rugby was just an amateur’s game. It’s famous for the number of red cards are shown in each match where there are usually mass brawls.
Another huge rivalry is England V Scotland. Every year, these two Nations play each other in the Six Nations Championship to compete for the Calcutta Cup. The two sides have played 137 times in history with England winning 75 of those ties, Scotland winning 43 and 19 draws. Both sets of fans hate each other passionately but crowd trouble is extremely rare in Rugby Union.
In Rugby League, one of the biggest Rugby Rivalries is St Helens vs Wigan. This rivalry started in 1895 when the two sides formed Rugby League after breaking away from Rugby Union. These two sides have played each other on 325 competitive occasions with St Helens winning 123 of those, Wigan winning 185 and 17 draws. This Rugby Derby is so well known, the league reserves a spot every year on Boxing Day for the two sides to battle it out in one of the oldest rivalries in England. Problems with the fans are rare, although the fans passionately hate each other. Other huge rivalries in Rugby League are Leeds vs Bradford, Hull vs Hull Kingston Rovers and Warrington Wolves vs Widnes Vikings.