Over the past ten years most of the rugby league and rugby union players have become full time professionals earning over $100,000 (australian). The top elite players now earn between $500,000 and $1000000 including sponsorship and endorsements. This means that most players no longer work. Many players are being poached by English and French teams because they can offer higher contracts. (The guy in question with the tooth is a part time professional playing state league football )
With this trend we have seen a dramatic increase in antisocial behaviour and drug related problems. To counteract this trend the clubs are now sending young players back to university to study as well as making all their players participate in coaching clinics around the country. Players are also becoming more active in charity work and hospital visits.
Our society is becoming less tolerant of the drunken actions of these players.
These guys are tough, extremely tough in a different kind of way to NFL players.
A rugby game lasts for 80 minutes and you are only allowed a limited number of substitutions (around 10 in rugby league, dont quote me on that ,and unlimited substitution if you are bleeding) meaning over half your players have to play the full game. They dont have TV or coaching timeouts. The time only stops if the referee calls time off for injury. These guys weigh between 95 and 120 kilograms (220 and 260 pounds) and have unbelievable strength and aerobic fitness. If they are any heavier they are just to big slow and cumbersome to be useful. Everyone has to be extremely fit.
On PTI today I noticed Mike Wilbon refered to rugby players as 5' 8" 170pound midgets who are dwarfed by americans like himself ( he claimed his 6'3" 240lb stature made him more imposing) and are just Crocodile Dundee wannabees. If he ever faced an elite player head on he would wind up soiling himself before he was impaled.
I have played first grade rugby union and Aussie rules in country NSW and believe me, their is not a single SOFT guy out there. If you are wearing head gear or a protective guard it is like a red flag to a bull. Even the girls have teams in these football codes and they are equally as tough. A lot of Australians go to work on Mondays and Tuesdays very sore from the weekend footy.
The title of toughest of all Australian footballers belongs to the Aussie Rules players of Queenstown Tasmania who play on a gravel oval. Not grass or turf, but gravel.
"After the match, trainers move from player to player with a wire brush and a bottle of Friars Balsam. Stones are scraped from elbows and knees before disinfectant is applied. Some Queenstown players spend the entire season with weeping sores. No sooner does a scab look like healing than it sticks to the player's trouser leg. If the scab does survive until the next match, it's usually knocked off in the first quarter. No wonder the west coast of Tasmania is known for breeding tough footballers
Having said all that I would have dearly loved to have put the pads and helmet on and lined up as a linebacker or strong safety and T-boned any running back / receiver who came my way. All football codes are tough and that is why we are drawn to them with the passion we all exhibit.
What would life be without football of some sort? Why we might as well be living in cleveland or cincinatti.
If any one wants some help with finding some quality information on league or union just drop me a message. Also NCsteeler is a proud rugby union fan and he helps a mate run a union forum site.
Here are some links that may interest a few
Rugby League http://www.nrl.com.au/
Rugby Union http://aru.rugby.com.au/
Aussie Rules http://www.afl.com.au/