COMMENT: Any Given Monday (Thursday edition)
In August, 1895, representatives of 21 rugby clubs walked into the swish George Hotel in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, to discuss the issue of broken-time payments for players who missed work through match commitments or injuries sustained while playing rugby.
They walked out with a new northern league that would compensate its players, which would soon morph into a new sport altogether.
The two rugbys, union and league, coexisted in hostility for 100 years until similarly strained meetings in August 1995 saw union throw off the shackles of "shamateurism" to become a professional game itself.
The one-way flow of players converting from union to league was almost immediately halted but old divisions remained, particularly around class and, in England's case, geography.
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As the world reels from a pandemic unparalleled in our lifetimes, it is at least worth asking the question: Is it time for the administrators of these two great games to walk into a hotel again (after the lockdown, of course) and walk out with a single sport.
While the barriers to do so would be massive – generations of bitter history, broadcasting deals and different rules among the most obvious – the need to do so might be even greater.
The world faces months without professional sport and possibly years of spectator-less sport.
A Guardian article headlined "Enough of this epic delusion: coronavirus makes sport in front of fans a long way off", quoted a pandemic expert who believed that even if professional sports leagues returned, stadia would remain empty for "months and months – and perhaps even next year and beyond".
That is going to bite hard.
There is no guarantee broadcasting rights will return to the levels they are now, and clubs without the revenue lifeline of ticket and concession sales could go to the wall.
Take the NRL. There was a reason the best league competition in the world continued its "delusion" long after it was sensible – it couldn't afford not to. It has a rainy day fund suitable for a light drizzle, but if it looks outside right now it'll see it is pouring. In Australia, they are already talking about which clubs will fall over first.
The only reason rugby is in better shape is because its international game remains strong, the World Cup is a cash machine and a bunch of sugar daddies in France and England are prepared to run rugby clubs as loss leaders.
In the south, and Australia in particular, Super Rugby is close to a basket case.
For financial reasons alone, having all the talent playing a single code makes perfect sense.
It's not as if the games couldn't benefit from an injection of the best things the other codes have to offer. Union would be a better game with a tad more space and the ball in play more; league would be a better game if the "battle" for possession wasn't divisible by six.
There would be years of trial and error combining the codes into a single rule book but even as separate entities, league and union look nothing like they did 30 or 40 years ago. They have both been sports capable of adapting to the needs of the day.
A single rugby code with a global season and showpiece club/franchise competitions in both hemispheres would make for compelling "content", as we like to say now.
I'm going to stick my neck out and say it'll never happen, the walls blocking compromise are too high, but if ever there was a time to talk about the possibility, it's now.