TO those who may have read this column before – and the tally might not be enough to fill a telephone-box, though heaven knows how many people actually know what one of those red structures actually look like – rugby union is not a fave around these here parts.

I am not knocking those legends of the game, the sinew-busting endeavours and shot-silk skills of the likes of Barrie John, Gareth Edwards, Cliff Morgan, Willie John McBride, Bill Beaumont, Serge Blanco, Michael Lynagh, Jonah Lomu, or the current stars such as Jonny Wilkinson, Dan Carter and Brian O’Driscoll.

What usually hacks me off is the disproportionate coverage accorded to the 15-a-side egg piley-onners in contrast to the minimalist treatment meted out to its rugby league counterpart.

Critics will counter otherwise, but there’s no denying the elitist establishment air that still pervades the union oval-preeners with the 13-a-side code dismissed as something inferior.

So in the week when Six Nations Championship hostilities resumed after just under a fortnight’s break, isn’t it so ironic that one of the stellar forces of rugby league, namely Great Britain international Sam Burgess, should be recruited by Bath Rugby Union Club.

Some have welcomed the oval-ball switch as a mark of ambition and design by the Bath powerhouse club, but come on, it’s an open secret that Burgess has been earmarked for fast-track promotion into the full England squad in readiness for next year’s World Cup.

It’s hardly a case of oh, what prescience, what perception, what persuasiveness on behalf of the Somerset-based outfit, though the arrival of the talismanic Burgess should swell even healthier crowds at the picturesque Recreation Ground on the banks of the River Avon and draw even more money to union coffers.

But the Burgess “kidnapping” – I know he won’t be making the trans-code move unwillingly and undoubtedly a Twickers’ fortune will find its way in to the would-be union centre’s bank balance, and who can blame him – is hardly an isolated case.

Union are serial offenders when it comes to robber-baronetcy.

Previous switchers include Jason Robinson, who starred for both England in the 2005 rugby union World Cup and the touring British Lions.

Then there was Andy Farrell, now an integral member of the England union coaching staff, and, whose son, Owen, is currently occupying the fly-half shirt for the national team.

If more evidence were needed of union’s frequent dips into the pool of league talent, there’s Chris Ashton, the Saracens winger who is an international in both codes, and Kyle Eastmond, similarly a dual international who is now with Bath after starting in league with St Helens.

Now we have Burgess, so feted at rugby league that he was lured to Australia’a NRL set-up and South Sydney Rabbitohs four years ago.

Back in Blighty with Aviva Premiership giants Bath, it’s as sure as night follows day that – barring injury – the 25-year-old Burgess will get the call to excel in the rugby union World Cup as he so dominated the GB ranks in last autumn’s rugby league World Cup.

Denis Betts, former Wigan RLFC star and current Widnes Vikings coach, said modern-day league players could hardly ignore the enticement of playing union.

Betts contended the rugby union World Cup was far more globally accepted than league – a bigger stage, a higher profile.

But when everyone’s drooling over 15-a-side exploits next year, let’s hope union devotees remember how reliant they are on league nous.