American Football vs. Rugby

American Football
Rugby

American football is a game played between two teams and consists of 11 players in each of the two teams, with unlimited substitutions. American football is a game of intense physical play with complex strategy to score points by advancing the ball to the opponent team’s end-zone.

Rugby is best described as a blend of the contact of American football, the running of soccer, and the transition of basketball. It is a game played between two teams with 15 players in each, played on a rectangular field, with the object being to run with an oval ball across the opponent’s goal line or kick it through the upper portion of the goal posts.

Both the games differ in a variety of parameters.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart

American Football

User Rating (1267):

Rugby

User Rating (1212):
Time limit Four 15-minute quarters, with a half-time intermission after the second quarter. The game clock stops frequently between plays. Two 40 minute halves with a ten minute half time. Clock only stops for prolonged injuries.
Object of the Game Object of the game is to score points by carrying the ball beyond the opponents touch line. (Each such instance is called a touch down). Also scoring by kicking it between the goal post called a Field Goal. Object of the game is to carry the ball and place the ball down on the opponents touch line (called a Try) or kick it between the goal posts.
Number of players 11 players on the field at any point of time Team consists of 15 players for Union
Major League National Football League (NFL) Major comps include"(domestic) super 15, Aviva prem, RFU, top 14, Nat league 1 & 2, rugby pro d2, ITM cup, currie cup, rebo pro d12, super 10, shut shield, NSW suburb rugby(+more) (internation) RWC, four nat, six nat, pacific nat, asian 5 nat(+more)
Countries USA Worldwide
Substitution Unlimited Up to 7 substitutions allowed (depending on the tournament rules) Once pulled out cannot be substituted back in unless there is an injury and no other substitutes.
Player Size NFL player brandon banks 70 kg. (155 lbs.) was at one point 67 kg. (149 lbs.) is the lightest NFL player since 2010 while the largest NFL player was 162.3kg (358 lbs.) The largest running back is 122kg (268 lbs.) Brandon jacobs. The lightest rugby player to ever play international rugby was Gordon McGhie at just 58kg. largest rugby international bill cavubati (165.3kg) his heaviest at 201.7kg (442.5lbs).
Ball A prolate spheroid which is about 11 inches (28 cm) long and about 22 inches (56 cm) in circumference at the center and weighs around 0.875lbs. A prolate spheroid shaped football. The accepted international size is called the "size 5" and is approximately 27 cm long and 60 cm in circumference at its widest point and weighs around 1lb.
Current World Champions Seattle Seahawks (2013-2014) New Zealand All Blacks (Rugby Union World Cup)
Number of Umpires / Referees 3 to 6 referees plus booth review 4 referees including TMO (television match official) who declares tries valid or invalid via cameras for tries which aren't visible for the ref or caused after an illegal infringement and 2 assistant referees.
Field Length: 120 yards (109.728 meters) in total (100 yards (91.44 meters) of playing field, with two 10-yard (9.144 meters) end zones) Width: 160 feet (48.768 meters) 100 (120m if end zone "goal area" is included) meters long by 70 meters wide with 20-meter in try area.
Protective gear Helmet, Shoulder/Chest pad/protector, upper leg padding and mouthguard are rightfully required. Players are only allowed modest padding on Head, Shoulders, Collarbone etc. Only a mouthguard is required.
Major Tournaments NFL Playoffs Rugby World Cup
What is it? American football is a game with intense physical aggression with players that have speed, power, and explosiveness that requires helmets and padding to be worn. Rugby is a game with intense physical aggression and necessary endurance that only requires a mouth guard for play. Certain possesions require speed and agility, others require strength.
Average contact per game Average tackles per game per player: 4 with highest recorded at 4600lbs (by sports science), consistent contact away from the ball with downfield blocking with contact as severe as a tackle. Average tackles per game per player: 16 - Average hit impact: 1600lbs. of force (recorded from members of the LA rugby team by sports science)

Contents: American Football vs Rugby

edit Differences in rules of Rugby and American Football

American football: Each team has 11 players on the field at one time, with unlimited substitutions. Each team gets three time-outs per half. Play begins with a kickoff. Two teams line up opposite each other; they are usually lining up a “play from scrimmage.” Receiving player may run with ball or may pass it. Each team has to move the ball at least 10 yards within 4 downs. If they fail to do so, other team gets the chance. If they succeed they get 4 new tries to move the ball 10 yards further. The main object is to score points by advancing the pointed oval-shaped ball into the opponent’s team end-zone.

Rugby: A Rugby team consists of 15 players, divided into forwards and backs. Forwards are often larger and stronger players of the team having their main job to win the possession of the ball. The backs are usually smaller, faster, and more agile and exploit the ball possessions. The match begins with a kickoff and the teams compete for possession. The player of the receiving team may run with the ball, or kick it, or pass it to any other player laterally or behind him. Opponent player may tackle the ball carrier at any time. Other than tackles, scrummages, rucks, mauls, and lineouts, no other contact is allowed. Even dangerous tackles are not permitted and are penalized severely. Once tackled, the player must release the ball immediately so play may continue. Once a team has crossed the opposing team’s goal line and touched the ball to the ground, a try is scored (five points). After each try, the scoring team has the opportunity to score two more points with a conversion.

edit Origin of rugby and football

American football is said to have developed from Rugby. British colonists from Canada are said to have brought rugby to the Americans. At that time the two were not as differentiated as now.

The origin of Rugby in England goes back long into the 19th century and even earlier. In 1800's formalities were introduced to football rules in the seven major public schools of England.Handling the ball was permitted in football in the early 1800's when players were allowed to take a mark and then a free kick. The Rugby Football Union had been formed in 1871 by representatives of 21 clubs - all of which were located in southern England and most were within London. By the early 1890's rugby was widespread and well over half the RFU's clubs were in northern England. The working classes of the north of England and South Wales were particularly taken with rugby over football (soccer).

All sports historians place the beginning of American Football from Rugby. It is said that the Britishers got the game to Canada in late 19th century which then spread to America. Here many variations were made to the game and in 1892 the roots of professional American football can be traced. From here on this game started getting its own identity.

edit Playing Field

American football is played on a rectangular field 120 yards (110 meters) long by 53 1/3 yards (49 meters) wide. Near each end of the field is a goal line; they are 100 yards apart. A rugby league field is very similar, it is 120 metres long and about half that in width, there is a line across the field every ten metres.

edit Contact Sport

The most significant differences between American and Rugby football are that in Rugby all players are allowed to handle the ball and any sort of blocking, forward passing, and time-outs are not allowed. Unlike American football, in case of Rugby any kind of screening and obstruction to players who do not have the ball is not allowed. This is the main reason why Rugby is much safer than American football. Unlike American football, only lateral passes are legal, and running and kicking can advance the ball.  In American Football, one forward pass per down is permitted, so long as it originates behind the line of scrimmage.

edit Protective Equipment in rugby and football

In Rugby, there is lack of hard protective equipments such as helmet and padding. That’s why in case of Rugby players are also taught to tackle with personal safety in mind. In football, hard tackles are allowed which is why there is padding.

edit Schedule and Cost

Rugby provides for a more flexible schedule and less costly athletic team than professional football, hockey, or other options.

edit Control

In case of Rugby, players are concerned more about retaining ball possession rather than gaining yardage as in case of American football.

edit Scoring

A touchdown is the American football equivalent of rugby league's try. Ironically, a try requires the ball to be 'touched down' to the ground, whereas a touchdown doesn't. In American football it is sufficient for the player carrying the ball to cause the ball to enter the end zone (in-goal area) while still in bounds, by carrying it in or holding the ball in or through the imaginary plane of the goal line. In rugby league the ball must be pressed to the ground in the in-goal area. An American football touchdown scores 6 points and a rugby league try is now worth 4 points. In rugby union a try is worth 5 points, the conversion is worth 2.

edit Football vs Rugby Strategy

American football is a game of set moves and counter moves (similar to chess). On the other hand, Rugby is a more free-flowing spontaneous game.

edit Geographical differences

As the name suggests, American football is played in North America while rugby is played across the globe with prominence in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"American Football vs Rugby." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Jan 2015. < >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Top 5 Comparisons
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »

Comments: American Football vs Rugby

Comments via Facebook

Anonymous comments (15)

February 3, 2014, 9:14am

I really don't get why everyone here is subtly putting football down and lifting rugby up on a pedestal? I am not American - I come from a nation that plays rugby, albeit not as big to us in the way football is to the Americans. I do, however, love football. But who are you to say that football players are 'less tough' than rugby players? Football is really dangerous as well, not what I'd call a wuss' sport. Each sport is their own, I don't get why people are saying rugby is 'more special' than football. That is all subjective.

— 220.✗.✗.18
6

February 14, 2011, 11:18pm

Game flow is important. As American football tends to be organised in very violent in small bursts, rugby is more a game of attrition - 40 minutes of almost non-stop play. American football has more dangerous tackles, hence the padding, but I personally find rugby better to watch as I find the breaks between plays in American football infuriating.

— 68.✗.✗.179
6

March 11, 2013, 12:26am

for those of you saying AF is for pussies i play both and football seems to hurt a lot more

— 47.✗.✗.10
4

April 12, 2014, 11:35am

There is much more technique in tackling in rugby than in AF but they are both great sports-better than soccer football!!

— 78.✗.✗.240
3

July 31, 2013, 2:57pm

Jonah Lomu Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in) Weight 120 kg (265 lb; 18 st 13 lb) a former New Zealand rugby union player is comparable or certainly fitter than most quarterbacks even the likes of Peyton Manning. I certainly would like to see any NFL player play a full game of rugby with out the stoppages and time outs. In all honestly thay could not do it. In all fairness you can not really compare rugby to gridiron. They're two different games although gridiron has its roots in rugby today it is a different game.

— 50.✗.✗.4
1

March 25, 2014, 4:46pm

Actually the heaviest football player ever was 410 pounds(Aaron Gibson)thank you very much.

— 107.✗.✗.89
0

October 29, 2013, 12:25pm

Lol according to sports station if Ray Lewis tackled someone without any gear on he would shatter their ribs. So dont even say football players are weak NFL FTW.

— 65.✗.✗.5
0

February 5, 2011, 10:28pm

I don't understand how someone can say this is a biased report. They are simply facts on each sport. You perceive it based on what you like more to be biased towards that sport, it is pretty objective in nature.

— 96.✗.✗.60
0

April 12, 2014, 11:32am

Also the hit up power stats were recorded by the LA rugby team but the AF stats by an international team.

— 78.✗.✗.240
-1

February 3, 2014, 9:21am

Lol you jerkwads insulting football sound really immature. (not an American)

— 220.✗.✗.36
-1

December 18, 2013, 4:20pm

NFL players would not be able to tackle harder or be more physical than a rugby player in a rugby match given the ruleset in that sport.As well,they would be afraid of breaking their necks with faulty techniques and scrummaging.Simple they wont be good enough to play rugby generally.Similarly rugby players wont be top dogs at nfl...sure many will be able to succeed but wont usurp specialists in that sport.Also.NFL players are massively pumped up with steroids and growth hormones,etc...some rugby players as well but not many...overall take your pick....i prefer rugby as it is far more fluid,faster and flows better.NFL seems very mechanised and stop start.

— 197.✗.✗.157
-1

August 20, 2013, 4:00pm

Rugby players are much fitter but still have explosive power. From what I can tell, AF players have more opportunity to excersise said powers. Rugby is also more technical e.g. the scrum, lineout, kicking grubblers in play, rucks, and still some set plays from lineouts and scrums. Each position has its strengths, weaknesses and jobs BUT every player can and will be required to do jobs from covering for the full-back in defense to scoring tries to rucking out. That is my case for the rugby side. I invite someone intelligent from the AF side to explain why AF is equal to or better than rugby.

— 86.✗.✗.251
-1

June 15, 2013, 1:39pm

As an American living in Australia I have watched a ton of rugby, mainly league but have watched a lot of union as well and I will say without a doubt rugby is a very brutal game. BUT..... Rugby fans pls stop getting carried away thinking cuz there's pads the players don't feel anything hahahahaha. There is a speed in the NFL that can't replicated in any other full contact support PERIOD. U know all those stop starts that everybody clowns us well those stop starts allows a rest in between plays wich allows a top level of play the whole game. Like I said rugby has a lot of big hits but U can't lead with ur head Running full speed. Now go strap on sum pads and play our game c how that works out.

— 180.✗.✗.44
-1

February 7, 2013, 5:38pm

Athletes in both sports run about the same speed. Rugby players GENERALLY tend to be bigger than BALL PLAYING American football players. in NFL it's more dangerous to be a TACKLED players because they don't get time to adjust to an impact, they get hit from any direction without being braced and because they are allowed to be TACKLED IN THE AIR, which is why NFL players require PADS.

Rugby is more dangerous for the TACKLER because unlike NFL the player making a tackle has to deal with a HEAD ON collision, A player moving at pace and who is braced moving in his direction.

rugby players generally vary in size from (187lbs.) 85kg (being EXTREMELY small.) to 200kg (440lbs.) (which is extremely rare.) (like big bill who's mentioned above.) larger rugby players tend to be around 135-150kg like 19 YEAR OLD Edwin maka (140kg) -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Maka
and
Opeti fonua - http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opeti_Fonua

NFL players Generally range in size from 67kg to 160kg.
The largest ball playing NFL players are both at around 123kg (271lbs.)

The reason for the size differences listed above is because of the difference between the sports, Players in both sports are expected to be very mobile but A NFL player who is 135kg although being able to batter players out of the way is less than likely to make the required amount of yardage, therefore NFL players need to be of decent size BUT speed and agility is picked over brute strength.




Both sports show amazing display's of agility, NFL AND rugby players have to jump for the high ball

NFL - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb9NOyBjGtU
Rugby - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwxjHV3_bVA (skip to 6:05)

Both sports have players step, dance, weave or move around opponents although AF has a much BIGGER emphasis on this because the players generally have a lighter more thin build and a leaner body and longer legs.

The average tackle in both sports looks reasonably similar (seriously Americans WATCH A WHOLE FUCKING GAME, we get great coverage of the NFL in Australia it's basically AD FREE and it's live.)

The technique differs however, The average rugby tackle is aimed at taking down a playing who is moving towards them so rugby players IN LATER TIMES tend to tackle HIGHER (between the waist and the neck.) to AVOID becoming unconcious, mainly because of the head coming into contact with the Hip OR thighs, this is less effective at putting players on the ground which is why many rugby players still tackle lower.

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImCTTbRHdfU

So players are now being urge to tackle A little higher (as many would of seen the change over the past year.) NFL tackles are aimed at SLOWING the player they are tackling, many tackles are from behind or from the side and players are taught to do almost any action to SLOW the players movement, this is similar to rugby however the tackle technique in the AVERAGE tackle in NFL often consists of LESS shoulder and more pulling or twisting of the player they are tackling.

The "big hits" in both sports are very different, Most "big hits" in NFL comprise of ONE PLAYER moving at a very fast pace were as in Rugby big hits are usually made on a player who is moving fast into a tackle.

The hits in AF sometimes can seem more spectacular because of the reasons above but hits in both sports are similar, Think about it this way, to put a player moving at full pace onto his back TAKES MORE FORCE than to put a slow moving player on his back (which is rare, Most AF "big hits" result in the upper torso pulling backwards (because of the helmet.) but the rest of the body doesn't often (but sometimes it does.) get affected as much in Af. WATCH THE TACKLES CAREFULLY.)

here's an example of what one MAY look like, this is a pretty standard "front on" tackle BUT with the exception of the player being "slow moving" this clip is a sort of "middle ground" between the general idea of an NFl and rugby big hit

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06lDC4p8G_U

Now running, in AF players throw the ball fowards (not always.) meaning the player recieving the ball MAY NOT have A lot of room to run (not that it's too different to rugby.) therefore in AF players tend to try and find support (blockers/linesman.) or to try and move around the player. In rugby passes are thrown backwards, rugby players tend to get A LITTLE BIT more space between where they caught the ball and the defending players, they also get the advantage of a BACKWARDS pass (allowing them to "run onto" the ball.) meaning rugby players generally opt to run at the defence (yes we spell it differently.) Therefore players as I mentioned above need different tackling styles to stop these players.

to stop an NFL attack a player must find a way to GRASP the player and twist or pull them to put them off balance and slow them (if you watch the NFL you'll see most players do this rather than go for the "big hit" they generally get to the player and then try to PULL THEM off balance.)

Rugby players tend to try and opposite the force, if a player is running upright it's a GOD SEND for a rugby player because rugby players try and oppose the force of the runner and dig the shoulder in. When A player runs upright his center of gravity is higher meaning if you have a lower center of gravity YOU DON'T NEED TO BE MOVING FAST to win the collision. It's possible to run full pace into a tackler WHO ISN'T MOVING and lose to him in the collision.

so kicking, In AF kicking consists of punts and goals (similar to rugby.) the idea of a punt is basically the same in both sports EXCEPT in rugby punts are aimed towards the corners and near the touchlines and punts in AF are aimed to make the furthest distance. In rugby players also use "chip kicks" (short kicks used to re gather the ball.) and "grubber kicks" (same idea.) to beat the defence.

In Rugby players kick of a "tee" a small plastic or rubber object, in NFL players kick the ball from the ground whilst a player holds it and a field goal is made IN GENERAL PLAY.

tactics - In NFL it's more of a chess game, you need to think of where the pieces go BEFORE getting into position, it's about moving your pieces into the right place without the opposition catching on.

In rugby tactics consist of a "gameplan" players will be given a gameplan before the start of the game and at half time. This usually consists of the opponents weaknesses (do they leave gaps on the wings, do the inside players rush up fast on defence, is their lineout working, how's their scrum, do they have defenders near the breakdown, is there any mismatches??) and an overview (do you want the team to take all the points on offer?? do you want your team to keep it tight (if it's raining.) do you want the team to not punt (because of high wind.) do you want your players to rush up (if the other team has a LARGER set of players.)Players will then keep this in mind and "think on their feet" they will try and exploit the opponents weaknesses, while sticking to the gameplan. Players will work as a team to get around the opponents defence (or to stop the other team advancing.) rugby is all about COMMUNICATION.


Both sports are equally as good and both are JUST as dangerous, there's A little bit more "serious" injuries in rugby but that's because of the additions of "rucks" and "scrums" therefore without them the injuries would be basically the same amount.

AF players NEED Pads because they aren't able to brace for tackles where as rugby players are braced AND MOVING FORWARD into tackles (sometimes the opposite happens for BOTH sports.)

The FORCE of the tackler in both sports is pretty similar however the "collisions" in rugby are generally bigger (because players move into tackles more often.) but the BIGGEST collisions in both sports would be of similar impact.

Both games are extremely tactical and require a different kind of intelligence and lastly both games have extreme athletes although they are of a different build.

You should all watch some games of the other before critizing it, I've recently for the past 2 years watched the AF and I love it just about as much as rugby.

I love the shift in pace, the catches and throws, the chess match and the agility

In Rugby I love the raw strength, the impact, the teamwork and the communication.

— 49.✗.✗.120
-1

November 29, 2012, 6:39pm

Rugby FTW. American football is just a copy and likes taking stuff from other sport like the real football which you idiots call soccer even though you only use your foot while in football you rarely use your feet. Also rugby came first so since you sucked at it so much you decided to have your own lazy sport of it. Stop ruining sports America and calling them your own. You also did the same thing thing with kricket that you call baseball

— 209.✗.✗.62
-1

share

Up next

AFC vs. NFC