Differences Between Football, Rugby

There are a number of similarities and differences between the two sports, with one being played only in America, and the other being played worldwide. With the 2016 champions of NFL being the Denver Broncos, and the world number one team in rugby being the New Zealand All Blacks, we're taking a look at some of the biggest differences and similarities between the two popular sports. To join in the fun, you can use a rugby predictor in order to determine the scores of some of your favorite rugby games, and while the Autumn Internationals have just finished, this is certain to still be popular in the near future with the Six Nations coming up in February.


When it comes to American football and rugby, there are a few similarities, which is no surprise considering that American football was born from a combination of rugby and football when introduced to American colonies. Both of the balls in American football and rugby are a prolate spheroid, although the sizes are slightly different, and the rugby ball weighs slightly more at approximately 1 lb. However, the aim of both games are full of intense physical play with complex strategy to score points by advancing the ball to the opponent team's end-zone.


However, there are far more differences than there are similarities when you compare American football with Rugby. For example, the NFL is the only major league in American football, whereas there are a number of different competitions across rugby, including international competitions, national leagues, Aviva Premiership, RFU and many more. The time limit and how the game is played between American football and rugby is also very different. In American football, two teams of 11 players face each other, and there are four 15-minute quarters, with a half-time intermission after the second quarter. This is where the half time show happens, with big events like the Super Bowl having huge pop stars play at the show.

In rugby, however, two teams of 15 players face each other, and there are just two 40-minute halves with a 10-minute half time. Clock stoppages are also different between the two games, with American football clock stopping frequently during the game, and the rugby clock only stopping for prolonged injuries. In addition to this, there is a physical difference as soon as you watch the two games, with American football players having padding and helmets when they play, whereas rugby players do not, despite similar levels of aggression, speed, and power between the two games.

Sometimes substitutions in games with this much power are needed, due to injuries or tiredness throughout the game. However, in rugby, the teams are limited to seven substitutions, whereas in American Football you will find that there are unlimited numbers of substitutions.

Contact Sport

One of the most significant differences between American football and rugby, is that in rugby all players are allowed to handle the ball, but any sort of blocking, forward passing, and time-outs are not allowed. In American football, however, players are allowed to obstruct or screen players who do not have the ball, which is why it is considered a more dangerous sport, hence the helmets and padding. In rugby, this is not allowed, and the ball can only be moved forward by lateral passes, running, and kicking. Because of this, rugby players tend to be more concerned about possession rather than gaining yardage on the pitch, which is what American football is all about.

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