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Photo: Army.mil

Matador attempts to put this old international sports debate to rest.
Meet our panelists
  • N. Chrystine Olson: From the perspective of an American football official

Rugby and gridiron compete for my loyalty in September. Tri Nations winds up, American football starts. I attempted to watch both last Saturday, contacting the only sports bar known for showing “the rugby,” hoping one screen could be dedicated to the South Africa / Australia match.

I settled into a lonely booth while every other patron focused on college football. Enjoying a pint in anticipation of the scrum, I got the bad news. They no longer subscribed to the obscure cable channel responsible for rugby. The waiter brought me a free beer, switching on the Alabama / Virginia Tech game.

The sports gods were talking to me: Remember your roots. You’re American. Watch football. I like rugby, but I LOVE football.

  • Lola Akinmade: From the perspective of a former competitive rugby player

“I found it!” I remember one player announcing gleefully as he picked up his lost tooth from a muddy rugby field, a bloody grin across his face.

Having played competitive rugby for over 10 years and choosing to retire after a knee injury, there’s a certain spirit of camaraderie that’s shared by lovers of the sport. From picnicking impromptu with the entire Tongan rugby team at a park in New Zealand, to those evenings spent singing songs in Midwestern Ohio clubhouses, the underlying tone beneath the sport is one of acceptance.

We accept you just the way you are. We have a position you can play, regardless of shape, size, or height.

Criterion 1: Complexity
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 1, Rugby 0

One difference: legal forward pass. Creates exponential combinations of offense. Points can be scored quickly. Equally complex defensive strategies may result in a “pick” (interception), changing game momentum in one spectacular move.

Effective passing and a decent running game make for encyclopedic playbooks. No wonder teams need skyboxes and advanced telecommunications to set plays. Just don’t pull a Belichick and hire a videographer. Bad Coach!

  • Lola’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

You can’t just throw the ball in when it goes out of bounds, you actually have to form a human tower to win it back. You can’t just run across the finish line, you have to touch the ball to the ground for that mad run through a human obstacle course to count.

Plus, any sport that demands you only pass the ball backwards while running at full speed as a 200+ pound player charges towards you wins the complexity battle.

Criterion 2: Equipment
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 1, Rugby 0

Gridiron players don’t just tackle, they collide. Every player except the quarterback blocks after the ball is snapped. The average lineman runs 40 yards in 5 seconds, weighs 300lbs.

Mandatory safety equipment for one player: helmet, face mask, chin strap, mouth protector, shoulder, tailbone, hip, thigh, and kneepads. Multiply by 100. We win by sheer volume.

  • Lola’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

Just one piece of equipment recommended: mouthguard! This by default makes rugby players badasses on the field.

Criterion 3: Tackling
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 1, Rugby 1

Call this a draw, because rugby organizes their scoring drives by number of allowed tackles. But all those controlled crashes and an “almost anything goes” philosophy to bring down the runner gives us the win. Emphasis on the “almost” — otherwise I wouldn’t have a job every fall.

  • Lola’s view: American football 1, Rugby 1

So both sports are known for bone-crushing tackles. Can’t argue with that. However, all tackling styles aren’t made equal. Watching a 150-pound lightweight back player take down a 300-pound forward in a skillfully executed tackle without a scratch is a thing of beauty.

Criterion 4: Handling injuries
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 1, Rugby 0

That’s what all those players are for. Bring off the body and put in the second string. No one’s irreplaceable. Besides, the team’s trainer will have all the Hydrocodone, Oxytocin, and industrial-strength Vicodin a damaged player can handle.

  • Lola’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

In rugby, the game stops for no man. If you’re not springing back up and shaking it off after a few minutes, we only stop to roll you off the field and pull in a substitute.

Criterion 5: Plays and names
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 1, Rugby 0

Hail Mary. Statue of Liberty. Spiritual AND patriotic. Blitz. Bootleg, Shotgun, and Sprint Draw. Reminiscent of a Western starring John Wayne. Classic.

  • Lola’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

Hooker. Scrum. Maul. Ruck. Flyhalf. I dare you to come up with cooler names for players and plays.

Criterion 6: Sportsmanship
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

Surprise, I’m with my Lola on this one. I’ve dated both American football and rugby players. The starting freshman QB at Virginia Tech was an ass, the All Black’s winger an absolute dream.

But on a less personal note, all the money associated with American football has created some real brats. Can you say “Brett Favre”?

  • Lola’s view: American football 0, Rugby 1

Known worldwide as the “hooligan sport played by gentlemen,” expect a nice meal and tasty adult beverages provided by the hosting team after every game. All grievances end once you get off the pitch and into that clubhouse.

Final score
  • Chrystine’s view: American football 5, Rugby 2

So, rugby isn’t skunked in my tally, gotta give credit where it’s due. Still wish I could have seen at least one Tri Nations match in real time. No offense to available YouTube clips, but it just isn’t the same.

Now I’m off to Capones; the Green Bay Packers open in Lambeau against the Chicago Bears. Shouldn’t have any trouble catching that game.

  • Lola’s view: American football 1, Rugby 6

Hands down, rugby takes home the trophy. 80 minutes of nonstop ruggedness with gasp-inducing tackles and wow-extracting plays.

Plus, any sport that gives you this spectacle instead of perky cheerleaders as pre-game entertainment rules!

Team Sports

 

About The Author

N. Chrystine Olson

N. Chrystine Olson calls the American South home once again where the BBQ rocks and the boys have soft accents and excellent manners.

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  • http://evaholland.com Eva

    Toughness? Rugby, no question. Rugby players generally play the whole game – and no, we don’t stop every 15 seconds so the coach can tell us exactly what we’re supposed to do next – and do it without a mountain of padding. (Not that I’m biased… :D)

  • http://www.rmccoll.co.uk Richard

    In complete agreement with Eva and Lola, rugby hands down. I broke a finger or two aged 14 playing rugby and wanted to come off and was told to get on with the game. After damaging my knee seriously aged 16 I was told to walk it off, I was later subjected to a week in bed, 3 months of physio and a month and a half of crutches.

  • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

    I’m not a big fan of either, but great article! Very entertaining. Love the passion.

    Living in Australia for the past 2 years, I’ve definitely gained respect and better understanding for rugby. But what I really like about gridiron are the strategies. That game is like a war, with your generals and foot soldiers. And there’s not much more exciting than that hail mary in the last seconds to win the game, or a 95 yard punt return for a touchdown.

    Now, go find a Melburnian and get him/her to toss Aussie Rules Football in the mix. You’ll definitely find some serious passion there!

  • chris

    why are you giving ratings for equipment?? that is EXACTLY the reason why Rugby is better. Americans need to protect themselves from a tackle and are afraid to have a drop of blood spilt

    Here is my point with Rugby Union and Rugby League

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_i6szEMhqk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8v-qZFVYnc

  • http://scrumhalfconnection.com Wendy

    Love this article and the varying points of view!

    Wendy

  • Rudy

    Perhaps Chrystine should limit her comments to sports she has actually watched.

  • Cheakamus

    I just had to chime in :)

    On Complexity: Evolving play requires intelligence on the part of all participants (players, refs, coaches and spectators). Continually reset play requires good memory and the ability to do as you are told. I’m sorry, Slam, but “Points can be scored quickly” happens in rugby a lot. What’s more thrilling than an intercepted pass and a 90 yard run down WITH SUPPORT? When it happens in gridiron everyone gets exited, like it’s something special. It happens in rugby all the time. And a drop goal? That’s pretty fast scoring that can happen on a moment’s notice. Rugby: 1, Gridiron: 0

    On Equipment: Less is better. Makes it affordable for anyone to play. If you want tough? Take off the pads and learn the art of tackling. Rugby: 1, Gridiron: 0

    On Tackling: “Controlled crashes” is not tackling. It’s body bowling. BTW, Chris: your youtube videos are a disgrace to the sport. Most of what they show is illegal by the rules of rugby – high tackles, fighting, late tackles, tackling players in the air. That is NOT the message people should get about the sport. If bleeding, broken bodies and pain is what you want watch UFC. Rugby: 1, Gridiron: 0

    On Handling Injuries: “Blood replacement” is not a transfusion. Rugby let’s the trainers onto the pitch to help an injured player while play continues. I did like John Smit’s interview after the Boks/All Blacks third game, the trickles of blood running down his lip and chin not phasing him at all. That’s handling injury. Rugby: 1, Gridiron: 0

    Plays & Names: Scored a “Touch down”? WHAT? Huh? It should be called a “Plane Break”. Scored on a “Try at Goal” – now that makes sense. Rugby: 1, Gridiron: 0

    Sportsmanship: This is the most important of them all. Nothing to do with toughness. The very essence of rugby is respect and inclusiveness. “Elegant violence”, “A hooligans game played by gentlemen”. It must maintain sportsmanship or the violent nature of the game would cause it to descend into chaos and obscurity.

    Final Score: Jay’s View: Rugby: 6, American Football: 0 (no surprise there). Rugby has enough nations playing it that a World Cup happens. Rugby Sevens will be an Olympic sport. American Football is played in… uh… I guess two countries (if the CFL counts). Come visit, Slam! I have Setanta and Tivo :)

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    Well…my gridiron friends here in the States are being incredibly quiet. Not what I experience on any given Saturday, Sunday or Monday night. One obsessive Patriots fan said , and I quote “Rugby is tougher but football is better.” Maybe it’s all about the adjectives.

    I watched a 300 lb. defensive end from Iowa chase down a full back the length of the field to prevent a touchdown last Saturday. A thing of beauty…and remember…he’s wearing all that equipment.

  • Johnnyb

    Doesn’t it also depend what position you play? To me, as an ex-rugby player and fan who enjoys watching the NFL, it seems LBs and RBs take a bigger pounding than other positions I can think of.

    Likewise in rugby, a flanker or no.8 can easily engage in 40+ contacts in a game, whereas a well protected fly half (eqv. to a QB) may only make 10 or fewer!

    There are also 2 codes of rugby – playing a game of rugby league has been likened to jogging 4 miles at 60% pace and being mugged 20 times en route.

    one thing – I do think the NFL looks after its players better than the professional rugby leagues. Consider this – a Guiness Premiership rugby player can play 40+ times in a season, including internationals. The average Guinness Premiership player is reckoned to spend 20% of his career injured. An NFL professional plays 18x, although because of the number of quality athletes available he might be more likely to lose his place than a rugby player.

    So which is tougher?!

    Richard Tardits, who played junior international rugby for France, senior international rugby for the US Eagles, Div 1 college at Georgia and in the NFL for the Pats and the Cardinals (so probably the best qualified of any man to have an opinion) had this to say:

    “two completely different types of pain. American football is the more violent, rugby is the greater physical challenge”.

  • http://www.writeronthewayhome.blogspot.com niamh

    Rugby every time – union if you want to be picky.
    I grew up watching rugby in Ireland, then lived in Sydney and discovered the Southern way and league. Also lived in the States and I tried so hard to like gridiron. I really did.
    Any athlete that gets out there and takes punishment while showing style is a warrior but I just couldn’t get past all the padding, the helmets, the hype.
    A quote from Paul O Connell, an amazing Irish rugby player
    ” The biggest, strongest guys wear the jerseys 1 to 5. That’s the way it is with rugby. Look at soccer. If you get tackled, you pretend you are half dead. If you get punched in the face in rugby, you try to pretend nothing happened. No matter how hard someone hits you, you have to pretend it didn’t hurt and that nothing is wrong. You might take your break three minutes later and go down with a sore ankle, but you can never be intimidated.”

  • Chris

    I totally have to agree with johnnyb on this topic. I have played both sports and even played football at the collegiate level and he has one fact right. Physically challenging rugy takes the cake but if you like blunt force trama being inflicted on others then football is your sport. People are dogging American football cause of all the pads and helmets but the first thing I learned in rugy was to unlearn how to tackle. You MUST wear protective gear in football or you will be injured, not hurt, injured! One big hit by a middle linebacker is the same as getting tackled and roughed up in an entire rugby match. Although I have the upmost respect for anyone who plays either sport I have to side with American football for two reasons: 1.) I dont want to be that guy who doesn’t choose a side. 2.) The shear complexity of American football dwarfs that in rugby. The coaches and game strategy have a lot to do with the game while in rugy it seems you just have to be the tougher team.

  • Jim

    I hope I’m not too late to join this conversation but the ironic thing about the helmets and pads that American football players wear is that they end up making the game more dangerous as players ram helmet first and shoulder first into opponents and target the heads of players. As mentioned American football is more violent although you’re more likely to be injured playing rugby.
    Example 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0Y9wt3XkHo
    Example 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZxRioJDms4
    Example 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIFzcK9dqj8

    Secondly, trying to compare rugby and Am. football is pretty useless because although both games share similar origins they’ve both gone in different directions in what they require from the players, coaches, and schemes. I can state this having played rugby in the UK and college football in the US. You might was well try comparing ice hockey with rugby for what it’s worth. Perhaps 70 or so years ago, both were similar enough you could make comparisons but no longer.

    Thirdly, the demands that both sports make upon athletes are totally different. In American football strength and explosive speed are stressed while in rugby it’s strength and endurance. It’s probably not totally dissimilar to the difference between a 100m sprinter and a 200m or 400m sprinter. That’s why you’ll likely never see many rugby players suceed at American football and visa versa.

    Also, the reigning rugby olympic champions (1920 & 1924) are the US mostly made of up of players from American football. Granted rugby hasn’t been played at an Olympics since then but that might give a better measure between the two sports, but as I pointed out the two games have gone in different directions so at this point its likely doesn’t matter.

    Lastly, although I love rugby and the culture that surrounds it, it really doesn’t compare to American football, especially college football. Name me one domestic or international rugby team that draws 100,000+ fans? or plays in an iconic stadium? In college football there’s Michigan at the Big House, and Penn State at Beaver Stadium, and Ohio State at the Horseshoe, and Tennessee at Neyland and USC at the LA Coliseum just to name a few with many more teams drawing crowds of 80-90,000+ every game.

    As for ‘Spectacle’, yes the All-blacks Haka is great fun and you get crowds singing some great songs at some of the international games, but college football has all of that and oodles more:
    Watch this and the ‘Haka’ seems tame by comparison…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwmuPK9OEC4

    Try Michigan’s Hail to the Victors, Tennessee’s ‘Rocky Top’, Notre Dame’s ‘Rally sons of Notre Dame’, USC’s ‘Fight on’, Ohio State’s ‘Battle Cry’, Florida State’s ‘War Chant’, and many more with all of these schools having multiple fight and tribute songs.
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l25hAn9Giuc
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CMf2Apihd0&feature=related

    All of these schools have 200-400+ member marching bands as well. Name me one rugby team that has their band travel to Rome and march around the Coliseum in Rome like USC’s Trojan Marching Band?
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PaOXLMthSg

    That’s all before you get to the mascots and pre-game rituals like Colorado’s Ralphie the Buffalo, Florida State’s Chief Osceala planting the flaming spear on the field, USC’s Traveler and Trojan warrior riding onto the field and throwing down his sword, Texas’ Bevo, LSU’s Mike the Tiger-that’s right a real f*ckin’ tiger, or Georgia’s UGA.
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lQbs_3uWtA
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV3672-REoE
    Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foGHh14uvKk

    All of these schools have numerous and quirky traditions as well like Ohio State’s ‘dotting the i’ at the beginning of each game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-TQcqRWbDA

    or Texas A&M’s ’12th Man’ & Midnight Yell; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEfVWw-IlVM&feature=related

    There are other great aspects of college football like the cheerleaders; google LSU’s Golden girls, Oregon’s Cheerleaders, or USC’s Song-girls for the evidence or announcers like Keith Jackson and the College Gameday crew with Chris, Kirk, and Lee Corso hamming it up.

    That’s all before you get to one the best aspects of college football; Tailgating. Seriously, there’s nothing like strolling along these campuses in the fall enjoying seriously bad-ass BBQ, beer, and talking football. You haven’t lived until you’ve tailgated at the Arroyo Seco on January 1st right before the Granddaddy of all bowl games, the Rose Bowl.

    I could go on about rivalries like Ohio State/Michigan, Auburn/Michigan, USC/Notre Dame, Texas/Oklahoma, or the world’s largest cocktail party-Florida/Georgia or so many other things but rugby has nothing like the culture, history, pagentry, or spectacle of college football.

    Then again, no other sport on the planet does either.

  • Izzy

    Read this article and then tell me which players are tougher
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/19/MNDT1AMR9V.DTL&feed=rss.sports

    I rest my case.

    • Magpieview

       Look up Wayne Shelford

  • Darren Cherwonuk

    To Richard: American footballl is more violent than Rugby; Rugby is more cardio, thats all, you would not make any footballl team in America, becuase you are a girly man another word your a mommas boy.

    • Magpieview

       Yeah relying on guts and skill instead of size and protective equipment is so wussy

  • Evan

    Okay, I am an American and I feel I have to say something. First, as usual, all Europeans have to try to make their sports or pasttimes or whatever look tougher because they always want to try and make it look as though America is weak. Your focusing on all the wrong things, like the fact American football players wear pads, the plays are over after the ballcarrier is down, etc.

    American football is comprised of some of the fastest athletes in the world, who (this is important) take ANGLES towards the ballcarrier and will line up a hit from 40 yards away. Running backs in football will be hit by a man who is running at full speed from 40 yards away and run right through you. When I played football, almost every play I was hit so hard that a white light would flash in front of my eyes, and I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall and weigh 225 pounds. The hits are just so much more ruthless because of the speed and the way the game is played.

    In rugby, (I am from Boston, where we probably have the most rugby leagues in America) rarely do two guys ever hit each other while running top speed from very far away directly at each other. Endurance wise, yes, rugby is probably superior. But you can’t sit there and tell me that rugby is tougher and more violent, it just doesn’t make sense. Rugby fans just like to boast about the fact that “we don’t have to wear pads, oh, we’re real men.” The sport doesn’t call for it. In the old days, American football players wore minimal protection and there was several deaths occurring in the earliest seasons until they realized that the way the sport is played, helmets and the like are necessary to legitimately save lives. It really is no comparison.

    I love the game of rugby it is an excellent sport, but it does not hold a candle to the viciousness that happens in an American football game. The fact that play doesn’t continuously go on has nothing to do with it, that is just how the game is played. Besides, to be effective on offense in football, players need to be running at top speed the entire play, and there is no way anyone can run at top speed continously for a 60 minute game. Futhermore, in rugby, players only tackle the ballcarrier. In American football you can get blindsided by a blocker at any time and be knocked out unconscious before you even knew someone was lining you up for a hit. Also, ballcarriers running up the middle will frequently be gang tackled by 5,6,7,8 players, all weighing between 250-300 pounds. Try having 1500-2000 pounds piled on top of you.

    American football is a tougher, more violent, more ruthless sport. It is no comparison.

  • http://katemate.wordpress.com/ Kate

    Football – er, “gridiron” – loving American currently living in rugby-mad Sydney weighing in here: I concur with most of you above that the two sports are tough in their own unique ways and therefore rating their relative toughness is like comparing apples and capsicums, but I must make two points:

    1) The NFL is filled with freak of nature physical specimens who have radically changed the game in the last 10-15 years (one factor in the sharp increase in injuries), and these guys could absolutely play rugby – and kick ass – if they so chose. Look at defensive ends like Mario Williams (6’6″, 295 lbs, 4.73s 40 time) and Julius Peppers (6’7″, 283, 4.74s); there are very few rugby players who combine that kind of strength, size, and speed.

    2) I nearly choked on my drink when I read the “sportsmanship” argument about rugby players being the greater gentlemen. I won’t dispute that NFL players have had their fair share of trouble, from the idiotic (Michael Vick, Plaxico) to the truly tragic (Donte Stallworth, Chris Henry), but you should have at least acknowledged the disgusting, chauvinistic culture that is completely tolerated within pockets of the rugby world. I hadn’t been in Oz for two days before I learned the term “glassing,” and barely a day goes by where a rugby player here isn’t implicated in some sort of public fight or sex scandal. Seriously, check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_off-field_incidents_involving_rugby_league_players#cite_note-107
    The NRL badly needs an Aussie Roger Goodell!

  • ct

    A little late to the dance, but my two cents:

    1) Regarding Lola’s complexity argument, how a single way to throw the ball in bounds, a single thing to do when you cross the goal, or a single way to toss the ball equates to complexity is lost on me. Touching the ball on the ground and making a tower may be “one more step” you have to do, but they aren’t complex steps. Only being able to throw the ball behind you limits complexity, it doesn’t create it.

    Complexity in any game comes from having many interconnected/coordinated players (or pieces) and strategic/tactical possibilities that you have to consider many steps ahead. American football is much more complex in this way than rugby. The stops between plays in American football allow coaches to call myriad formations and innumerable plays that coordinate eleven players (who are substituted for their specific skill advantage related to that play) to trap, fake, deceive, outmaneuver, or overpower eleven other players. Plays often rely on precise timing and anticipation to execute — a second off and the play busts or the offense scores. The appropriateness of a given play at any time depends on a variety of factors (tendencies, personnel on the field, place on the field, time) and planning (what have you already done, are you trying to set another play up for later). By high school in some states, and definitely by college, American football players (e.g., quarterbacks) have to study thick play books outside of practice just to understand what the coach’s strategy. Some players, even after a lifetime of playing, encounter a new coach and can’t get their heads around the coach’s system because it’s too complex or nuanced. The complexity of the sport is why you have coaching “geniuses” with their own systems and team staff dedicated to scouting and creating new systems to counter other teams. It’s a little disingenuous to discount all of this because a player has to touch the ball to the ground when he scores.

    (@Cheakamus: the “intelligence” (read, quick decision-making) of a single player is not the same as overall sport complexity. In American football, the ball carrier has a same choice to “lateral” the ball as in rugby. They just don’t typically do it because they have other options.)

    2) However, while the stops (and subs) in American football contribute to complexity, they also make me willing to admit that rugby is tougher in the sense of endurance toughness. Additionally, that rugby players are less specialized / play both offense and defense means they have to have some serious endurance toughness compared with specialized American footballers. I definitely have some respect for that.

    One question is whether general endurance is all we mean by “tough.” Lance Armstrong is also tougher endurance-wise than probably any professional American football player, but I’d still rather ride a bike than get hit by Julius Peppers, whose specs Kate cited. You get harder hits in American football because of the pads (more reckless abandon, plus think of being on the receiving end of a helmet), the angles (blindside, hitting while in the air, e.g.), and the freaks who play . Even with pads, there were still around 500 deaths in American football between 1945 and 1999, not to mention Izzy’s article on concussions.

    Rugby players, as a whole, seem to be more generalists, do everything pretty well while having high endurance. You get more specialization in American football players — faster fast guys, stronger strong guys, etc., while still having the more rugby-like linebacker, TE, running back positions. Thus, it’s tougher to catch or avoid the fast guy in the NFL, tougher to overcome the strong guy. If, like in American football, you had specific, longer-term strategic plans trying to create specific opportunities and time to adjust, you need the fastest possible guy for one play and the strongest guy for another, because they would beat the generalist in that task. But, if the game was more go-with-the-flow, you would need more generalists (i.e., rugby).

    The tougher opponent depends on what you mean and on what situation you are in. Apples and oranges, I guess…

    Nah, American football is tougher. :-)

    • Magpieview

       You do not realize that whilst it may not be allowed to pass the ball forward, you are allowed to kick the ball forward and that it is possible for more that one player to pass the ball. That means you have to be aware of the ball carrier and all the support. 

      The fact that everything starts again with the complexity of figuring out whether the QB is going to run or pass to a team mate must be immense.

      I think we will all concede that the collisions are for sloppier and stupid in American Football, and that American Footballers are physically and psychologically trained to get themselves injured would be more impressive if they realized it. 

  • Mercure

    Americans always jump in and says things such as “american football s waaaaayy tougher, the athletes way faster/ stronger/ yadayadayada”.

    I doubt if any one of these people have ever watched a game of rugby, let alone played in one.

  • ct

    @Mercure: Unfortunately, I played some rugby (14) in college in the US (admittedly, only on the club level, not anything really competetive) and watched rugby on tv both when I played and in the pubs I frequent. Chirs played rugby. Evan and Kate have also seen rugby matches in Boston and Sydney. Moreover, I didn’t say football players are way tougher — at least not with any seriousness…hence the smiley face (i.e., it was a joke that I would write a nuanced response and then abandon it with a sweeping statement like that)– or that all football players are way stronger or way faster than all rugby players. In fact, I was willing to admit that endurance-wise (overall fitness / physical challenge), rugby is tougher. All of this is unfortunate because while I was joking about someone who would just make a sweeping, baseless statement, you turn right around and do it.

    To help you out next time, my points (echoing most of what was said by the other Americans / football supporters) boil down to saying that football rules (e.g., stoppage time and unlimited substitutions) 1) make rugby more of a general physical/endurance challenge, while also 2) making football more complex (by allowing thousands of formations, plays, counters, specific long term planning, player substitution for specific purposes, etc.) and 3) requiring player specialization (stronger strong guys who gain muscle while sacrificing endurance, faster fast guys, etc.). The combination of point 3 with other football rules that allow blindside hits, etc., makes American football a game that’s too “tough” for most of the behemoth professionals to play longer than ~3 seasons, whether because they suffer too many violent hits or lose a step. The “150-pound lightweight back” that Lola praises in rugby doesn’t even exist in American football. He would get killed. He probably switched to a 14 on the rugby club team sometime in college.

  • Dan

    Well I’ve had a weekend of fun. I watched the six nations rugby followed by the superbowl. We all have our favorites, even if we try to be neutral. After reading the above comments I would say this: American football is big in America, but not really anywhere else, where as rugby has the wider geological demographic. I stayed up late last night to watch the superbowl but couldn’t keep my eyes open as it took an age for them to even start. It appeared to be more like a carnival that never really got going.

    As for which is tougher, I would say they are equal. I think American football would appeal to a far greater audience if they removed the ‘hype’ and over commercialised apsect. Rugby needs to pick some rules and stick to them; “can we have a rolling ruck? no, but in 2 years you can”

    I like the idea of planning and tactics in American football, but I don’t have that many hours free to wait while they have their breaks and a natter, or an hour long opening ceremony. Otherwise I’m sure I would enjoy it just as much.

    As for the number of people that turn up to each game, when you compare the amount of people in the U.S to that of rugby playing nations you see why the figures are so high. Plus, the sheer cost of a rugby international standard ticket (the closest comparison to state v state) you can appreciate why not as many people can go, but still the stadiums are always full.

    It’s a case of ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad’ for both sets of fans, just they way it should be!

  • CJ

    I’ve seen a comparative video study on both. American Football player hits average about 1500 pounds of pressure per hit; Rugby players about 500 pounds. So at first glance American Footballers seems tougher. But, due to that amount of savagery, American Footballers don’t hit as often, ie can’t last the entire game (that’s why you have offense and defense and special teams. And Rugby players hit three times as oftern. So do you want 1500 pounds all at once or spread out over more hits?

    As far as popularity among nations; it’s what you grow up with. I’m sure the only reason Cricket is popular globally is due to the influence of the former “Empire” not because it’s an exciting and intense game.

  • JO

    I am 15 and i live in Australia.
    I have been playing rugby since I was ten years old. Since then i have broken 3 fingers, my right foot, chipped my front tooth, both my big toes, broken my nose countless times (after you break it once, it gets really fragile) and have hurt myself in someway shape or form in every game. Believe me rugby is TOUGH. However, if you sit down and watch one game of American football, you will see just brutal and terrifically violent it is. This might sound a bit messed, but it is almost satisfying to see someone run it, get hit, do a triple backflip and land on his ass. But they are able to get up with all that padding they wear. I think that rugby is easier to watch, because it is more flowing and it never stops, it almost keeps you glued to the game. In my opinion I think both games are extremely tough in their own way, as in rugby is about putting the player on the ground and American football is about letting them gain as little ground as possible. So the whole way the two different games are played are completely different. But my vote still goes to rugby, hands down, no questions asked, the only protection is a mouthguard (which from experience has told me they don’t protect your teeth, they act as a shock absorber) and some choose to war headgear, and the is no stopping in games except for tries and halftime. This is just my opinion and i can’t truly criticize as I have never played gridiron in my life, however I would like to.

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  • Anon

    easily rugby

  • newhampshireyankee

    You know, I keep hearing rugby fans say that rugby players ‘wear no pads’, and that when they watch American football all they see is the pads being worn. But truth is, rugby players can be seen wearing helmets (scrum caps), shoulder pads (under their jerseys), shin guards (no football player would wear shin guards), padded gloves, and I believe, chest protective vests beneath jerseys. Am I wrong about that? These players do wear padding, as they deem necessary, just like their football counterparts. So come on, rugby fans, it’s time to fess up!!
    Check out some UK online rugby pads shops, and you can see what’s available. The padding argument comes to an end.

  • Dennis

    Biased?

  • js

    Tougher? I’m an American that’s played both competitively, and from a purely endurance perspective it would be rugby.

    But overall?

    It’s not even close. American Football. Gridiron. Whatever. Hands down.

    Enough with the idiotic “they wear pads” denigration. Anyone stupid enough to actually use this as some sort of “argument” for rugby just simply has not played American football. Because if you had, you would know the pads allow for much harder/violent hits than you ever get in rugby. A rugby tackle is basically a Greco-Roman / Judo takedown. Yeah it can get pretty rough, but it’s nothing more than the tackle football we’d play down at the neighborhood park or at school when we were kids.

    An American Football tackle is a freaking car wreck. How ’bout one of those blindside hits on a QB from a 285-lb Defensive End, or the 250-lb safety blitzing at full-speed? Those don’t happen in rugby. Or what about the “de-cleating, earhole” blocks on a punt return in football? Oh that’s right, there’s no blocking in rugby. American football has violent collisions occurring all over the field, and they don’t all involve the ball carrier.

    And some of you want to complain about the “breaks” between plays in American Football? It’s germane to the strategy. You call a play based on the down/distance, time on the clock. Every play is full-speed and violent. Let’s not pretend every second of a rugby match has every player going balls-out and hitting/getting hit.

    Sure, rugby is nice, takes some grit, and is gads more watchable/fun than the dreadful game of soccer. But there is simply no comparison to American football when it comes to complexity, speed, skill, and yes, overall toughness.

    • Rhys

      But not versatility and stamina

  • rugger

    every one’s comparing a sport that is played by 131 countries according to world rankings with a sport played by one country. rugby is more superior by far.im playing rugby n the game is really physical! dea are things that the reff cant see! punches n uppercuts , eye pokin thrown in the ruck! i got stamped on with an iron stud boot. ma team mate streched off with serious neck injuries.! has an nfl game ever been called off coz da reff could not control a fight. cops had to get involved. does nfl have a blood bin. a blood bin is wea players go to get blood cleaned. never have a seen a player enter the blood bin and not return bak onto the pitch. all this talk about hail mary passes for easy points. all nfl games ive watched ive never seen a team score 35+ points. rugby has had teams that hav scored ova a hundred points. dea was a game dis year in the super 14. the chiefs 63 the lions 53. how exciting is that.

    rugby by far the sport to play. oh n u play 7′s u’v got a shot at the next olympics! after the upcoming one.

  • JO

    and another thing, you guys supporting american football say you guys have massive people and stuff, well im sure they are. but i would like to see you go up against a 6ft 4 ,110kg 15 year old samoan, tongan, maori, fijian or aboriginal

  • Robert

    I got to say prefer Rugby union and League. I am a Soccer player but I started fallowing Rugby on Setanta. What initially got my attention was that the format was similair to Soccer two 45 minute halves, two 40 minute halves. I also liked the running and passing which ever since I was little I knew was something intrinsic missing in American football. Another thing I like about rugby is it has all the international drama that Soccer has. Its played on one level or another on just about every country in the world so you have big international competitions. I am also glad to see they are now showing Rugby League from Austalia on Altitude sports. My two favorite Leagues to watch are the NRL and Magners League.

  • Looie

    What about the fact Rugby is boring as hell to watch?

  • Mike

    It is obvious that these Rugby stars no nothing about football.I have never had a
    coach hand me a set of pads and told me these were for my protection, more like
    shoving themin my gut and told “go hurt someone”. The best tackle I’ve ever seen in Rugby would get you taking out of the game and put on the bench in football.
    Taking breaks in football? You have forty five seconds between plays in football,
    you are not taking a break, you get in the huddle,call the next play and get up to
    the line,football also has the no huddle offense, it similar to rugby, the next play begins immediately.
    I have no doubt that it takes alot of endurance to play rugby,if a person perfers rugby to football thats fine,but don’t be so stupid as to think a game played in
    shorts,similar to what is worn in soccer,is anywhere near as brutal as football,
    rugby has too much shoulder and arm tackling, no-no’s in football.

  • Mike

    Something to think about, Can you imagine any Rugby player,running over any
    Pro Bowl linebacker, in a one on one open field tackle.Rugby player will find out
    what pads are all about.Brutal.

  • ely

    i was the quarterback at highschool, the pads are meant so that you dont get killed. football players dont tackle they collide. Mike said it any 300 pound linesman could take out a rugby forward imo. secondly football is way more technical i cant see rugby players running the screen plays or the double reverses do. Oh and american football is played with grace.

  • Shane_Black

    Mike, you’re conflating rugby union with rugby league – the best comparison is between league and football: league is considered to be the toughest sport in the world (these two reviewers above are talking about rugby Union). There are many differences, for example there are 13 players instead of 15 on the same size pitch, there are no lineouts and there are fewer scrums, you can also shoulder charge in league which you can’t do in union.

    There hasn’t been any crossover (I think) from league to football, but there have been a few from football to league: most notably Philip Gardent of the Washington Redskins moved to the Celtic Crusaders – he did well but was recently released following a massive head injury which required emergency treatment; likewise Manfred Moore of the Oakland Raiders moved to a minor rugby league side in Australia and lasted four games before he had to quite and rejoin American football due to excessive injuries.

    These two guys weren’t lightweights, they were professional football players that had been part of winning Super Bowl teams.

  • doinitbig

    Ok, I grew up in Houston Texas and played american football (outside linebacker) for 13 years. I have also played rugby union (outside center) for 4 years and rugby league(center/fullback) for 2 years. I may be able to clear this up a bit. Football and rugby union and rugby league are three very different sports and each have their pros and cons, however, I would say the most crushing tackles and hardest feeling hits come from rugby league. It is a 15 meter full speed ‘line up across from the offense and bash fest’, and it can hurt. So can American football though, the difference is the pads. I would honestly say that the hits are just about as hard in each sport, even with the pads. The jacksonville axemen (semi-pro rugby league) team played against the Jacksonville knight(semi-pro american football) team about a year ago, one half american football and one half rugby league. I played for the rugby league team and we were only given shoulderpads and helmets, no leg pads, during the american football game. the hits were hard, expecially the blind sight blocking we were recieving during the american football game (you forget that they are coming after taking some time off of playing football). Regardless, I will admit that i got laid out several times during the american football match, but it never really hurt much at all. When it came time for rugby league, the hits felt like just as much impact but they hurt a lot more, and you are not done after the tackle. And rugby league is not a bunch of arm tackling. Bottom line is I think rugby league is just a bit tougher sport than af. That being said, rugby union, which is probably my favorite game to play does not have as many hard hits. it does have the dirtiest play however (such as raking peoples backs with your cleats, fighting and what not) and the best comradery (beers and singing at the bars after games) Players of all these sports can be tough, most football players dont even know what rugby is but may well be as tough as rugby players. Thats all.

  • Jimbo

    No question, American Football is a man’s sport and rugby is for average athletes. American Football players (NFL) are much faster, stronger and larger than their rugby counterparts. Don’t believe me? Just check out the picture at the bottom of the article – the rugby players screaming look like the guys in the stands at an NFL game, not the guys on the field. Small, scrawny, slow…

    I’d like to see how long a rugby player would want to go without pads after an NFL linebacker ran him over. Imagine a 340 pound (154kg) lineman, 6’8″ (2.032m) tall, who can run 40 yards in 5 seconds, bench press 480 pounds, and has a vertical leap of 28 inches. There isn’t a rugby player on the face of this earth that could stop him, but that’s about par for the course with regards to offensive lineman in the NFL.

  • Ash Duncan

    Australian Rules Football anyone? (www.afl.com.au)

    360 degree hits, non-stop football, huge bumps, bone crunching tackles, high flying marks, high scoring games.

    Exciting much?

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    I’ve been waiting for 8 months for SOMEONE to mention Aussie Rules. Think it beats both on the “toughness” scale”…and I wrote the gridiron side of this piece ;)

    • Adam Roy

      Agreed 100%. If you’re looking for out and out violence, though, you have to talk about international rules (fusion of Celtic football and Aussie rules). The games always seem to just degenerate into huge brawls.

  • PK

    The team in that picture there is Middlebury College, a division 2 university side from Vermont that has no business doing a haka.

  • renzo

    RUGBY IS THE BEST, IT CAN NOT BE COMPARED WITH A SPORT THAT AMERICANS MADE UP.american football never will be recognized nowhere but US.

    Rugby is the best sport ever!!!!! no needs explanation

  • Luis

    American football all day (and im English). The hits in American football are WAY! harder than in rugby thats why all that equipment is nessasary, there alot more momentum in the tackles and if they didnt have that equipment then players would gt injured on every play. Rugby players dont need all that gear because theres no momentum in the tackles there all soft wrap up tackles. And as far as sportsmanship i can’t turn on sky sports news without hearing something about a ‘fight on a rugby pitch’, ‘stamping in scrum’, ‘eye gouging’, ‘drug taking and stuff like that.

  • Jonny

    I bet my house if you took a that a team of NFL players and put them in a rugby match, they would win HANDS-DOWN!, some of these NFL players are physical freaks of nature. Infact Julious Peppers, Chris Johnson & Ray lewis could beat a whole rugby team by themselves

  • Dodo

    If you use too much of body armor, you’re probably a lady.

    Rugby is tougher.

  • DaveS

    I doubt an American Gridiron team could play rugby and win. Rugby is a fluid sport and I would be surprised if a 150kg, 6’10 Offensive tackle would have the fitness or a Running Back the all round coordination required for Rugby. Gridiron players are trained to execute specialised movements within seconds whereas in Rugby the required skill set is much broader (note Lola’s comment on ‘complexity’) with all 15 Rugby players expected to run, tackle, kick, brace, pass, catch etc in continuous motion for 5-10 minute periods without an official or unofficial break in play.

    Getting back to the orginal question, I would say Rugby is tougher (mentally and physically) due to the lack of protective equipment worn, sustained coordination and relentless contact. However Gridiron with it’s robust protective equipment, limited restrictions on tackling and player positions specifically designed for physical interference makes it a lot more dangerous.

    As others have mentioned, it would be also worth including Rugby League in this discussion. Rugby League permits the use of a very effective, physically jolting tackle known as the ‘shoulder charge’ which is illegal in Union.

    Regarding Aussie Rules – I grew up with and played it and although I’d say it is a physically demanding contact sport and potentially very dangerous, the players in no way endure the same physicality as the two sports being discussed.

  • Sal

    Support Football on Football vs Rugby on http://flipter.com/item/?id=280

  • michael

    if I trained current rugby players from any country to play american football, and the NFL let me play one exhibition game against any u.s. team…..

    ….it would clear up any confusion.

    the rugby players would KILL the americans from the kick-off.

    no question…

    if i trained any u.s american football players to play rugby, they would last for about 3 minutes of a rugby match before falling down from exhaustion.

    gridiron players can’t play offense and defense. end of debate.

    yankee go home.

  • Dan

    Love the article, some very good points both side however being a Kiwi im sure you know whats comming next……….COME ON THE ALL BLACKS!

    I am what you call one of these fanatical fans of the game of Rugby. If Rugby had a hooligan then that hooligan would be me. I believe i have just recently,due to the success of the All Blacks in the Tri Nations, been able to convert my wife from soccer. Now if only the questions would stop, especially at critical parts of the game.

    If you haven’t already guessed, Lola gets my vote – good on ya mate!

  • http://maps.google.com.au/maps/place?georestrict=input_srcid:a15423193bca9603&hl=en Sandy Brisbane

    Rugby. You yanks get dressed up like you are going to drive a motorcycle off a 50 foot cliff!

  • fuckyou

    i played football in highschool, and played for a rugby club in college. and from personal experience the hitting was harder in american football. the tackling technique we were taught in rugby are different from american football. the way you break down before the hit, you lose momentum. idk thats just my personal experience from playing both sports. but rugby was much more fun, you get the ball a lot more and you dont have to worry about blocking.

  • AmericanSharkssupporter

    Im an American and would rather watch South African rugby anyday over American throwball. If you cant see three passes in a row it is not a ball game. Plus in Rugby you have great international drama.

  • A.

    Anyone who used the “padding is for wimps” argument is an ignorant fool who simply does not wknow what they are talking about.

    Aside from the fact that many rugby players do wear padding, the fundamentals of the 2 games are totally different. With 4 plays to gain 10 yards, American Football is a game about small amounts of territory. That isn’t the case with rugby, where a yard or 2 of possession make no difference except when an attacking team is very near the tryline. That makes the contact in both sports is fundamentally different, and much more violent and dangerous in American Football.

    In rugby, they teach you to tackle below the waist, with your head behind the ball carrier, wrapping up his legs and allowing the ball carrier to fall forward. If you did that on an NFL field, and you’d be concending 2 yards of possession in every tackle.

    With on 10 yards to gain every 4 downs in American Football, you simply can’t afford to concede any yardage. You tackle above the waise, with your head in front of the ball carrier. You tackle by drive your shoulder in to the mid-section (on an imaginary line that runs upwards beneath the rib cage uand up through the shoulder blade) to stop the ball carriers momentum dead and drive him backards off his feet. If you blast a ball carrier in the ribs like that on a rugby field, and you are liable to the throw off for dangerous play.

    In rugby, they also don’t allow any of the blocking that is permitted in american football.

    The other thing to remember, is that the unlimited substitutions and stop start nature of the NFL mean that when the ball in is play the game is effectively played at full speed – unlike rugby – which increases the forces involved in the tackle.

  • Farmer Ted

    Thank you ‘A’ for your reply on Oct 19.

    And let me break down A’s reply in terms many of you morons probably still will not understand, yet I will try anyway:

    The “padding” in American football does not magically insulate those wearing such from injury. And here is the important part, so read s l o w l y if you must so that your cognitive-impaired brains can perhaps “get it”…the “padding” allows for impacts and collsions to happen at greater speeds. You know, that whole Mass X Acceleration = Force thing? Who am I kidding, of course you don’t.

    I’ve played both. Rugby is fun. It’s a great cardio conditioning. And it gets physical. But please, spare us your idiocy to try and claim it’s more hard-hitting and violent than American football.

    Even a simple block, not a tackle, but just a BLOCK in football can be vicious. On pretty much any play that involves a ball carrier reversing field “against the grain”, e.g. punt / kickoff returns, you will see a defensder pursuing at full speed who will get earholed (that means blown up, devastated) by an offensive player coming from outside the defender’s field of vision, typically also at a high rate of speed. The blocking “in the box” at the line of scrimmage in football on a garden-variety running play can be brutal.

    Think not? Then you be the outside linebacker or defensive back who has to take on the pulling guard who is looking to (violently) clear a path for his running back…or be the ILB / MLB who must take on the FB who is the lead-blocker on the most basic of ‘lead’ plays.

    There are 22 players on the field for a play in football. Realistically, 16-18 of those players will be involved in heavy hitting / blocking on EVERY PLAY.

    And how does that compare to the blocking in rugby? Oh, that’s right, it’s not allowed in rugby.

    Then there’s the tacking. Again, I say please. I’m not saying in rugby that you just exhale heavily and the runner lays down. But tackling in rugby is more of a wrestling takedown. As the previous poster stated, you’re typically not concerned about the rugby runner gaining a few extra yards while you drag him down. In football there are times when you are just trying to drag the guy down, say a 180-lb DB chasing down a 220-lb RB. But most of the time you are not just “tackling”, you are HITTING with the intent of preventing the runner from gaining even one more foot of territory, and simultaneously trying to hit with the technique and force to jar the ball loose for a fumble.

    Football tackles and hits consistently produce g-forces in the 100-150 range and even up to 200. This just does not happen with any great frequency in rugby, if at all. People would die. So think about it, this “padding” is literally protecting players from catastrophic injury and even death. But it also allows for the game to be played at a speed and level of “violence” that rugby does not even come close to approaching.

    So for you idiots who keep harping on about “padding,” it’s a certainty that you’ve never played American football. Here’s a challenge: Go find one of the American “gridiron” leagues that are constantly springing up in the UK/Europe and Australia. Tell them you’d like to try out. Off you go, give it a shot.

    Or even simpler: Get hold of some football gear, a helmet and some shoulder pads will do.

    Find a brick wall, then mark a line a mere 10-yards away. Now, from that line, run full-speed into the wall. Get up. Repeat. Again and again.

    • FillsHerTease

      I quite enjoy American Football but anyone who thinks it’s even vaguely close to Rugby Union or Rugby League in terms of toughness is living in a complete fantasy world. American footballers simply don’t know how to tackle and are too scared to do it properly despite all the padding. The number of times you see pathetic, half-assed attempted tackles is embarrassing – particularly when you know a Rugby League Player who is half the size would have pulled it off. It’s hard to compare blocking because there’s no such thing in either Rugby code. In American Football you have a bunch of giant offensive players who line up in front of a bunch of giant defensive players. When the play starts they charge at one another across the short distance between them and collide. Big deal! These guys are as big as one another and wear ridiculous amounts of padding – they even have helmets for goodness sake. There’s no comparison between that and a small Rugby League Half-back – with no padding whatsoever – bringing down a huge front rower who is sprinting at top speed. You do see similar scenarios in American Football but invariably the tackle is missed because they simply don’t put their bodies on the line…
      Then there’s the time and fitness factors. In American Football a game literally takes hours to complete. After each play they all have a nice rest and then, when possession changes sides, everybody trots off the field for a long rest while a completely different team takes the field! How can anyone dream that’s as tough as Rugby League, in which players with no padding have to stay on the field for the entire match, jumping up immediately after each tackle to keep running and keep tackling? American Football is a lot like a physical game of chess. It’s a great game but it certainly isn’t anywhere near as tough as either of the Rugby codes. I guarantee you won’t ever see a Rugby Lingerie League because the fact of the matter is that Rugby is a far more brutal game than American Football – which CAN be played by women in lingerie. Americans are many things – some good and some bad – but tough isn’t one of them. That’s been proven time and again by their embarrassingly wimpy record in warfare…

  • Roger

    I half-thought this was a joke when I first clicked on it. American footballers wear way too much padding, they might have to wear some but it becomes an excuse they ‘need’ to wear it when they’re already far better protected than rugby players despite being different sports.

    Rugby’s longer, far more relentless and tougher, American football’s a luxury sport in comparison.

  • Roger

    Just to add the obvious: Padding allows you to hit far harder than you otherwise would – they would not hit each other nearly as hard without the padding.

    As I’ve said, they’re already far better protected than rugby players.

  • Roger

    And yes, I have played both.

  • Nick

    I’ve played both organized Football, a cornerback, and currently club Rugby, outside center (hopefully moving to inside center next season), and to be totally honest I have to give Rugby the upper hand in almost every category. One thing not mentioned in the debate is the team environment that is created. The bond you form with the rest of your team is incredible. When I played Football I didn’t know everyone’s name, didn’t need to, being separated offense and defense then by position puts a strain on the idea of the “team.” This might have been just out of my own fault for not trying to make connections with my other team mates but they obviously didn’t try either. Then when it comes to Rugby when you do drills everyone is mixed up, you meet everyone. Sure you get separated into backs and forwards but that’s needed since both specialize in different things. Also Rugby will find a position for you no matter what your size is. I remember going into my freshman year of High school and seeing that the people that got all the playing time were those that were over 6 foot or just below. They definitely weren’t the best and I saw better performance out of the “B” team. Now my senior year and those kids all are starting because of their playing time from the past. Most kids from the “B” team dropped out even. I’m 5’5 and get to start in Rugby which is a huge bonus over having to sit on a bench. About the tackle, yes Football has some pretty bone crushing hits which yes your only flying around because of the pads but its still fun to watch. Rugby on the other hand is technically sound in the tackling, besides that I haven’t seen any cowboy tackles in Football. When someone gets a cowboy tackle in Rugby both teams are going “Oh that’s so cool!” Footballs tough but breads selfishness, Rugby is just as tough maybe tougher and breads selflessness; as a team mate of mine (played DT for the local rival high school) once said “Football is a gentleman’s sport played by thugs, while Rugby is a thug’s sport played by gentleman.”

  • Ashe Ketchum

    As a player of both sports, and one who often gets into heated debates on the topic, I felt the need to comment on this article.
    To start, I will address two major points that have been brought up by “A” and “Farmer Ted”. You both addressed something that is most often brought up in this argument – padding. Football players wear shoulder pads, helmets, and some various other padding while playing professionally. They run into each other at colossal speeds, shielding much of the blow with these pads, and hope that that will make the other person fall over. Rugby players wear two pieces of “gear”; a mouth piece, and some electrical tape. This tape is not hold clothes down, or to tape up an injury, but to tape down a player’s ears. Why? Because even today, after emerging from a particularly hard tackle and the ruck that results, players will realize that they have lost an EAR while playing the sport. And the toughest part of the situation? Play doesn’t stop. If a player is on the ground injured and doesn’t get up after a few minutes, play will only stop briefly enough to drag them off of the field and to sub in another player. Apart from when one of the teams breaks a rule, there is no stop to play.
    An average football play can range from five seconds, a blitz, to thirty seconds, the time it took to throw the ball and run a little. A play in rugby lasts eighty minutes, the entirety of the game. With most players being upwards of 200 pounds in rugby, running between nine and thirteen miles total in one game, all while hitting each other head on and controlling a ball, American Football gets dwarfed in terms of athleticism. In Football play consistently stops, time outs are called, and many players on the field spend most of the game not running, but rather blocking or throwing the ball, which in it of itself is a question of toughness.
    Both football players and rugby players are charged with the same task, get from one side of the field to the other, but the rules under which they must do this are completely different. Football players take the easy out, have some people run up field and have one person throw it. Rugby players are tasked with taking a ball, running forward with it towards a wall of 200+ pound men, who are running the exact opposite direction, and throwing the ball backwards or sideways to try and gain yardage. And even if the grueling tread up the field with your teammates leads you to the end zone, you don’t just receive points, the ball must be touched to the ground. This means that even if you are standing in the end zone, you can be tackled and you can lose possession to be sent back 22 yard, or you can try and get the ball to the ground have it be “held up” by opposing players. And when you go out of bounds? Don’t expect to be able to just pick up where you went out, no. You will be tasked with throwing the ball into a tunnel of players, each team on either side of the tunnel, throwing the ball as high as you can and having both sides lift players into the air in an attempt to catch the ball, gain possession, and continue play.
    Rugby is a complex battle of mind and body, and right as the game ends, even though you were minutes ago trying to practically kill one another, all emotions are dropped and the true sportsmanship of the sport comes out, with the hosting team without question giving a tasty meal and some adult beverages. Everything is left on the field as you walk into that clubhouse. Rugby is known around the world as the hooligans spot played by gentlemen and it will always live up to that name. Without question, rugby takes the trophy of toughness, with 80 minutes of nonstop tackles that make you cringe, strategy that leaves you awestruck, and a sport that leaves you breathless.

    • bob

      Your my idol!!!!

  • Andy

    I’m enjoying the debate, thanks to everybody’s who’s commenting sanely.

    Chrystine, I hope you’ll take another look at those medicines you mentioned. Hydrocodone and Vicodin are the same thing, and oxytocin is a hormone that regulates the reproduction process in females and creates feelings of bonding. I’d be surprised if that’s what trainers were giving an injured player. I think you meant Oxycontin/oxycodone. ;)

    As for the debate, I’ve gotten into watching rugby and really enjoy it, but I’m so in love with American Football that I probably shouldn’t even bother to try to offer an objective opinion. Football is more violent. Rugby is more demanding in terms of keeping up a sustained level of hard activity. American football players are bigger, faster, stronger, but they’re not the marathoners that rugby players are. it’s an anaerobic exercise… it’s all 15-second explosions of athleticism followed by 30-second periods of rest. There’s time to let your heart rate come back down – even if just a little bit – before the next play. And very rarely do players play both offense and defense.

    I just think the strategy involved in American football is fascinating. Because it’s one play at a time, it can get extremely creative. American football players don’t have to stay alert for half an hour spontaneously deciding how to play, but they do have to execute dozens and dozens of different plays with precision, all while dealing with the violent collisions.

    They’re just different.

    • Adam Roy

      Ha! I’m pretty confused about how no one caught that until now, especially considering that the article links to the Wikipedia entry for oxycontin.

      Then again, who couldn’t use a little female bonding now and then?

  • Tim

    Lola’s credibility was completely lost when she got to defending “complexity”. Touching the ball to the ground, and only passing backward is somehow more complex? Seriously? It just shows how much more simple it is. It’s like the difference between chess and checkers.

    As to the camaraderie, cardio-vascular endurance required, enjoyment to watch (continuous action), etc.. rugby wins. But as for hard hits, and especially complexity, it’s not even close.

    • Rod

      I beg to disagree – Rugby’s strong point IS its complexity. The play patterns (shifting from offense to defense & vice versa in a wink of an eye) are dynamic & continously evolving throughout the entire 80 minutes of the game & each player on both sides must readily adapt or lose the plot (thus takes a lot of brain processing while being exhausted physically at the same time). The main focus on both disciplines is to accumulate points, & complexity of gaining a higher score is inversely proportional to the ratio between amount of ball handling/passing to number of touchdowns/goal kicks or tries/penalty kicks. Passing the ball backwards involve multiple attempts by almost the entire team most of the time (thus more combinations of game play) just to have the ball reach the score line. That’s why rugby=chess & gridiron=checkers.

      • michael

        bravo rod!

        i agree completely.

        gridiron is a very “war-like version” of rugby.

        generals call in the airstrikes as coaches call in the plays.

        the players in gridiron are merely pawns in the battles, specialty pawns mind you.

        any game that has “special teams” in it is bunk, i say.

        if you can’t play offense and defense at the same time like most sports require then it isn’t a sport.

        as i said before, if i trained rugger players to play gridiron, they would never lose a game.

        as they would learn every aspect of the game and therefore never need to huddle while they await a “play” to be called in from the sidelines.

      • Tim

        Speed of the game doesn’t equal complexity. In fact, slowing it down requires complexity on a whole other level, including deception, play calling, etc. It’s more like chess with no time limit versus checkers where you need to make a move every three seconds. There’s no need for the higher level of complexity because it’d be too late.

        Passing the ball more times does not necessarily equal more complexity, either. It provides more possible options, but the “type of pass” is essentially the same. It’s the same play hundreds of times between scores – just to different people. It’s more akin to soccer, where everyone touches it may times, but that doesn’t imply that it’s complex.

        • michael

          tim obviously has never played rugby.

          tim has probably never picked up a guitar or driven a racecar either.

          speed and dexterity require a whole new way of thinking.

          if you actually tried to play them game just once, you would never ever go back to gridiron.

          and yes, i have played both.

          rugby is ten times more a sport that gridiron.

          and as i said before, william “the fridge” perry is the main reason that football can be proved is NOT a sport.

          any argument as to the opposite will be pointless. you need to be an athlete to play a sport and william perry is not and was not ever and athlete.

          case closed.

          • Tim

            Case closed, after so many bad assumptions, Michael? Not surprising.

            First of all, I never stated one was more of a sport than the other. I stated that football was more complex than rugby. I even said that it takes more cardiovascular endurance to play rugby than football. Perhaps next time you can actually read what I wrote instead of what you wanted to debate. And thanks for the assumption, but I have played rugby several times with Australian friends.

            Apparently we also need a definition of the word “complexity”, which is the combination of many interrelated parts in an intricate arrangement. Having a few different types of players (instead of 30 types) means it’s less complex as a whole – but it also may mean the individual type of player may need to be much more well-rounded (as you said.. playing defense and offense).

    • Amy

      Um… how does “only passing backward” not make it more complex?
      They’re passing /backwards/ for god’s sake.
      Just for example’s sake, pretend you were running on the track
      and wanted to throw a javelin or something.
      Don’t you think having to throw it in the direction /opposite/
      to that which you’re running would make it significantly harder?

  • michael

    thanks tim, for clarifying.

    my case closed comment was to all comers.

    not just you, you aren’t that special.

    complexity would mean that you can play all positions on the field.

    the “long snapper” or “punter” in gridiron is hardly complex.

    he gets paid to do one thing. not quite as complex as brain surgery which is technically one thing as well. but sure. you will need to admit that just that alone means it LESS complex and all in all is not a sport.

    sure there are some serious athletes that play gridiron, but the game itself is just a game.

    tennis requires more athletic ability than gridiron.
    so does badminton
    even table tennis.

    sport requires your heart rate to actually be elevated for more than 7 seconds.

    chess and gridiron are the same. too many specialists taking too long to make inconsequential moves that result in very little elevation in heart-rate.

    the only difference is the fans and the size of the playing field, oh and the paychex!

    playing a few times with your ozzie buddies does not equal actually playing the sport.

    my arthroscopic knee surgery and hours of eating mud is just the short list of the normal things that occur from one’s attempting to play the game the right way.

    rugby is 40 mins non-stop action followed by a quick break for an orange. with no commercials followed by more non-stop action of 40 mins.

    gridiron, a one hour game played over 4 and a half hours at it’s shortest.

    with a huge break in the middle played by 45 dudes for 11 positions.

    rugby, 15 players for 15 positions. no time outs, a mouthguard, a shirt, shorts and boots, socks and ear protection if you are a wimp.

    you play offense and defense. the only time you leave the field is if you are bleeding. when the bleeding stops, you are back on.

    maybe one tenth of gridiron players could play rugby but all rugby players could and can play gridiron if they wanted to stoop to that.

    cheerio!

    • Tim

      I can see you’re clearly a fan boy – I was picking one specific argument (regarding complexity) but you’re stuck on your whole “it’s not a sport” tangent (which is an absolutely ludicrous argument). Not worth the words any more..

  • michael

    not ludicrous at all.

    baseball, a pastime.

    golf, a pastime.

    nascar, a motorized pastime.

    anything with a motor or an animal (bull-riding) (horse racing) is not a sport.

    espn shows poker games.

    is that a sport?

    one way to look at it…. if the olympics don’t care about it…..

    even though the i.o.c. is looking at allowing golf to be included, they now will include rugby in the olympics…

    so once again, according to the I.O.C. even golf is more of a sport than gridiron. even thought that is hardly a sport.

  • mark

    rugby league is not as hard hitting than nrl footy and grid iron also isnt as hard hitting for the simple fact as every one has been saying padding not only does cause greater damage but it also protects most of the damage inflicted nrl players get lined up and run into at full force and alot of the time at a blind angle when impact occours bones brake and skin split and alot of bleeding you could just imagine the brousing with no protection factor being painfull .in saying that rugby still is harder hitting than grid iron i would dare america to bring their best to australia and play against a good local 1st grade team they wont last more than 30 minutes nrl is high out put plus the impact and for a long period . i still have respect for grid iron after all of what i have said as a general overview is that all three codes are very hard hitting and pain factor would not be a great deal different from one or to other

  • Rukhage

    Obviously the arguments here are being based on several different factors. In order to make a more clear and balanced argument we have look at the varying cleavages in these sports. What brings them together, what sets them apart.

    First off, let me just say that I am a non-US American (Argentine actually) and have played rugby all my life, but I’ve also been watching the NFL for over 14 years and love it!

    Ok lets move then to the differentiating factors:

    1. Toughness

    We seem to be arguing that one sport is tougher than the other. What are we basing our arguments on: size? speed? endurance? Both sports breed equally magnificent athletes (unlike NASCAR or F1 racers), but with varying degrees of skills. Gridiron is fun to watch because you see the different specialties in the field; but the overall feeling is that each person has a special place in the team to do only a certain amount of tasks. Rugby on the other hand trains and breeds you to be an all-around player: this means that everyone from the prop to the fullback (1 to 15) has to know how to tackle, run, pass, kick and make decision on the fly. So rugby demands way more endurance. NFL players have amazing physicality and seeing a DT rush 10 metres to maul a QB is one of my favorite moments of watching an NFL game; yet I doubt that he would have the energy to keep that up for say a continuous four to five minutes. Still the sheer brute force to escape something that size is impressive and I think only a handful of pro ruggers can do that now.

    2. Complexity

    Both sports rely on the concept of “controlled aggression”, meaning that the violence has a means to an end: scoring. Both sports have their roots in old English codes of football dating back to the 1860′s so in a sense they both share many things. I’ve read that some people argue that gridiron is more complex because it requires to know tons and tons of plays by heart. Yes, there is merit to this and much more, and yet there is no sense of improvisational flare in gridiron. Rugby demands that the players be able to make decisions on the fly, and doing that with no stops requires another sort of mental complexity. If you take the two playmakers from both sports and compare them, you’ll notice similarities and differences; this doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, but it means that their approach to playmaking is radically different. An NFL QB is the general on the field, he needs to be quick on his feet and have pinpoint accuracy with his throws. He has to know where all his players are in order to be able to make decisions, and sometimes does have to improvise. Now lets look out rugby’s number 10, better known as the flyhalf. Like with QB they come in all shapes and sizes, but yet the flyhalf needs to be able to do everything else his teammates do: tackle, pass, kick and run; and he has the added pressure of having to come up with playmaking decisions on the fly. The flyhalf has a more demanding job because he has to switch from offensive to defensive mode very quickly. So the complexity we see here is simple: NFL QBs are very specialized and are a treat to watch when they execute those 50 yard touchdown passes, names like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb come to mind; rugby flyhalfs have to be constantly sharp and make judgement calls way faster (Dan Carter, Johnny Wilkinson and Juan Martin Hernandez spring forth) In the end if we do a warlike comparison we can say that NFL QBs are more along the lines of field commanders directing the assault, whilst rugby flyhalfs are guerrilla leaders whom have to be able to direct and do things on their own much more frequently.

    3. Camaraderie

    In a sense, both these team sports create better bonds than other team sports (pansy-ass soccer comes to mind), rugby has its deepest core values set in its social norms: it doesnt matter what the scoreboard shows or how badly you wanted to thrash your oppossing number, after the whistle blows everyone is brought together by the beauty that is rugby: beers, food and rowdy songs that would make even the most gritty of truckdrivers blush. Even at a professional level when two national sides square it off, after the game they all meet up for a dinner somewhere. I’m not sure if this is done professionally in the NFL or even at more amateur levels of gridiron, therefore I more than welcome comments from those of you whom have experiences this.

    Conclusion

    Even though this small post doesn’t cover the several complexities of both sports, we can attest that both codes have their strengths and weaknesses, and both are incredibly fun to watch. So I say to you, why argue and embitter ourselves with which one is better, and just agree that both are equally tough and demand distinct levels of complexity. So if you see yourself at a bar or pub with a member of the opposite code, don’t sneer and turn him away, but buy him a drink and revel in the fun that both sports bring to the heart of the fans worldwide.

  • George

    I’m Australian.

    I remember an NFL game between Denver and San Diego being played in Sydney in 1999. (there was also another exhibition with the cowboys and the packers in 2000) The NFL was trying to push the massive over saturated Sports market in Australlia, like they had done similar in Europe. (there are five major sports – cricket, Australian football, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer – with soccer being the least popular by a long shot, all competing for the Australian market sporting marketshare worth over $30 billion – not bad for country of 22 million people – very sports crazy) The stadium they played at held at the time 110,000 people, there were 70,000 tickets sold, mainly bought by curious spectators or some provincial NFL fans. In a rugby mad city like Sydney, thats a good sell!!

    But put it this way….

    By half time there were less then 30,000 fans left in the stadium. Most of the crowd got up and left. The Sydney and Australian media called it a farce and the NFL were humiliated at the time in Australia.

    The NFL is no where near as entertaining as rugby, it is a long winded drawn out commercialised game, that is bareable to watch on television.

    As a sport it lacks in vision and creativity by the players themselves. In Rugby you are constantly creating plays within seconds, each as complex as any NFL play. You need to be intelligent, witty and able to be conditioned enough to take hits for 80 minutes and still think this way.

    NFL is dolled up, dumbed down version of rugby. It is as simple as that.

    • Jim

      “By half time there were less then 30,000 fans left in the stadium. Most of the crowd got up and left. The Sydney and Australian media called it a farce and the NFL were humiliated at the time in Australia.”

      Actually, I’m not surprised at that. The No Fun League is corporate, boring, and panders to the lowest common fan. The NFL fails to understand that their success was built upon the popularity of college football, not the other way around.

      The NFL is no where near as entertaining as rugby, it is a long winded drawn out commercialised game, that is bareable to watch on television.”

      True, but Rugby League is nowhere near as entertaining as college football. See my previous post in the comments as to why. In summary, nothing in Rugby league even compares to the rivalries, traditions, and fan passion of college football. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

    • rugby lover

      rugby league is the sport most similar to American football except for the obvious fact of padding and helmets. Both sports involve the concept of a limited number of ‘tackles’/'downs’, and in both sports scoring ‘touchdowns’/'tries’ takes a clear precedence over goal-kicking.
      And i mean running at crazy speeds and only being allowed to pass the ball backwards takes some skill.
      and yes of corse it is illegal to spear tackle but that does not mean this doesnt happen…. and imagine the impact without any helmet or padding

  • Aidan

    Imo comparing them, saying they’re chess/checkers is stupid, the best way to compare them is… rugby is a bonfire, football is a flare.

    By this i mean football is a far more violent, organized, and well executed version of rugby, but its also far less about endurance.

    In football, everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, and are trying to do it as well as they can, while in rugby a lot of effort goes into trying to figure out what they want to do, leaving a lot more room for error.

    And as for the padding… i think its a lot more necessary in football… because if you’ve ever watched the two you would notice the football tackles are generally far more violent, and frequently violent, without the padding the sport would be practically unplayable due to how often people would be severely injured.

    Imo this makes football the most fun of the two, but thats just my take on it.

    • michael

      aidan,

      a bonfire and a flare?

      interesting.

      maybe if a bonfire raged at full tilt for 40 minutes at the same intensity and temperature then shut down for 5 minutes… as it consumed one slice of an orange…. and then raged again for an additional 40 minutes before stopping.

      it’s the chicken or the egg when it comes to padding.

      they tackle harder because of the padding not the other way around.

      rugby tackles are just as violent but the goal is not to injure yourself as there will be no hope for you team if you come off the pitch.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9PYo-kwtP0

      do this without pads or a helmet aidan.

      yes, i have watched the two, in fact i have played the two.

      in gridiron, what you refer to as a flare is more like a firecracker.

      or a 7 second flare. most flares btw last 20 mins.

      grid iron takes 4 hours to play 2 thirty minutes halves.

      4 hours! why? because the action stops.

      gridiron is a sport where a 350 pound guy can get on a team because of his size but he couldn’t on any rugby team.

      why? because 350 pounds can’t run up and down a field for 40 mins without death being in the equation. and that’s just the first half.

      any rugby player could be on any gridiron team. period.

      you say…

      “In football, everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, and are trying to do it as well as they can, while in rugby a lot of effort goes into trying to figure out what they want to do, leaving a lot more room for error.”

      huh?

      so everything is predetermined in gridiron football?

      if that was the case why even play the game.

      it’s a pretty simple thing to figure out which game is really better.

      ask yourself this.

      would you personally want to be in good enough shape where you could run up and down a rugby pitch for 40 minutes, play offense and defense, take a quick break and then do it again, all the while getting taclked and being able and survive?

      or would you rather be the guy that intercepted a pass at the superbowl and couldn’t even run the ball down the field without collapsing…. he even needed oxygen?

      your answer will tell me which sport is better, even though i don’t think gridiron is really a sport.

  • George

    You’ve all forgotten about the other on field antics in rugby, namely the relatively regular punch ups:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lBl5_IQjdI

    As has already been mentioned, it’s all forgotten about once the game is over…..

  • George

    Here’s some more, a lot better than the last one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npewOxFHmes&feature=related

    Fighting takes a huge amount of energy on top of general play… At least hockey players can glide on ice and take time out in the sin bin. Generally rugby players will continue after a bit of a ruck unless of course someone is sent of for hospitalising someone..

  • Berty

    Well I’m sorry but Rugby is by far the better sport to watch and play.

    Play is more continuous than American Football, the game is more fluid. Rugby is more hands on- its physical contact is gritty and bloody. There’s more endurance in Rugby. The whole team is out there for 80 minutes- the task and thinking at the end of the day is on the pitch.

  • Dan

    The studies have been done American Football (which is actually Canadian) is by far a more dangerous sport. The trauma from these massive collisions have the same effect as two cars crashing head on at 40 miles an hour. If an NFL player is injured it is not because he was weaker then a rugby player it is because the player that injured him was stronger. The helmet (also Canadian) saves lives an average of 18 players a year died in the early years. Rugby players however while not as strong are clearly the superior athlete better conditioned and much better rounded, but Grid is a more dangerous sport. Americans play rugby too in fact they are the two time defending Olympic champion. As far as comparison Football is certainly not simply Rugby with pads. No more then checkers is not chess with round disks. Rugby players are certainly tough but to say American football is wimpy is off base. Americans can be very tough they have dominated the combat sports for nearly a century.

  • branden meintjes

    I’m from south africa and I play under 16 rugby I find it much more violent iv had 2 concussions a operation on my shoulder and I play flank so I find it much more fun than american football I played that for a year it sucked but I guess its in my blood 2 play rugby seeing I’m south african

  • Tommy Atkins

    In making copmparisons there are a number of things to consider. As far a contact is concerned you need to take into account not only the ‘risk compensation factor’ involved in wearing protective equipment, ie the more protected you feel, the greater risk you take, but also the matter of physical and pyschological conditioning – meaning that not only are you inclined to resist contact, your body is less able to deal with it. Which may be why boxers have the phrase ‘roll with the punches’, rather than resist them but also why I have never seen a martial artist punch a hole in a sand bag. So greater injuries in American Football could just as easily be argued as being a result of being less tough.

    As far as complexity goes to a rugby fan it looks like a number of different ways to throw the ball forward to a team mate. And it is all decided ahead of time (Strategy), whereas rugby has pre-determined plays – they are just called whilst the game is continuing in addition to the off the cuff decisions that team mates need to be able to react to. In rugby the choices are, drives, passing or tactical kicking,(grubbers, chips, cross field, up and unders or line kicks), I would also argue that the limitation also create greater challenges – can only pass laterally or backwards, kicking to a team mate is possible but he must be in line with you.

    Lastly I would point out that rugby union is a game where the competion is not only between the team that has the ball and the team that isn’t, but also over the ball, so line outs, and scrums are ‘set piece’ competions where it is possible to win the ball from the opposition, as are rucks and mauls, So in rugby you need to take into account, the rules in regard to the line out, the scrum, the ruck, the maul, as well as those in ‘open play’

    As far as skills are concerned the fact that every player on the pitch needs to be able to run, pass, and tackle, there are also addition specialities, such as scrummaging for props, ine out throwing, goal kicking (from where penalties are awarded, or in line with where Trys are scored).

    I’m looking forward to an American Football Fan’s response to these points

  • Tyler

    I have played both competitive rugby and gridiron, gridiron can not compare to Rugby in any possible way. Think of it this way, in football you have padding out the ass, something rugby players consider wildly unnecessary, if you are fighting a war who is more badass, the side that uses 60 ton tanks that are nearly industructable and have slightly more fire power or people who stand there and shoot bazookas at people? Obviously having more padding allows you to hit harder but it makes each hit cause less damage, also football players only last 8 seconds at a time with 25 seconds of rest, rugby players last for two 40 minute halves with a short break and very few subs, who are the real athletes? Any rugby player could play football better than any football player playing rugby, they just cant compete in a real athletic event. And think about a scrum compared to linemen, 16 people pushing eachother as hard as they can is a lot more force than 2 people covered in armor hitting eachother.

  • Alan

    Most of you guys honestly don’t have a clue, spouting your uninformed garbage about american football when its a sport that you clearly neither like nor understand.

    The fundamentals of the 2 games are totally difffernt. Rugby players are more versatile, but american footballers are much more specialised and can train to masterthe different demandsof their individul positions. Rugby places a greater emphasis on stamina, whislt american fotoball’s stop and starting and substitutions make the game more explosive (How many rugby players have won olympic sprinting gold medals?). Rugby has strategy, but the stop start nature of american football and the element of the forward pass take strategy to a whole other level. Try reading an AFCA coaching manual if don’t beieve it – and them imagine having to learn a 400 page playbook with up to 1,000 plays.

    As for toughness, in rugby you are taught to tackle below the waist, with your head behind the player, wrapping up the ball carriers legs and allowing him to fall forward. In American football if you tackled that way you’d be conceding 2 yards of territory on every down – which you simply can’t afford to do do given that your opponent has 4 plays to move the ball only 10 yards.

    In American Football you tackle from a low base, driving your shoulder on a plane running through or just underneath the bottom of the rib cage up out of the shoulder blade – to stop the ball carriers momentum dead and drive him backwards. Try that on a rugby field without padding and see what happens. You’d be thrown off for dangerous play and the guys getting blasted in the ribs wouldn’t last long either. The padding is necesary in the NFL, because the fundamentals (and explosiveness) of the game demand it. There is a reason why there are so many injuries and concussions in the NFL, and why player safety has become a massive issue recently despite the padding – and your a fool if you think it’s because the players are soft/wimps etc.

    The 2 sports are very different, and both have their positives and negatives.

    • michael

      alan, let’s start at the beginning.

      football is a game played with your feet, hence the name foot-ball.

      rugby was invented in rugby warwickshire so they called it rugby.

      soccer is what only yanks call football as they took a game called rugby and made it like chess with padding.

      it didn’t start that way, but it has developed into a very boring past-time of second plays played by “specialists”.

      the original american football was a ton like rugby, with dropkicks etc. but eventually american television made the commercial aspect of commercialization a made the past-time more tv friendly. read: boring.

      can you imagine nascar stopping for commercials?
      or tennis? or soccer?

      real sports require athletic ability to play them, so soccer, as you call it, means that fat, 300 pound dudes can’t play it.

      they would die in the first 10 minutes of chasing the ball around.

      padding is the problem with gridiron, PERIOD.

      take off the padding as see who can really play them game.

      stop the “huddles” and see who collapses first.

      if they can’t hear an audible call from the QB without having to huddle and then know how to run the play which is called in from 20 “other” non-players on the sidelines and in the”box” then they shouldn’t be playing.

      it’s like the corporate chess game. with maxipads.

      the big difference is that rugby is like guerilla warfare. you have to think on your feet and gridiron is like the redcoats marching into battle. which side are you on?

      there is no “blocking” in rugby.

      you can only tackle the dude with the ball. makes sense to everyone on the planet.

      plus, how in the f@ck do you call it a touchdown in gridiron when the ball is not actually touched-down?

      that’s why it’s called a touch down.

      in rugby, you actually touch the ball down anywhere in the “end zone” you want.

      and until you actually put it down the ball is still in play. so the other side can actually rip the ball from your hands until you do.

      the location you place the ball down on is directly in line from where the kicker gets line up for the “extra point” most players that score thry to get it between the post to give he kicker a better angle…

      ….so if the BS of “breaking the plane” touchdowns in gridiron were to apply with those rules the special teams would have to line up and place the ball against to sideline.

      so dumb.

      so to wrap it up Alan. try to actually play a game of rugby. then tell me which game is more explosive.

      good day sir.

      stop the commercial breaks and watch half the team die from having to actually play.

      • Alan

        Michael,

        You can keep the patronising comments. I’m a welshman who has grown up watching both sports and has played both.

        I know about the evolution of american football from the old flying wedge of the 1880′s prior to the forward pass, through the single and double wing offences ofthe early 1900′s (which evolved when the wedge was prohibited, due to the number of deaths), and the gradual evolution of the passing game, up to the wide open spread offenses of today.

        You comment that “real sports require athletic ability” and that american football isn’t a sport becasue of the 350LB linemen that play it is laughable. Since you like the Olympics so much, how many rugby players have been athletic enough to win world champiships or olympic gold medals on the track – like Ex-NFLplayers Bob Hayes, Sam Grady, James Jett, Ron Brown, Willie Gault, Renaldo Nehemiah (and there are more)? Even the big linemen have tremendous quickness and footwork for people of their size. They are atheletic freaks.

        If you don’t like the adevrts and stop start nature of American Football, that’s really up to you. That’s your choice. Teh fact that you feel the need to run down a sport that you don’t like and have a limited knowedge of, says more about you than it does about American Football.

        • michael

          alan, then explain to me how william The Refrigerator” perry made the grade?

          Perry was 6 ft 2 in and weighed 382 lb, very athletic i am sure.

          sure there are some guys that can run in the olympics but so can some chess players and maybe some golfers or badminton players and maybe even a few bowlers.

          doesn’t make chess a sport either.

          i suppose gladiators were playing a sport then too.

          • Alan

            Perry was a joke, but picking the biggest fattest DT – whose job was to take up space and neutralise 2 OL – and using that to say that the nobody who plays the game is athletic, is ridiculous. That’s primary school playground logic.

            Perry also played 20-25 years ago, and american football – like every other sport- has progresses a lot since then. Just look at how rugby had developed and improved since it became professional.

            You’ll never convince me that british rugby players are anywhere near being the greatest atheletes on earth, becasue I see the drinking culture that so surrounds Rugby at every level in this country, including even the top club level (e.g. Andy Powell).

          • Dondo

            Perry ran a 5.63 40. Not Lomu speed , but better than most props. Perry also had a 42″ vertical jump – could dunk a basketball.  I would stand him solo at the front of the lisneout and let him out jump the opposition. Weight go excessive late in his carrier – but was more in the 325- 350 range. 

        • Alans an idiot

           That’s all they do you retarded idiot.  They can only either: run or tackle. Have you ever seen a QB tackle the crap out of someone? No!

          • Matt

            “Have you ever seen a QB tackle the crap out of someone?”

            Yes. The ones who make the effort to chase down a defender who may have made an interception will actually tackle.

        • alex

          Well, as a Welshman you should be aware of Ken Jones then, Olympic medalist, Welsh national rugby player & British Lion. 
          Berwyn Jones was another Welsh athletics medalist that also represented Wales & GB at Rugby.

          Victor Costello was an Irish national rugby player and an Olympic shotputter.

          Dwain Chambers won multiple gold medals at world and European championships for 100m, but in fact didn’t cut the mustard at rugby, taken on by a professional team, but never being deemed good enough to represent the club in a full competitive match, and eventually returning to the athletics world.

          John Hopogate was an Australian national rugby player and national boxing champion.

          Andy Ripley was an England & Lions rugby player and rowing world record holder.

          These are but a few examples, both sports have plenty of top athletes that participate in them.

      • Jax

        hey, we like our boring chess game!  I will admit.  I went to see a professional game live and it took for ever because of all the time outs.  Amateur football isn’t like that.  But we love our “tv” product for a few important reasons…

        The game has evolved into one of extreme urgency.  Yes, plays only last a few seconds.  But that is the beauty of it.  Each player has an individual and unique assignment on every play.  The timing and skill required for the plays to execute properly takes years of muscle memory/training and classroom study to master.  It is an art to us.  We absolutely love it.

        These athletes train for 20-30+ years, anaerobically for short burst speed and power.  That type of training produces much faster, stronger, and bigger athletes then in any other action sport in the world.  If you do not know that NFL athletes are amongst the strongest and fastest in action sports, then you’ve failed to do due diligence prior to forming your opinion.  Just look these guys up and what they are physically capable of..

        What you get are young men that weigh between 190-350 lbs. that nearly ALL run 40 yards sub 5 seconds.  That is world class speed.  That weight and speed causes collisions unrivaled by any other sport, talking sheer force. Tons and tons research has gone into football training.  Please just Google these guys and look at them up close.  It isn’t even comparable at just how ripped and powerful NFL players are.

        Now all the reasons why one likes one sport over the other is very subjective.  We prefer our chess match.  As far as the sheer physical toughness, you must be a bad ass to play rugby, I will admit that.  But in all reality, the ONLY reason why pads were added were to produces harder collisions.  You know you will keep all your teeth so you run and smash harder.  It makes noise.. again.. it is great for tv and I rather watch it than anything in the world. 

        overall as far as TOUGHNESS ONLY, it’s a draw to me.  the NFL is less
        bloody but internally, the damage is all the same.. our guys are freaks
        of nature though which makes it more Americanized, individualized,
        commercialized or whatever you call it, but that’s just how we like our
        Kool Aid, care for some?

        if you get a chance google guys like Michael Pittman, Maurice Jones-Drew, or James Harrison.  if rugby guys looked like that, we’ve probably like it more.. also, there is a tremendous sense of pride that fans feel for the uniforms, especially the helmet (more symbolically than as a protector).  it stands for our team.  a just shirt and some shorts looks stupid to us.  we want our heros to look like the classic Hollywood heros, in full costume.

        • Rugby

          dont list off players for us to look at like maurice jones drew and say americans would like rugby more if they were his size, go look at tendai “the beast” mtawrira

          • rugby

            when you’ve finished feeling like an idiot, also check out guys manu tuilagi , allesana tuilagi, ma’a nonu , richie gray, jamie roberts, sonny bill williams (also a current professional boxer) sebastien chabal, george north (19 years old) jamie heaslip, so shut up with that nonsense you ignorant buffoon

      • Stuffdaviddoesnotwant

        I have played both, actually very much prefer rugby to football. But I can tell you their is a reason american football players wear all that padding (kind of like the batsmen in cricket.)   Much of what you say is true, but I can tell you the toughness and athletic ability of the NFL players is second to none. If you doubt this do a little research on the 40 times, and bleep test scores of those 350 pound linemen. 
        Give me my pick of NFL players and 12 months to train them and Ill give you a US team that would win the world cup (well, ok – I would have to a better coach then me to train them, but you get the point.) 

      • Tenniskenw91

        you’re kind of stupid michael…

    • michael

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz0_An6RH5k

      tell me you can do this…. or william perry can.

    • Josh Brierley

      You couldnt be more wrong about rugby players being told to let your opponent fall into you during a tackle. You might be taught that as a young child yes so that kids can learn basic techniques but trust me if u have ever played the game as an adult you would know that the rugby tackle is all about smashing your opponent back in the tackle over the gain line.rugby is a game of territory just like American footy so why would a rugby player want to go back in the tackle? Hitting him so hard he can get back up again. And i think youl find at the top level these players take these kind of hits week in week out without padding. 

      Im assuming your from america? dont get me wrong american football is a great game, but the padding is over the top. 

      • Cheeseapps

        Agreed. Rugby you end up with some guy having a broken wrist most games for club. American football does integrate a lot of force but i don’t see the point of having 10 of 15 guys run into each other. The fact that you can’t pass forwards integrates a new level of versatility that rugby demands. The stop start of nfl is just too slow for me. I need to see continuous plays where endurance is required.

        • http://twitter.com/Dervish_Twirl k.Qadafi

          You don’t think it takes endurance to sprint at full speed over 40-50 times a game? Or to hit and be hit the same amount of times?
          And I would say, given the thickness of NFL playbooks, that the forward pass adds a versatility magnitudes greater than Rugby. Mind, in football you can pass forward AND back.

    • John Partle

      Alan, that view of rugby tackling is horrifically outdated, they haven’t tackled like that for decades.  If you think most rugby tackles aren’t high impact, driving or directed to the upper body, try typing ‘rugby tackles’ into youtube and watch some of the many videos that will appear.

    • MOMO

      hey just  correction on the rugby union style tackle, a “run of the mill” tackle isn’t aimed below the waist but directly to the hips, my old coach one told me never take your eyes off the hips, and the aim is to drive them down and forward and for the tackler to always stay on their feet,  rugby union players are told not to tackle high as if the opposing player is not grounded they do not have to release the ball ad would instead force a maul. In rugby league on the other hand a player just needs to be stopped to force them to stop and “play the ball’ which is why in rugby league there is often higher tackles without use of arms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMIZpIs0pmw ( a video of big rugby league hits) but the main thing is the tackles are different cause your aiming for a different outcome, a point of yours i agree with.

       

    • Twak4eva

      have to agree, two different games. i haven’t seen too many olympic sprinters running with a ball in their hands, this dynamic of having to run while holding a ball in ones arms would affect times as was proven when a rugby league winger out sprinted an olympic sprinter while both carried a ball… this affects balance tremendously, so i don’t read much into that statement about Gridiron vs Rugby sprinters al. Also, tackling in rugby is done not only below the waist, but also into the chest area, side area and anywhere else except the head. It just seems to the uninitiated spectator that gridiron is too slow with players coming and going all the time. gridiron has taken a simple game of running, tackling and passing and over complicated it to the point where no one else much around the world care much for the game.

    • Chris

      I’m sorry, I love watching and playing (admittedly not competitively) American Football and I don’t have any complaints about the equipment as the contact is more collision based. But by what you’ve been saying it sounds like you’ve never watched a rugby game. You may get taught to tackle ‘cheek to cheek’ as it were from a young age when learning basics of rugby, but as you get older and the competitiveness increases the emphasis is very much on putting the player with the ball on his arse. You say that in a rugby you wouldn’t see a tackle going in just under the ribs to drive him backwards and that a player will be sent off for it? Have you ever heard of a dump tackle? Also would it not be better to give up 2 yards with a tackle around the legs rather than ten yards due to a miss tackle which so often happens in American Football? And yes, I do love my rhetorical questions.
      I believe Josh Lewsey will prove my point with this perfectly legal tackle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3cnss1UMO8

    • Cody

      wow you are clearly retarded, its only a dangerous tackle if it is above the shoulders, rugby players get crushed in the rib cage if they are dumb, taking someone by the legs is the most efficent way for tackling. Also in rugby there is no break, we don’t sit like panzys after one hit, we get up then hit the next guy, and you know what we do right after that. Well your not very smart so I don’t think you’ll be able to know what happens next but we get up and hit the next guy. We don’t get off the field and take a water break.

      • Vaughn

        You are so ignorant its not even funny to say that a hit is only dangerous above the shoulders your dumb its so many injuries underneath the belt that would happen more often than rugby (torn mcl,torn acl, broken legs, broken foot, even a spinal injury) football careers often end in a leg or knee injury

      • Vaughn

        Its obvious that you`ve never played football or else youd no that unlike Rugby football is a game of strategy if you didnt know so those water breaks are to discuss strategy while having water dumbass

    • Iamfree877

      I can out run out hit and out muscle any football player they are slow cant hit worth shit and only a few can actually do any hitting damage

    • Stan

      I assume youve never watched Rugby League then?

  • michael

    or this alan….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdiEcSdIqbs

    keep in mind that after every hit like this no one calls upstairs to see what to do next..

    they just keep playing and playing and playing and playing for 40 mins a half.

    then they do it again for 40 minutes.

    once again, good day sir.

  • Tommy Atkins

    There has been a lot made of tackling round the legs in rugby, but that is not the only legitimate form of tackling – you can drive into the torso, you just need to wrap your arms round as well, and if you are doing so with your shoulder, you still don’t need pads/body armour. So the arguement that body armour is necessary to prevent opponents progressing does not hold water. The ‘around the legs tackle is likely to be the tiny guy stopping the really big one.

    Now let’s look at the ‘specialist skills’ arguement.

    1. Tackling – if you need equipment to perform an action that can be properly performed without that equipment your skill level is inevitably lower that of soemone who doesn’t need the equipment. So the ‘specialist’ tackling skills of an American Footballer are of a lower standard than the generalist rugby player. Add in the need to tackle only the player with the ball and you add accuracy to the required skills of the rugby player.

    2. Kicking, It seems kickers either kick the ball long or kick for goal in front of posts. In rugby the kicking can be a ‘touch finder, an ‘up and under’, a chip, a gruber, or a box kick, in addition to the less precise long kick. Plus penalty kick are from where the penalty was awarded – so possibly out by the touchline and not merely in front of the goal posts. So the ‘specialist’ kicking skills are of a lower standard

    3. Passing and Catching – There appears to be no ‘chase and competition for the ball for kicks, nor any attemp to kick behind a player, requiring difficulty of catching, so it’s hard to see how the specialist recievers have anything like as much skill as the generalist rugby counterparts. For Passing the Quarter back throws the ball forward whilst stationary, in rugby the are the conventional passes, reverse passes, and flip passes, plus the need to pass whilst running, and to pass whilst being tackled. So once again the ‘generalist’ rugby players have greater skills than the specialist American Footballers.

    4. Which leaves skills such as scrummaging, rucks and mauls and line outs no comparison and the rugby player who has to be able to run, pass and tackle (all of them) also have specialist skills.

    5. Mental Awareness. Here is where rugby outscores, as there are both set plays and ‘off the cuff. These are most apparant at ‘Line-out’ Calls, or calls from Scrums, Mauls or Rucks. Which players are required to respond to whilst he game is continuing, rather than after play has stopped. They are expected to ‘read what is happening and respond, either in support of their team mates in attack as well as in competition for the ball.The idea that American Football is more mentally challeging seems to be based on the idea that rather than thinking for themselves, they do what they arre told after having a few seconds to think about it.

    6. Size and Strength – the only area, apart from ability to get injured (please see my previous post) where American Football can claim an advantage. Against which Rugby has a clear advantage in stamina and endurance. It is also the game where skill can trump both speed and strength. Which is why little Shane Williams has a far better scoring record than former Olympic Hurdler Nigel Walker.

    So to me the arguement of greater skills due to specialism does not stand up, particulary given the far lesser opportunities for skill to trump strength/speed.

    • michael

      great job tommy atkins…

      i can hear the yanks now…. “but you need to be 350 pounds to block a guy who is 350 pounds.” he’s a specialist! bah humbug!

      i bet i could train a team of rigger players the rules to gridiron and win the superbowl in one season.

      we will even wear the silly padding and kill the other teams at their own game.

      • michael

        rigger should read rugger. damn spell check

      • JS

        @ Michael,

        Good grief, you and all the “padding” theorists are nothing short of complete idiots.

        Get this through the mush that can only be called your “brain” in the most academic of contexts: Take away the pads in American football, and with the types of hits inflicted, people would die.

        Unlike you, who I guarantee has ever played football, I’ve played rugby. Sure, it’s tough. It takes stamina. But to try and say it’s “tougher,” “more difficult,” “more complicated” than football? Absolute BS.

        And no, no “Yank” who knows anything about football–particularly from first-hand experience–would say something as bone-crushingly stupid and ignorant as:
        “but you need to be 350 pounds to block a guy who is 350 pounds.”

        Check yourself, MATE, where you do you get this rubbish? On almost every play a smaller player has to block against much larger opponents, particularly on pass plays, e.g. 180-lb 3rd down “scatback” has to pick up a blizing 260-lb linebacker. Or on a running play, a 170-lb wide receiver crashes down on a 280-lb defensive end…or a fullback having to take on a 300+ lb defensive tackle.

        And then you up the ante on stupid and claim you could take rugby players, train them in football, and they’d “kill” an American football team? Asinine to the nth degree. My man, you could train THE BEST rugby players for a year in American football, and they would get WAXED by most American JUNIOR college football teams, not to speak of the minor 4-year universities.

        Here’s a challenge: Go sign up for one of the many “gridiron” teams springing up all over Europe/Aus/NZ. Put on the girlie pads and see how you do. My money is on “not well.”

        • Rukhage

          Eh, I don’t know. You take any of the Pacific Islander teams and I’m sure they’d be a force to be reckoned with. Brian Lima as a linebacker is a scary thought for any opponent. And imagine Napoloni Nalanga playing wide receiver. :P

          Those boys are built big, and even the heaviest set of the Tongans, Fijians or Samoans can still run 100 meter dash in under 11 seconds. Rugby conditions them for massive endurance as well as bone crunching hits.

          There’s a reason even the Springboks shudder playing against the Pacific Island nations.

          • michael

            @Rukhage that’s where i will start my team,

            big dudes with endurance.

            this is going to be a cakewalk.

            thanks for the help.

          • Jim

            “Eh, I don’t know. You take any of the Pacific Islander teams and I’m sure they’d be a force to be reckoned with. Brian Lima as a linebacker is a scary thought for any opponent.”

            Um….no not really, he’s just too small to be a linebacker in the NFL. Let’s compare your Poly guy with a NFL Poly linebacker ;
            Brian Lima: Height 1.83 m; Weight 97 kg
            Lofa Tatupu: Height 1.83 m Weight: 113 kg*
            Rey Maualuga: Height 1.88 m Weight: 116 kg
            Junior Seau: Height: 1.91 m Weight: 112 kg
            It should be noted that Lofa is considered smallish for a NFL linebacker.

            Now for Napoloni Nalanga; Height 1.91 m; Weight 100 kg
            Tony Moeaki; Height 1.93 m; Weight 114 kg*

            Note: Moeaki is a Tight End, not a Wide Reciever, maybe if Nalanga hit the weightroom and put on some weight he might make it as a TE. I’m also not sure if their are any Poly boys who play WR, then again I could be wrong.

            “Those boys are built big, and even the heaviest set of the Tongans, Fijians or Samoans can still run 100 meter dash in under 11 seconds. Rugby conditions them for massive endurance as well as bone crunching hits.

            There’s a reason even the Springboks shudder playing against the Pacific Island nations.”

            Well, if they ever wanted to make it in the NFL or college team, they’d have to hit the weight room. Troy Polumalu is a good example of a speedy but strong Strong Safety.

    • Alan

      Tommy,

      Sorry, but the points that you make don’t withstand scrunity.

      1. Tackling
      The “from tackle” in American football is to wrap up the ball carrier, albeit an above the waist tackle. However, over the last 20-30 years there has been an emphasis on big hits where player will simply blast a guy of his feet. You get both tackles/hits in American football, as well as rugby style tackles in some situations. Your last comment makes no sense, as you can only “tackle” the guy with the ball in American football too. You can block as well but that is a totally different skill to tackling, and one which is totally absent in rugby and which significantly increases the amount of contact and punishment that you take in American Football.

      2. Kicking
      You are right that there isn’t as much kicking, or the same variety in the NFL. That’s no bad thing, because to me the kick, kick, kick nature of international rugby in the northern hemisphere is the worst part of the game – and also why we are so technically inferior to the much more entertaining southern hemisphere teams.

      As an Amercian Football punter you don’t kick for distance. It’s a balance of distance and height/hangtime. Kick too far, and you outkick the coverage and are prone to a big punt return. There is also skill in punting the ball with the necessary accuracy and spin to enable your coverage guys to down the ball inside the opponents 5/10 yard line.

      As for FG kicking, you are right that NFL kickers have the benefit of being in front of the posts. However, they kick whilst facing the pressure of a defensive team that is able – and trying – to block the kick. You also need to time your swing with the snap, placement and holding of the ball – which aren’t issues with a penalty/conversion in rugby . An NFL ball also has a smaller “sweet spot” that a rugby ball and is slightly harder.

      Rugby players who have tried out as kickers have generally been very poor. Gavin Hastings was a legendary kicker of a rugby ball, but was horrendous as a FG kicker with the Scottish Claymores . He was so bad that they would only use him for extra points and chipshot FGs, as he lacked the necessary accuracy and distance. Paul Thorburn could make penalties from the half-way line for Wales, but couldn’t even do a decent kickoff when he participated in a pre-season NFL game in Wembley in the 80’s.

      3. Passing and Catching
      Sorry, but passing a ball backwards/laterally to an opponent who is running besides/behind you doesn’t compare in terms of skill to the longer and much more accurate passing required to dissect defenses in the NFL. As a QB in the NFL game you have to read defesnes and adjust plays at the line of scrimmage. After the snap of the ball you then have between 1.5 and 3 seconds to read the coverage (to see if it matches your pre-snap read, and if not, to identify what it is ), to scan through the progression of your 5 receiving targets and to throw the ball to the open target at the right spot. You also require precise timing and accuracy, to get the ball to a WR – who may be springing across/down the field – at the moment in his passing route when he has separation from the DB. You also have to do this knowing that you are liable to be hit at any time by a 260lb DE rushing at you from the blindside, who (together with other) is looking to knock you out of the game.

      The same goes for catching. Catching 5/10 yard rugby lateral doesn’t compare to making an over the shoulder catch at full speed on a deep ball in the NFL; or catching a bullet pass in double coverage; or catching a pass over the middle of the field in an NFL game, where you are totally prone to a huge hit from a safety. The hits that you take on a “hospital pass” in rugby, are common place across the middle in the NFL.

      4.
      Your right that rugby players are generally more versatile, as they need to attack and defend. However, NFL players also need some versatility as well. As a RB you need to be able to run and catch. You don’t generally have to tackle (unless your team turns the ball over), you do need to run block and pick up blitzes. You may occasionally get to pass the ball as well, although its not a big part of the RB role. A TE needs to master the blocks of an O-lineman, but also the running and receiving skills of a WR. A LB needs to diagnose running plays and fight of blockers to the make tackles, but he also has to read passes and drop in coverage, or to blitz.

      5. Mental Awareness.
      Sorry, but this is where you demonstrate your limited knowledge of American football. American football is all about reading your opponents and adjusting on the fly – both on offense and defense. You have a range of keys to read during the play, that will determine your expected role within any given play.

      As an offensive lineman, your role (i.e. who you block, and how you block them) within any play differs depending on the defensive alignment, and on the stunts or blitzes that are run against you by the opponent. The OL are often some of the smartest players on the field, who have to master very complex blocking schemes.

      As WR, on a single pass play there may be 3 or 4 different routes that you can, depending on the coverage. You have to read the defensive coverage before and after the ball is snapped and adjust your route according to whether it is man coverage (and where the DB covering you lines up), or if you are facing a 1 deed zone, 2 deep zone etc. You’d better hope that your QB makes the same read as you and anticipates the same adjustment, whilst he is also trying to avoid being sacked. You have to make these reads and decisions against defense that are trying to disguise what they are doing, and also trying to bait you in to making a particular read or adjustment that they expect and are looking to exploit. It really is a chess game, where the strategy is based upon hours upon hours of game study and preparation.

      I won’t even go to discuss the QB position in detail, which is the most mentally demanding position in any professional sport. They have to master huge playbooks, and know every offensive skilled player’s role and adjustments on every single play. The pre-snap and post-snap reads and adjustments that they have to make on any given play are mindboggling. If he fails to read a blitz he’s liable to get knocked out of the game. Misread the coverage and he’s liable to throw an interception.

      6. Size and Strength
      Skill can beat size and strength in American football as well. So can the right strategy. The best players aren’t always the fastest or strongest, but many have skill, size and speed.

  • michael

    @js, maybe you should read the comments laid out before you got here.

    most yanks have no idea how rugby is played. the proof is in the posts before yours.

    most think that the bigger you are the more the other guy needs maxi-padding….to protect oneself. so it’s thru mechanical devices that the sport is corrupted.

    these are the same folks that think football is boring because it is low scoring.

    of course i refer to the football the rest of the world plays, you call it soccer.

    american sports by and large are not really sports at all. most of them are not played in the olympics.

    baseball is gone, gridiron won’t be there, but for some bizzarre reason they think golf is a sport. maybe darts will be added too, same skill set as golf, just more expensive.

    read this js and explain where “gridiron” requires any athleticism at all….

    (sure some gridiron players are athletic, but when one needed oxygen during a 100 yard run during the superbowl…. they completely lost me.)

    from the olympic stats on the wiki.

    —-A sport or discipline is included in the Olympic program if the IOC determines that it is widely practised around the world, that is, the number of countries that compete in a given sport is the indicator of the sport’s prevalence.

    The IOC’s requirements reflect participation in the Olympic Games as well — more stringent toward men (as they are represented in higher numbers) and Summer sports (as more nations compete in the Summer Olympics).

    Sports may not depend primarily on mechanical propulsion, though there were power-boating events in the early days of the Olympics.

    (ed: maybe this is why they need golf carts to take NFL players off the field when they are injured, you would be laughed all the way to hell if a rugby played did that.)

    Previous Olympic Games included sports which are no longer present on the current program, like polo and tug of war. These sports, known as discontinued sports, were later removed either because of lack of interest or absence of an appropriate governing body.

    Archery and tennis are examples of sports that were competed at the early Games and were later dropped by the IOC, but managed to return to the Olympic program (in 1972 and 1988, respectively).

    On July 11, 2005, the IOC voted to drop baseball and softball from the Olympic program for 2012, a decision that was reaffirmed on February 9, 2006.

    On August 13, 2009, the IOC Executive Board proposed that golf and rugby sevens be added to the Olympic program for the 2016 Games. On 9 October 2009, during the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, the IOC voted to elevate both sports as official Olympic sports and to include them in the Olympic program, beginning with the Rio de Janeiro Games.

    The IOC voted 81-8 in favor of including rugby sevens and 63-27 in favor of reinstating golf.———-

    that means there are 63 folks on the olympic committee that will be hearing from the hurley players all over the world. it’s harder to hit a ball with a stick when you are being chased around the field. maybe if tiger woods had be chased like a hurley match he would have stayed home and got some rest. all those holes made him horny, or randy if you will.

    • JS

      You’ve summed up your stupidity, and the chasm that exists between many Americans and “the rest of the world.” The IOC. Really? Next you’ll be telling me what the glorious UN has to say about it.

      I, and many Americans, don’t give two shits what “sports” are played in the Olympics.

      You really think I care what the “rest of the world” play? Soccer? That is a recreational hobby for kids under 10. It’s the activity that many millions of parents here love, since it requires almost zero skill for their kids to participate. They run around and chase the ball, get snacks after the game, and then after a few years they go on to real sports. Yeah, awesome retort, soccer…a so-called “sport” for shaggy-haired Euro-trash and third-world dirt countries.

      And seriously, to lay claim that FOOTBALL, yes, FOOTBALL, requires no athleticism proves you’re an ignorant twit. You keep throwing out these idiotic stereotypes of FOOTBALL, which can only come from someone woefully lacking in knowledge of the sport.

      I’ve played your sport…rugby. It’s not bad. I may even go to NZ with a friend who’s a rabid fan for the RWC. But it ain’t all that…although having said that, I would never claim something so absolutely brain-dead as “it doesn’t require athleticism.”

      Again, if it’s so easy, put on some pads, go dominate, then report back.

      • michael

        yes, you are correct.

        zero skill……. just like baseball, nascar, bowling, darts, football, hockey, archery,

        those things require zero skill too. any kid can do it.

        just like any kid get play soccer.

        i know you don’t give two shits about real sports, you have been conditioned to think that if something contains a team of “men” that use a ball and it’s on television then it must be a sport.

        bowling? snooker? billiards?

        you probably like american idol as well.

        america used to be the richest country in the world but has now been commercialized to the point of extinction.

        in soccer you need a ball.

        in american football you need some much more….. another elitist pastime played by rich people or kids that want to be rich, just like sailing and golf and polo and nascar.

        • JS

          So your real problem is that you hate America.

          Fair enough, your decision if you want to continue blathering on like the doddering, old fool you may well be.

  • Joe in Omaha

    So these guys at the NFL Scouting Combine aren’t “athletic”? Keep in mind, this clip is of just offensive linemen, the “biggest and slowest” players on the field.

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/09000d5d81e7e007/O-line-workout-recap

  • Joe in Omaha

    So these guys at the NFL Scouting Combine aren’t “athletic”? Keep in mind, this clip is of just offensive linemen, the “biggest and slowest” players on the field.

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/09000d5d81e7e007/O-line-workout-recap

    • michael

      thanks joe in omaha!

      very offensive linemen.

      let’s see them do that non-stop for 40 minutes a half. and then do it again for 40 minutes.

      with….no substitutions, no time off while the defensive players play the other half of the game.

      the dudes may be able to run around like that for the length of that clip, but that’s my whole point…..

      THEY CAN”T DO IT LONGER THAN 7 SECONDS AS THE GAME COMES TO A GRINDING HALT.

      i can still remember the superbowl when some defensive player intercepted the ball in the endzone and tried to run it back.

      simple right? he collapsed after not finishing the play and needed oxygen.

      i wish i could find you the clip.

      these guys are good for 7 seconds then need to rest. they are conditioned for less than the average rugby player.

      yes, some are athletic. but so are some bowlers.

      • Kate

        Um, show me any rugby player who could consistently block Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers, Richard Seymour, or Ndamukong Suh for a 60-minute game, even with all these epically long commercial breaks that you all seemed so obsessed with. Very few of them would have the size, strength and stamina to withstand such a violent onslaught. Period. And as for the Pacific Islander teams? Fair enough. Those guys should’ve taken a page out of Junior Seau or Troy Polamalu’s book (yes I know they’re both American but both are of Samoan descent); they’d be about $30 million richer.

        • michael

          kate, to answer your question.

          Jonah Lomu

          and to answer your question with a statement.

          a gridiron game is not 60 minutes. it’s four hours long.

          7 secs bursts of play spread out over 4 hours.

          and they all have the size strength and way more stamina.

          watch the documentary.

          p.s. he’s cute kate, you will love him

          • michael
          • michael
          • Alan

            ROFLMAO That’s Classic.. Johnah Lomu

            You won’t find a credible source to confirm that Lomu was courted by anyone. And no, the bleacher report website isn’t credible.

            The story about Lomu being courted by the cowboys was a total fabrication, created by his father and agent to negotiate more money from the New Zealand Rugby Union.

            Lomu was a very good athlete with great speed for a such big man, but in the NFL he wouldn’t be lined up against 5ft 8 inch 180-190lb (amateur) wingers all day. On an NFL field, his size nor speed would standout. He’d be on the field with D-linemen who are bigger than him, and WRs and CBs whose speed would make him look pedestrian.

            The fact that you regard Lomu as such a freak of nature, says it all.

        • Craigfish43

          read pierre spies profile on scrum.com he’d slaughter any nfl player the guy is a machine and makes jonah lomu and dwight freeney look like a sissy

        • El

          Owen franks, http://www.allblacks.com/index.cfm?layout=playerProfile&playerID=1825. The man is a freak. Yes I know he is small by American Football standards but he would be my pick. Maybe bismark de plusis as well.

      • Alan

        Yawn,

        You conveniently ignore the lulls in action in any rugby game. They most certianly don’t run continuously for 80 mins. What do the backs do when there is a ruck/maul/scrimmage/lineout – they are lined up waiting for the ball to come out. The forwards also get their rest breaks when the FBs spend 5 minutes kicking the ball back and forth between them. I bet that a ball isn’t in pay for more than 45-50 minutes in a rugby game, just as the ball isn’t in play for more than 55 of the 90+ minutes in a football game.

        Is a professional 1500m runner a better athlete than a professional 100m runner? No, they are just conditioned totally differently, for the differing demends of events that the compete in. Americans footballers could condition for greater stamina, but it wouldn’t help them and would come at the expense of top end speed and explosiveness that they need to play american football.

        • michael

          what do the backs do during the times they don’t have the ball?

          do they sit on the bench? do they drink gatorade? do they call upstairs to the special teams coach to see about the highlight reel? do they put on an icepack to stop the swelling of whatever joint was smashed on the last play?

          nope, that’s gridiron.

          rugby players play offense and defense. weird concept i know. but it’s true.

          so if you are referring to the lulls that offensive and defensive player get while not being on the field alan, the you missed something.

          rugby players have no lulls to speak of, gridiron players play about one third of the actual 60 minute game.

          gridiron = 7 seconds bursts

          rugby = 7 second lulls followed by a severe amount of actual playing for 40 minutes.

          and that’s only the first half.

          to answer your question about runners.

          runner are athletes, they are athletic.

          bowlers could train to have more stamina but it wouldn’t help them with a perfect game would it.

          because it’s a skill to be able to pick up the spare.

          if they had to bowl consistently for 80 minutes straight without waiting for the ball to return they wouldn’t look the way they do.

          but bowling is a sport, right?

          • Alan

            You’re just spouting illogical garbage.

            You despise american football – we get it. I don’t know why you are so insecure about a sport that you don’t understand.

            Just stick to watching your “cute” rugger players like Jonah Lomu.

          • michael

            alan, i was responding to kates inquest, not yours.

            she wrote:
            Um, show me any rugby player who could consistently block Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers, Richard Seymour, or Ndamukong Suh for a 60-minute game, even with all these epically long commercial breaks that you all seemed so obsessed with. Very few of them would have the size, strength and stamina to withstand such a violent onslaught. Period.

            i showed her one. i don’t care about the nfl story as much as i don’t care if he would have ever played for the nfl.

            the point was to show kate a reference to his size etc.

            did you ever figure out the lulls of which you speak?

            didn’t think so. no comparison. unless you go back to the 20s or 30s when it was common.

            my comments about bowling are to get you to use your brain.

            bowlers and poker players are shown on espn yes?

            so it’s a sport yes? so any fat, over-weight, out of shape guy can play a sport yes?

            show me the william perry of any rugby team that gets paid anywhere near what he did.

            trust the force alan, use the interwebs to find the answer, i am sure there must be at least one fat, over-weight, out of shape bloke that plays rugby like “the fridge”

            as i said before. some nfl players are athletes and in shape, but you don’t need to be in some of the positions on the field. hell, i could find waterpolo players that could outrun 99% of any nfl player, but you prolly think waterpolo is for pussies.

            gridiron has deteriorated to the point of bowling or darts or wiffle ball.

            …..maybe that’s too harsh

            now can you answer the question about the lulls?

            p.s. we have non-cute ones too. chabal, s’il vous plait.

            merci

  • niko

    @ michael,

    Wow, such vitriol for American football. Your incessant whining on this topic makes me you think you’re just jealous because you know you could never compete in “gridiron,” and most likely throw like a girl.

    First of all, update your references. William Perry played 25 years ago. And you’re trying to use him as some example of how “all” American football players are fat and out of shape. Dumb. And just so ya know, for a few years Perry was very good at his position.

    But if we’re going to cherry-pick, let’s be a little more modern and mention Dan Lyle. You know, the American who couldn’t make an NFL roster, but then went to England and DOMINATED while playing rugby for Bath. And this was after he took up the sport less than 2 years earlier.

    There are many stories like that at universities all over the US…football players who were pretty good in high school, but didn’t get a scholarship/couldn’t make the football team in college. What to do? Hey, play rugby, because the skill set required is nowhere near what it is in football. There’s more than a few of those guys that have played for UC Berkeley, the most storied college rugby program in the US.

    Find me a rugger, even one of the Pacific Islanders you have a man-crush on, that, without ever having played football, could take up the sport, and not just MAKE and NFL team, but make the team and DOMINATE. And an actual every down position player, not a just a kicker or punter like Darren Bennett (Aussie Rules, but the point stands).

  • michael

    put some maxi-padding of this guy!

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/yt-YVa7eCmLFk8/chabal/

    let him play for 7 seconds at a time, only on defense.

    mais oui, mon frère, vous serez surpris.

  • michael

    yes, rukhage, pure huff.

    but put some maxi-pads on that guy and let him at william perry.

  • Kate

    Alan: Thanks for addressing Lomu’s abilities rather than telling me he’s cute. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. You’ve summed up my overall impressions from watching rugby here in Australia, which is that even the fastest big guys would be undersized and of average speed (at best) in the NFL. Michael’s slo-mo Chabal highlights further reinforce that impression. He certainly couldn’t play OL (which was actually my question), would be a slow and undersized DE, and lacks the bulk to play LB. Tight end? Maybe? Nah, too short.

    • niko

      Kate,

      I think you’re fighting a losing battle by trying to use logic with some of these dolts. People like michael, who has a man-crush on Lomu, just don’t get it. They marvel at him in rugby because he was/is seen as this freak who did things few before him could. But what they can’t wrap their brain around is the fact that “freaks” like Lomu are a DIME-A-DOZEN in American football. As I mentioned previously, a guy like Dan Lyle, good college football player but can’t catch on with an NFL team. Takes up rugby on a lark. Gets noticed, goes to England, and has people in awe with what he can do on the pitch.

      US college rugby teams are filled with many players who otherwise would still be playing football if they were good enough to do so. But they aren’t, so they seek out the next-best thing for that contact, that competition. Rugby. I think rugby is cool, and enjoy playing it myself. But there simply is no comparison to what it takes skill-wise to play competive-level football relative to rugby.

    • Jim

      If you want a laugh, especially after Michael’s claims about William Perry take a look at Austrailian prop Matt Dunning, or George Rose or Mark RIddel or Scott Quinell.

  • niko

    @ michael,

    Wow, such vitriol for American football. Your incessant whining on this topic makes me you think you’re just jealous because you know you could never compete in “gridiron,” and most likely throw like a girl.

    First of all, update your references. William Perry played 25 years ago. And you’re trying to use him as some example of how “all” American football players are fat and out of shape. Dumb. And just so ya know, for a few years Perry was very good at his position.

    But if we’re going to cherry-pick, let’s be a little more modern and mention Dan Lyle. You know, the American who couldn’t make an NFL roster, but then went to England and DOMINATED while playing rugby for Bath. And this was after he took up the sport less than 2 years earlier.

    There are many stories like that at universities all over the US…football players who were pretty good in high school, but didn’t get a scholarship/couldn’t make the football team in college. What to do? Hey, play rugby, because the skill set required is nowhere near what it is in football. There’s more than a few of those guys that have played for UC Berkeley, the most storied college rugby program in the US.

    Find me a rugger, even one of the Pacific Islanders you have a man-crush on, that, without ever having played football, could take up the sport, and not just MAKE and NFL team, but make the team and DOMINATE. And an actual every down position player, not a just a kicker or punter like Darren Bennett (Aussie Rules, but the point stands).

    • Rhys

      Wait.. he dominated while playing for Bath? You think playing well for an average English club team is success in rugby? Send a player over to NZ or South Africa and see how they go before claiming that they can “dominate” at the sport. I have never witnessed an American rugby player that is actually world class, which is probably the reason why the national team is so bad.

  • Rukhage

    You all seem to be forgetting that rugby went professional a little over 20 years ago. Before that we’re talking about Sunday warriors whom happened to be good. Especially in the UK, most of the players were all university students and graduates. Famous case, JPR Williams (best sideburns in sport :P ) played for Wales from 1960 to 1981 and graduated a surgeon from St. Mary’s college in London.

    The first true professional rugbier was David Campese and he was a total twat.

    So in this sense, gridiron had way more time to become truly professional and therefore bred pure professionals from the get-go. We’re only seeing the beginning of professional rugby. There’s still a very long way to go.

    • Jim

      “Especially in the UK, most of the players were all university students and graduates. Famous case, JPR Williams (best sideburns in sport ) played for Wales from 1960 to 1981 and graduated a surgeon from St. Mary’s college in London.”

      If you hadn’t noticed virtually all the players in the NFL apprenticed their way through colleges and universities for a minimum of 3 years before even having a chance in the NFL. Take Pat Haden, current athletic director at USC, won two national championships at USC, earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, played five or so years in the NFL, and then earned his law degree. Some take advantage of the scholarship and become lawyers, doctors, judges, politicians, engineers, executives, et al. In some ways football is more exclusionary than rugby in that the cost to buy the equipment is too much for some. That’s all before one gets to the issue that for a player to become a professional there is no other avenue than to apprentice at an American university football program before one can even get to a NFL team.

      PS I don’t hate rugby at all, even though Michael’s comments are laughable if not insane. I just believe that the two sports have gone in fairly different directions.

  • Rukhage

    By the way, I don’t hate gridiron and actually I enjoy watching it. I would like it to be more thorough and not so broken in its play, but that’s my personal taste and hence why I prefer rugby since its more non-stop than gridiron.

    I hope those of you who want to have an actual debate and not a shouting match are willing to discuss with me the finer points of both games, and maybe we can all learn from both sports.

    I’ve always found gridiron tackles to be way more bonecrunching, but they seem more single-minded (meaning committing fully to the tackle) than rugby, where you have to tackle continuously and sometimes relentlessly when you’re holding the tryline for a good ten minutes. It’s erosive and demands quite a lot of stamina, especially if the play hasn’t been blown dead. :P

    That being said, gridiron supporters should watch South African rugby, they’re the most physical of the game. And plus, rugby league tackles are way more brutal than rugby union, given that both games have different mentalities to them.

    • Alwyn Smit

      Im an South African rugby player with blood in my rugby, and I absolutely loved what you said about our game being the most physical. It is true beyond any doubt. I once played at u/15 level against a team from New Zealand (known as 2nd most physical team) and 10 mins before half time their coaches stopped the game and complained we were being bullies and hurt their team. We were leading something like 30 -0, and if you know the sport leading that far means not a physical game at all!!!!!

      We are “groomed’ to have no pain-recognition from a very young age.

      Rugby 100- Gridiron 0

      • al

        What can Viaga get you that South Africa can’t? A semi.

    • Reality Check

      Ahhhh excuse me. I’ve seen players of both sports of all calibers (having played myself).

      Here’s the deal: You take off the pads? and have the best NFL defensive players tackle (hit) rugby players? They aren’t getting up anytime soon GUARANTEED! Wanna bet on it? I’d bet my house on it.

      When you have 295 – 305 lb men who can sprint a 40 yard dash in no time flat? Guess what you’ve just trumped rugby once again.  Also we can’t forget the men who bench press 2 rugby players put together… regularly.

      A playbook that makes most physics books seem tame? Again American football takes the gold.

      Guys who suffer severe breaks, sprains, concussions, dislocated fingers, knee injuries and surgeries, torn ligaments, even broken necks! DESPITE all the padding and helmets? Wake up rugby bums! Those boys are BAD TO THE BONE.

      If they didn’t have padding and helmets? There would be deaths on the field… Think!

      American football. Come to your senses rugby boys and girls.

      • Nikki

        We’re not talking about American college rugby players here, we’re talking about proper professional rugby players plying their trades in countries and leagues that take it seriously.

        20 odd years ago, before the professional era, Jonah Lomu was considered a bit of a freak, being as big as the forwards, 6’5″ & 280lbs yet still able to run 100m in 10 seconds, as well as cover an average of 5 miles a match.  These days however, players like that are everywhere, e.g Nemani Nadolo, Sireli Naqelevuki, Matt Banahan, Pierre Spies, the Tuilagi brothers, etc…

        Suffering those sort of injuries you highlight is equally common in rugby, if not more so, particularly for neck and spinal injuries amongst forwards and the front row players who lock together in the scrum.  Fractured, dislocated & broken fingers, ribs and other bones are a regular occurence, you get them taped up and play on.

      • EL

        Put them on a rugby team season and them would quickly become 200lbs. Also the hard part is getting 40yards to dash in rugby, you’re lucky to 10. Power and technique in a tackle are key here, for both runner and tackler. The trouble in comparing them is that those guys tackle on set plays, there is no telling what a runner will do in rugby, pass, kick, step, straight, fend.

  • Bryan Munich

    I think it’s important to make the distinction between Rugby Union and Rugby League here. I would imagine that ‘Rugby’ in this article means just Union. The players in League are often different to those in Union, as League has the ball in play for more time and the players have to keep moving in the defensive line, meaning that the players not only have to take massive hits, but they have to have outstanding stamina, too. Having played both codes at a very high level, I can confirm that I found RL to be the tougher all-round game of the two codes. I have never played American Football, but wouldn’t have minded having a go.

    • Alwyn Smit

      Im an Union player…but I do agree with you. League definitely demands more from you physically. Union demands as much possible a combination mentally and physically.

  • paul

    i’m sorry, but football is nowhere near rugby in the aggressiveness. i’ve been at the bottom of a ruck where it’s legal to get rucked out (stepped on) with studded boots by the opposing team. but even rugby is getting civilised now, with spear tackles being banned. in the old days if you go down neck first, that was just called a good tackle :P

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  • M.Mundy

    As a football widow of long standing, i have always been bored silly by overpaid pro football players, loaded to the gills with steroids and painkillers, padded and taped with all the latest in protective equipment, complaining about how tough their job is. Rugby is, at least an honest sport. If ya ain’t tough, don’t play. And when someone tries to injure or maim you on the field, it is not personal. I would much prefer to watch rugby. But cable caters to to the football wannabees, and it has been years since I have seen a good game.

  • jmcressman

    Interesting read! I recently moved to Australia and have been taking in a lot of rugby league. After seeing the first game of the 2011 State of Origin, I was so inspired I wrote the following letter to the editor of my local paper:

    Hard-hitting Origin a reason to be proud 

    I’M A Canadian who has had the wonderful opportunity to live on the Sunshine Coast for the last three months.                
    As a lifelong ice hockey and American football fan, I thought I had been witnessing the pinnacle of smash-mouth, hard-hitting athletic competition. This all changed when I took in State of Origin I on Wednesday night. When I heard the unfamiliar Australian national anthem for the first time pre-game, I had chills running down my spine.                
    The intensity levels of the first 20 minutes had my eyes widened and my jaw hitting the floor with each bone-crunching hit.                
    Be proud of your win Queensland. Be proud of you valiant effort New South Wales. But most of all, be proud Australia for being able to experience one of the truly great sporting events in the world once a year.

    JOEL CRESSMAN
    Alexandra Headland

    I wrote about the full story of the experience too (for those interested…): http://jmcressman.blogspot.com/2011/05/letter-to-editor.html

    I love league and can’t wait for State of Origin II!!

  • Alasdair

    I honestly think that rugby is a better all round sport. I enjoy seeing the massive smashes in american football and seeing quaterbacks run over people’s backs in order to score but as far as rugby goes I prefer it. The fact that 80 minutes of non-stop rucking and mauling (speaking from a forwards point of view) requires agility and stamina. We’re also expected to tackle and be able to keep up with some of the fastest backs. The smallest back in my team is 5ft 2 and yet he still managed to take out a 6ft 4 goliath prop when he made a break. Padding wise, fair enough we do introduce pads but 10 mm of head padding won’t protect a fly in a scrum and definately won’t protect your head if a player tries to stamp on it. American football tends to have stronger and bigger players, but they’re only trained for one role. A forward has to be able to ruck, maul, conduct scrums and tackles and still be fit for 40 minutes. Padding on an american footballer won’t stop a bone crushing tackle, fair do’s. But to have to conduct these tackles continuously for 40 minutes? Unlikely. A ruggers player has to regulate between power and endurance. And tactics is difficult to apply in rugby, so american football will probably be tactically superior. However rugby relies on knowledge of formations and team work. A frantic defence cannot be organised seeing as there is no break so you tackle whoever has the ball and then drive forward. As much as ball handling is concerned, in rugby you rely a lot more on your team to provide support and easy quick passing. Slip ups normally cost you possesion so you have to be able to pass well and accurately. I find rugby is a lot more fun to play then to watch, and without the breaks and commercials i would probably watch nfl. The commerade ship is brilliant as well. For all the dirty play and broken limbs you will still meet up after the match and drink and eat and get to know other teams. From what i heard, american football is a lot more one man focused and the one man plays his part (blocker takes on the guy in front of him, nothing like mauls and rucks where  people work together in order to create a mass of power to win back the ball). As far as aggression, power, tactics and speicalised rolls go i think the American footballers take the biscuit. As far as sustained hits, stamina, agility, endurance and the no harsh feelings of an ending match meal i would probably go for rugby.

  • Xxkingkaizerxx

    i probably would of gone with American Football.. due to the fact that people actually flip when tackled… but my father once told me of a  rugby Legend called Buck Shelford, When Buck played for the New Zealand Rugby Team they  suffered from 0 Defeats..  One game though, within the first 30 minutes Buck got his Ball Sack Ripped open and couldn`t see through the bruising of both eyes, and still managed to score 3 tries and set up 2 tries.. Years later when asked about this game Buck told the Media.. “ooh.. I only remember the first 20minutes of it” 

  • Pele

    How do the Yanks call their game FOOTBALL and the Rugby Brits call it Rugby football, when both games are all about the hands. 85% of both games is played by referees whistling to stop the game. Half the players are obese and there is more skill in netball.
    FOOTBALL is the beautiful game, played in virtually every country of the world.
    Grid Iron is only really played in USA and Canada and Rugby is played in the British Isles France and the white commonwealth.
    Come you poorsuckers, get a life.

    • Quibble83

      Get your facts right, rugby players are never obese because they would never keep up with the flow of the game, also Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, these are just some of the few countrys that play rugby so next time get your facts right before you open your mouth.

  • Anonomoz

    Rugby wins hands down.
    The brutality of each game is the same, the only difference is that rugby players are only kitted out with a mouthguard, whereas american football players need their whole bodies covered in inches of padding, so that they don’t get any boo-boos. This proves that rugby is for real men, american football is for pussies.
    Also, a game of rugby is 80 minutes long, the only break being half-time. Much more interesting to watch than a game where play goes on for about a minute before having a 5 minute break for the weedy players to catch their breath.
    Why is it even called football anyway? Why couldnt the americans think up their own name instead of taking the name of the world’s most popular sport (what americans call soccer), in which you actually use your feet? You use your hands in American football, it makes no sense!!!
    Ah, screw it.

  • Tommy Atkins

    Just a few points.  Firstly the names of the sports.  These follow the mythology of the origin of rugby.  So first you had Football (use feet to control the ball) then William Webb-Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it in a game of Football at Rugby School thus creating the game of Rugby Football.  During a dispute ove ‘broken-time’  payments in England a group of teams left and established Rugby Leauge Football.  This in the USA became abbreviated to ‘Football’ as further changes were made.(In one famous development the President gave American Footballers the choice between learning how to tackle or to wrap themselves in protective equipment). 

    It has also been said that the big difference is that in Rugby players play both offence and defence whereas inAmerican Football you tend to play one or the other.  That is a difference but to me the big difference is that in Rugby there is not only a competition between the team that has the ball (the offence) and the team that does not have the ball (the defence) but also a competition for the ball, so rugby players need to not only be able to play defence and offence, but to compete with the opposition for the ball as well.

    And now I will submit my own totally biased comparison of the sports.

    Fitness and Mental Strength.

    Kiplings line “If you can force you heart and nerve and sinew. To serve your turn long after they are gone. On hold on when there is nothing in you. Except the will that says to them Hold On!!

    Really sums up the fitness and strength of will required to play Rugby.  Given all the breaks and stoppages and substitutions and Time Outs I cannot honestly say the same applies to American Football.

    Toughness

    Much has been made of body armour on both sides of this debate and injuries.  I repeat my point that you cannot become toughened to contact by being encased in armour and that being encased in armour encourages sloppieness and stupidity. I also repeat my arguement that it is the armour that leads to the greater intensity of hits, not the other way around. (Unless you’re the sort of person who thinks people jumped out of flying airplanes for fun BEFORE parachutes were invented).

    Strategy and Tactics

    The one point where American Football ‘wins’.  Strategy means a planned and pre-determined approach to achieving a goal.  This seems to be about 98%+ of American Football. As every Down ‘play’ is a Strategy. 

    In rugby there are also stragic plays, but they are called by the players themselves whilst play is continuing.  Indeed calling the plays is often a Tactical decision. Tactics are how you pursue a goal, whilst action is continuing.  Thus rugby is far more tactical game.

    Given that I believe thinking for yourself whilst play is continuing is more mentally challenging than simply doing what you are told I’d argue that an over-reliance on strategy requires less mental capacity that playinjg ‘head-up rugby’.

    Compextity

    The arguement has been made that a Quarter-Back chooses to either run or pass the ball to a team mate. In rugby the scrum half and fly half choose between running, passing and kicking and need to think of not only the immidiate result but the opposition response and how to respond to that as well.

    Skill

    Where American Football really loses.  In tackling there is a far greater reliance on bulk and equipment plus in Rugby you can only target the man with the ball. (and if you need equipment to do something that others do without equipment then you cannot claim you perform that skill more skillfully)

    In passing the Quarter Back is standing stationary and throwning forward. And it seems to be the only type of pass.  In rugby it if common for passes to be made laterally or backwards whilst running, or even being tackled, as well as reverse passes and flip (behind the back passes) also made whilst running.

    Catching

    Every player needs to be able to catch, but the kick that a Full-Back or wing need to take from opposition up and unders or attempts to turn them as well as catching cross-field kicks are at least the Same as an Americal ‘Reciever’

    Kicking

    American Football – long kicks and points kicks from in front of goal.    Rugby Guber kicks, Chip Kicks, Cross Field Kicks, Up and Under’s, touch kicks and goal kicks from whetever angle

    So let’s be honest having specialists performing fewer skills to a lower standard makes American Football less skillful.  So does the fact that players need to be big.  Rugby(at least at club level) is a game for all sizes and shapes.

    No Comparable Skills

    American Football – Blocking

    Rugby – Scrummaging, Line-Outs, Mauls, Rucking, and contesting the beakdown.

    Still looking on the bright side American Footballers are bigger and can probably lift heavier weights

  • rugbyplayer

    lmaoo i admit that football players are bigger and more muscular in generel and would probably run over the  small rugby players (not including the rugby players expert skill at tackling bigger opponents) but the question is can he keep up that speed and ferocity for 80 minutes straight. No matter how big strong and fast you are if your tired you will get put on your ass or worse carried out from dehydration, exhaustion, asthma and every breathing  cardiovascular problem under the sun. unless your a rugby player then its just another day at the office.. heres a little scenario

    nfl player: here i come you Rugby bastard!!!
    Rugby player: come at me
    “nfl player breaks tackle but then gets shut down by rest of team”

    Nfl player: yeaahhh!!! “huffing and puffing”
    Rugby player: Run it up again 
    Nfl Player: ahhh okay here i come “weezing and puffing his lungs out”
    “big strong nfl player barely breaks tackle and than collapses in front of the team

    Nfl: yeahh!!! “barely breathing”
    Rugby player: Run it up again suckaa!!
    Nfl player: “collapses and taken to the hospital and dies from cardiac arrest”

    that just a scenario with a rugby player who CANT tackle.

    what would it look like if the rugby player had the ball.

    Rugby player: make sure your pads are tight pussy
    Nfl Player: Come at me
    “Nfl player makes a crunching tackle but quickly notices the ball was offloaded so he gets up to tackle next person right after”

    Rugby player: You cant stop me !!
    Nfl Player: I bet “cough” i can “wheeze wheeze puff puff”
    Nfl player: barely gets him down and then notices another offload than goes to get up and tackle the next player but just blacks out and dies from lung disorder and some previous steroid intake lol. 

    offload is when a player is tackled on his way down he quickly pops it back up to another one of his players keeping the ball in touch. none of this get hit rest and restart bullcrap. i made my point thank you :)

    • Confsniper

      See, the American Football players would have broken each rugby player and the  football player would not have to try very hard. Try to tackle someone who can run 100m in under 11 seconds that weighs 120KG and can maneuver so fast around any rugger I’ve ever played against in South Africa or England. I was banned in Botswana for breaking ruggers legs because I didn’t tackle like a rugby player. I’m lover rugby but in America there is no money in it in the US.

    • Joe

      Rugby player: Come at me…

      *get hit by 320 lb padded lineman whose running a 4.5 40, traveling at the same velocity as a 35 mph car*

      6 months later….

      Rugby Player: *wakes up from coma* What happened..?
      NFL Player: You said come at you, want to go again?
      Rugby Player: No it ok…

      *Rugby player spends the next 10 years complaining about pads cause he has no legitimate argument*

  • Rugby101

    Football is for pussies… I would like to see a rugby team playing against a football team… dudes will be destroyed… you gotta be tough and a real bad ass to play rugby.

  • crusherman66

    Not one single person in the photograph above of the guys in blue could so much as make the scout team on an NCAA Division I team, except perhaps as a kicker. Give me a break. It seems very unlikely to me that anyone on this board has ever spent time in the weight room or on the sidelines of an NFL team to see how mind-blowingly huge these guys are.

    I played for Texas A&M during the 80′s on a team that had 17 players move up to the NFL, and they were all freaks of size, strength and speed. Ray Childress was 6’7″, carried 320 pounds at 8% body fat, ran a 4.7 sec 40, bench pressed 600 bounds and had a 34 inch vertical leap. When he hit people at full speed, you could literally FEEL the concussion from several feet away. Sam Adams, our nose tackle, worked out with 550lbs on the bench press and over 300lbs on the curling bar. He ran a 4.6 40 while carrying over 290lbs most of the time.  

    There are literally 100′s of these guys in the NFL, except now they are faster, stronger and bigger. They would unquestionably KILL/DISABLE someone if they were to give a full speed hit to an unprotected player. (Hell, they did that to players in full pads all the time with less that a 15 yard head of steam). That is why American players are now forced to use pads in the first place… PEOPLE WERE DYING at an alarming rate during the 1930′s and late 40′s (after the war) due to the violence of the impacts that are such an intergral part of the game. And back in the 30′s and 40′s, most of the players in Division I ball were about the same size and stature as modern day pro rugby players. As protection was added and improved, the players got bigger, faster and stronger (if not meaner.. some of those old guys were downright evil). Most of those players would not even be recruited these days to play in college… much less get drafted to play in the NFL!!  

    Now we have players that have literally trained, dieted and studied the game for 15-17 years before going pro. The training regimen becomes very specific when a player reaches 12-13 years old to maximize their ability to play a particular position on the field. The training becomes intense during the player’s high school years (14-18) and then reaches an astronomical level during college. In the off season, a college player routinely consumes 15,000 calories a day composed of 80% protein and 20% carbs while also consuming up to 3 gallons of water. They will spend 5-6 hours a day (outside of class) performing split interval training between the weight room and running agility drills or doing cardio. The average college freshman who plays on the offensive or defensive line will gain 60-80 pounds of pure muscle (up to 100lbs of total body weight) if they are being redshirted. (Gains are slightly less for players who participate in the games because they are likely to be gigantic already from high school.) After 4-5 years of being  pounded and chiseled into shape, roughly 4% (that’s FOUR OUT OF ONE HUNDRED) of the mutants who play Division I ball make it in the NFL. Nowadays, the average lineman (who are not considered to be the best athletes on the field) can bench 550lbs, squat 800, deadlift 600, run a 4.9-5.1 sec 40, vertical leap 30 inches and weigh 330 pounds. Trust me .. this is very very average. The NFL is a league of physiological mutants who have been carefully designed over a number of intense years to become a machine that delivers pain while having the ability to withstand the meat grinder.

    I could go on and on, and I am sure that I will not change anyone’s opinion, and that’s fine. But you are kidding yourselves if you think an unprotected rugby player could last a single quarter of American football without life-altering injury. Making it through a game WITH pads would be hard enough. Now imagine making it through a 20 game season…You have NO IDEA.

    • David-chalk1

      You seem to have conceeded all the arguements for rugby regarding fitness, skill, tactics, awareness and mental toughness, forgotten that resisting contact enhances chances of injury (which is why you have the boxing phrase “roll with the punches) and tried to argue that bigger players = better sport.  May I remind you that it was an American who first stated that “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the Fight in the Dog”. A concept you clearly have no time for.   I am also impressed with your view that twenty matches a season is a lot.

      • Joe

        Really, tell that to Joe Theismann who suffered a career ending injury from Lawrence Taylor.

    • El

      The guys up in those pictures are not reflective of professional rugby players BTW. Looks like social rugby that I would play, me being 5 foot 9 and 180 pounds. A little fella like me wouldn’t have a show in hell at making NFL. Size is obviously a big facet in recruiting. This is what I like about rugby, even though I’m not massive and probably not that good I still get to play competively. Doesn’t stop me from busting tackles though. Technique.
      I appreciate NFL players for their physical attributes but will always find it hard to appreciate the game because of it is exlusive for the majority.
      You should come play some rugby, I see plenty of guys your age playing socially. Mind you they only come on for forty minutes, then spend the next couple days in recovery. Good fun, good mates.

    • Rhys

      And a football player couldn’t make it through 10 minutes of a rugby game without collapsing in exhaustion. No ad breaks here buddy.

  • Bea

    Haven’t worked my way through all the comments, ‘cos its late, so sorry if I’m repeating anyone.

    Someone mentioned Buck Shelford’s injury.  Another New Zealand legend is Colin Meads, who played on with a broken arm against South Africa.  He, however, is reported to say that he looked forward to rugby season, as it gave him a rest from the real hard physical work of sheep farming.

    I’m not sure at what age American children start playing American Football, but in New Zealand (at least the part where I live), they can start at around 4-5 years old, spend a couple of winters in no-tackle rugby, then move on to tackle rugby at 6-7.  After 4-5 winters playing, they’re allowed to wear boots instead of bare feet.  There’s no gender restriction in children’s-level rugby.  Once they’re adults, they have to be single-sex teams, unless its touch rugby of course.

    As a spectator sport, I find rugby enjoyable because the intention is for it to be free-flowing and the ball is constantly contestable.  I’ve found American Football hard to watch because of the stop-starting and thousands of players on one team. Rugby League is difficult to watch because of the lack of contestability of the ball – a lot of the movement seems kind of pointless.  Soccer – I’m reminded of a Simpsons episode which showed the ball being kicked from A to B to C and back to A again over and over.  They left out the bit where all the players fall over in agony because somebody looked at them the wrong way.  Aussie Rules – great fun to watch.  I have no idea what’s going on, but it appears to be a cross between rugby and quidditch.

  • nico

    I played ice hockey 15 yr.s,  high school football,  rugby 34 yr.s —  there is no sport on earth more demanding of physique,  fitness, wits and will than rugby !!     Nico

  • Sil

    Anyone who likes football shouldnt even talk to these rugby dorks, the only points i wanna say is that rugby players take breaks u guys stop to kick the ball and all other gay shit like scrums, it is physically impossible for anyone to run full speed for 80 minutes, even the grestest marathon runners cant run full speed that long, u people r delusional ….football trumps rugby u guys make fun of our lineman being big and fat, those big boys run fast, besides our tackles. Look at warren sapp who was 300 + pounds yet ran a 4.5 40 yard dash, he wpuld be able to chase down 85% of rugby players..all in all u put ray lewis, es reed, troy polamalu, darell revis, adrian peterson, chris johnson, demarcus ware, calvin johnson, andre johnson, albert haynesworth, osi umenyiora, patrick willis, wes welker, desean jackson namdi asomaghua, michael vick, jimmy graham, antonio gates ….id like to see rugby players play against these guys and see what happens

    • El

      There isn’t that much running on rugby field, maybe at best 9 miles. The really draining part comes at contact. Scums are killer for the front row, each pack weighs about 2000 pounds, and is like pushing really heavy weights. Then all rucks, mauls and tackles should be fought for (if the player has heart) relentless. And nobody on the field escapes these parts of the game. Rugby is phyically gruelling that makes can be trying at times when defending on your line for 20 minutes. However football is an explosive and brutal sport that hinges on percision from all players doing their exact roles. If football player was to convert to rugby that would be able to be that massive, who wants all that weight to carry for 80minutes. But a rugby convert would need to do the opposite. different sports, both with amazing athletes.

    • Dan

      all u do in a 80 min game of rugga is run, ruck, get back up and run sum more… it makes football look like a big piece of shit… i want to see one of those faggit nfl players of urs to TRY to run over a real man like danie russouw, piere spies, os du randt, richie mccaw,bismark du plessies,jonah lomu(1995) or  sony bill williams…. 

  • A very ubiased reporter

    unbiased, football is better

  • Magpieview

    Sil

    You do not appreciate the work the forwards need to keep doing, or the fact that whilst playing is continuing even the backs need to be mentally alert. BTW why am I supposed to be impressed as players who can run fast for 40 yards, and then need to rest.

    Unbiased

    Not as good plus American does NOT equal better.

  • Gage

    Shut up idiot

    • Moohoo22

       baseball = cricket for retards

      • Mango

        note that the world’s fastest man is once a cricket player. ;)

    • Guest

      This is a very logical and well-formulated response, and definitely wins you the argument.

      • Layyourhammerhammerdown

        Man, herpes suck.

  • Francis Mulvaney

    when 10% of american football is just play time, how can american’s say it’s physically demanding? Like most things in american culture, it’s a case of too many stops. Rugby is a very physically demanding game, at first you feel like you’re going to collapse because you’ve put most of that energy into the first ten minutes but gradually, stamina improves. 

    One thing that drives me mad is the amount of padding the american’s wear. How much padding do they need? The only padding rugby players need is for their head, not a flipping helmet.

    In my opinion, rugby is a man’s game. American football is played by those who can’t play rugby and think they’re hard.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tinomafi Tino Mafi

      Alot of People died from playing football without pads 18 people died in 1905 alone. Football couldve been banned but President 
      Roosevelt  saw that it built charater and family. People still get paralyzed with the pads. So yeah Imagine if there were no pads now. American football would be considered a death sport. And the breaks . Avearage american playbook has 400 pages of plays. For Offence!! Not counting Defense. And no dumbass rugby is played by people who loves rugby . Football is played by people who loves football. I love and played both . i just hate it! when people talk shit about football when they never played a single down of it.

      • Dragonkin877

        ok i have played both football and rugby and i can tell you one thing. They way they teach you to hit in football is dangerous and stupid. Even with the pads the way they hit puts to much presser on the neck and spine. the First thing they teach you in rugby is how to hit and take down with out putting each other in danger.

  • Twak4eva

    Play a real game… NRL RUGBY LEAGUE google “big rugby league hits” if you really wanna see some pain, and all without the need for motorcycle helmets, jockstraps, padding and still more padding on your padding… lol. Only pussy’s wear pillows under their uniforms!

  • Alex

    I agree that when it come to tackling both sports provide big hits; but grid iron players just can’t tackle properly. You see players managing to make up to 80 yard runs all due to poor tackling. The runner has manages to break numerous tackles (which any rugby player could make), which I do admit is exciting but you wouldn’t be playing rugby professionally if your tackling was as bad as that.

  • guest

    They wear that much padding because EVERY hit is a body shaking collision.  Their bodies are weapons.  There is no holding.  It is more physically demanding because it is about burst, speed and power.  Not just endurance like rugby lol

    • Guest

       You have clearly never played Rugby.
      The one of the main reasons for not wearing body armour is that players would overheat. “Every hit is a body shaking collision”, it is said that playing Rugby is like being in multiple car crashes without an airbag.
      “Burst, speed and power”, you find much more in Rugby as well as alot of endurance in a Rugby game.

    • blight

      why did you put lol on the end?

  • Guest

    What is the better game? That depends on what you like! The rules and athletic requirements are totally different. I think that in a distance running session a rugby player would win out (every player is expected to put in a full 80 mins without a break other than half time), but for sprints a football player would win (as noted elsewhere, lots of football players can sprint at the highest level). In a line scrimmage, a lot of rugby line players would be f*cked due to the impact, but in a lineout the majority of football players would be hopeless as they couldn’t standing-jump as well.

    In short, I like flowing games (and so I prefer Rugby), but I know plenty of people who like the explosive nature of Football. I can’t criticize them for that, as it comes down to personal taste. I will say, however, that most fans of enjoy both games, once they understand the rules. The same is true of Australian Rules Football (my personal fave, despite being British).

    It is like all things, the more things are different, the more they stay the same! All three are great spectator sports and to try to compare them is a matter of taste!

  • guest

    I was born and bred in Ireland and lived in New Zealand so rugby was the first game I played. Its a tough sport, no doubt. When I came to live in the U.S I felt biased towards rugby until I got into American football. Football has extreme athleticism. These guys can sprint like cheetahs and are EXTREMELY powerful (Trent Richardson breaking six tackles? 7 or 8 guys trying to take down one running back?) I hate to hear people from the UK and New Zealand etc. run down American football simply because of something like padding (I used to be that guy) but players still die every year even with a helmet. Everyone I’ve talked to in the U.S gives rugby its due respect but I think the respect should be mutual. If you don’t know anything about American football, take the time to watch it and learn about it instead of spraying on the internet.

  • spudnick

    American football is a contact sport ruby is a collision sport nothing more to say…

    • SueDoNim

      Other way round.

  • guest

    Born and bred rugby player so I am probably going to be biased. I have seen american football hits and they are crazy. They hit hard and the soft pads they get won’t protect all the damage and is for proection. But I think any sport which is an hour long and stretches over for about 3 and a half hours is crazy. Rugby is possibly one of the funnest sports to play AND watch. American football for me was too stop-start and i got bored after the 3rd breakdown. Rugby goes on after that meaning you have to get the balance between speed, stamina, strength and skill just right. The forwards in AF are good sprinters and hit hard but that is where their skills stop. AF also demands a lot of tactics which up to an extent is good, but when it demands having to constantly consult your coach and not think on your feet is really not brilliant. In rugby you have to know what to do and when to do it and you rely on yourself as much as your team, and not some person at the sidelines. The previous olympics argument is quite poor as well-the average rugby player runs 7 miles in an international match which no 100m sprinter could do. Not only that but rugby players have to be able to sprint to rucks and mauls and wingers have to be where ever the ball is which means running back and forth constantly.

  • joshua17d

    guest is dumb thts why he only haves 1 like on his comment

  • Tony

    “I only thank god they don’t like cricket!.”So what you think if they are managing to like cricket and change it name? cocket?

  • The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

    Lola is clearly biased… Rugby on the other hand is considered weak.  I’m a HS football player and I been to England. SO therefore, of course, I would had tried Rugby. And like i predicted it was less demanding than football.

    • SueDoNim

      Maybe… you just weren’t very good at rugby.  Gridiron is for girls, every rugby player knows that… how’s the padding?  do you wear lipstick under that helmet?

  • Matt

    Ummm….American football is a different sport than Rugby and Baseball is a different sport than Rounders. Thats why they have different names. I don’t understand whats so complicated about it?

    You know that Rugby (and American Football) are both derivative of soccer/football right? Why did they change the name? Because it became a different game.

  • Salmonni

    I I have played rugby all my life and to a relatively decent level… and I believe both sports are brutal in the professional field.

    Rugby players do not require padding as you are not allowed to tackle above the shoulders, tackle someone in midair, nor ‘spear tackle’ a player i.e. putting a player head first into the ground!  In rugby you MUST use your arms around a player for it to count as a ‘tackle’ you cannot shoulder charge (unlike what it appears like in American Football)

    It would be ridiculous to label it as a ‘girl’s sport’ as obviously you feel huge impacts from pretty big guys, and at an international level big tackles and ‘scrums’ (where 8 of the ‘forrwards’ essentially drive against each other, not too disimilar to American Football scrimmagers) are considered to be an equivalent impact of a 30-40mph car crash(i have definitely read somewhere that this is true however the speed i am not sure…anyway for 80mins its a pretty intense sport! Reading some current or ex international players autobiographies is extremely interesting on getting their take on international rugby and how demanding mentally and physically it is!

    To call American Football a ‘girl’s sport’ ialsobelieve would be wrong and padding absolutely necessary as tackling in midair, with the shoulder etc are legal and even with padding i would imagine there are a lot of horrific injuries such as leg breaks etc (bearing in mind i dont watch much NFL living in England)

    In regards to NFL average player being 300lb i wonder whether this is true but i would expect NFL players to be bigger and quicker than the average rugby player as an NFL squad is exceptionally large (50 on match day?) and each position requires specific training, quarterback i’d imagine spends his life throwing, wide recievers speed and handling, and scrimmagers, eating and of course all of them gym (i realise my naivety here as training would still be intense) but my point is that rugby is an 80 min game with 15min break at half time…the players cannot be expected to shift 300lb for that period where substitute players are bought on during or after half time and not always even then…also training a rugby player would be an impossible comparison with the NFL as the skill set in rugby for each position is much more diverse, EVERYONE passes, EVERYONE tackles, EVERYONE essentially has the oppurtunity to attack and defend!

    I accept that I am coming from a biased stance being a rugby player/fan but i’d have to say rugby has to be considered as a generally tougher sport requiring moreintense physicality from fewer players over a longer period of time…i’d like to add that rugby players are by no means small, they range around 250lb on average or perhaps a bit less…the wonderful thing about rugby as a sport is that it really does accept every shape and size…you see pro rugby players at 5″6 weghing 180lb taking on the biggest guys who range close to 300lb and you see guys who are considered clinically obese but run round the pitch for 80min no problem …pure guts whereas NFL everyone seems to be of a similar build other than the extraordinarily large scrimmagers so mismatches are rare i find…

  • SueDoNim

    Which rugby are we talking here league or union?

  • John

    Aside, possibly, from players like Bakkies Botha, Schalk, Thorn, and etc., no rugby player would be able to take a full hard hit from a 300+ pound NFL lineman without protective gear . . . and even the greats that I mentioned wouldn’t last a single game without padding. American Football is simply too brutal a sport. The life expectancy of an NFL player is, on average 55 to 60 years, with the final decade or two of their lives spent hobbling about like a lot of broken down cripples! What is the life expectancy of the average rugby player? And what is the quality of their life after their careers are over? Rugby is definitely tougher in certain respects . . . hard tackles and no padding or helmets . . . spear tackles and fore-arm blasts . . .  eye gouging and bullocks grabbing . . . but that is because they aren’t getting hit the same way players in the NFL get hit. American Football is, by far, more brutal and hard on the body. Any rugby player that says different . . . put your money where your mouth is and take a full, hard hit from a 300+ pound monster of an NFL lineman . . . then another . . . then another . . . and let me know what you think then.

    • Rhys

      since you asked there was a recent documentary about how rugby players life expectancy and quality of life (ie from concussions etc) are a lot lower than your average male.

  • dan

    American football:
    a rugby derivative where you can pass the ball forward. Played with 40 men on each side. 
    The players wear massive Armour to protect from hit that are slightly harder then rugby hits.  The game stops for every tiny little hangnail. The players, as you can see from picture are actually skinny. Two teams play on each side and non even some players just kick the ball, dont play.

    Rugby:
    An nonstop 80 Minuit battle,  played in most countries and is regarded as the worlds toughest team sport. There is very little in the way of Armour, the hits are flesh against flesh and bone against bone. Imagine being absolutely knackered , using all your energy to make two yards of ground (its all about territory in rugby) and then passing the ball backwards.  when your tackled, the game does not stop, you fight to win/ keep the ball. 

    there is no contest, rugby is tougher.

  • Rbamerican1

    after suffering through 4 games of rugby ‘union’ and ‘aussie rules’ rugby, i never again wanna hear how this sport is supposedly ‘better’ than american football. no way, no how. yes, our version of football derived from rugby’s sloppy ‘play’. and dont gimme the ‘theres harder hits in rugby’ crap. bull, you might get 1-2 ‘hits’ every now and then but theyre NOTHING like an NFL hit. wow…a forearm to the face….how…riveting. ive seen players walking around during a ‘try’ so no more gloating about non-stop action from everyone. thats just a stupid lie. the dogpiles are nowhere near as violent as NFL dogpiles and youd be hard pressed to find front-line mash ups constantly in rugby where as in american NFL it happens EVERY PLAY.  this game sucks, but hey, it beats soccer at least. off with you.

    • Magpieview

      So you’ve never seen a Scum, A Ruck, or a Maul

  • Guest

    The protection worn by American Football players simply ups athleticism (about 30kg of equipment). If they didn’t wear so much gear, I SWEAR the sheer number of fatalities or serious injuries (like spinal injuries/paralysis) would make it the deadliest sport. Just pit a Rugby player vs. an American Football player. Whoever wins should allow there sport to be declared winner. Use Ray Lewis on Baltimore though.

    • Magpieview

      That arguement is hugely undermined by the fact that everyone gets to stop and rest after every play

  • Becky1789

    same reason they drive on the right…

    They tried so hard to be different to the country that has influenced them most. 

  • Theo

    what i ding weird is that both views are from women

  • Mandeep

    The funniest part is…..once they win a Superbowl or Basketball finals or even baseball….They call the team No. 1 in world…that..to some extent is true since no one else is playing the game…haha…Those teams never compete outside US or never even think about taking the games to international borders….why..?

  • guest

    I’ve played both sports for a while and I can tell you that American football is a harder hitting sport and more fun to play  

    • Magpieview

      Probably because it’s unlikely you’re going to get knackered playing American Football

  • An

    Although American Football is very entertaining, Rugby is the better, simpler and more elegant game, without the need for overly  - and sometimes artificially – complicating the gameplay with loads of rules.  
    The fact more people around the world watch and play rugby bears this out; it’s not just due to tradition.If there’s any debate about which team sport is best, football easily comes top. 

  • Jezzer

    amercans basically took rugby and made it less tactical by letting them pass forward then realized they were to wimpy to play it so they had to wear helmets and padding

  • Oddball13-25

    Rugby is tougher I have a scare on me chest from when a tackled a half back, almost broken my nose twice, loosened teeth while wearing a mouth guard and i have never come of the field I have also seen fellow team mates leave in a neck brace and come back three days later for rugby training

  • kentridge chargers

    i play rugby and football, i love football more but rugby is hands down way more tougher. footballs too easy for me, and seeing that im only 160 bringing down 300 pound samoans, and in football u need pads to make plays

  • Chris R

    A very well rounded and well supported view.
    I watched both sports the Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl was a excellent game and Wales vs South Africa was excellent as well. The rugby match looked a lot tougher as it kept on going after a tackle and was more fast paced. I got pretty annoyed at how after one little incomplete pass or tackle it had to be set up all over again but this was a good review but as you can see rugby is the better sport

  • Joe_HTH

    LOL! Rugby known for bone crushing tackles? Please, all they do is wrestle. NFL players are bigger, stronger, and faster. They would destroy rugby players.

    • Magpieview

       Assuming they don’t all suffer heart attacks in the first five minutes

  • voiceofreason

    America is amazing at the sports only their country plays while any sport from another country is considered too manly and they suck at it. America fuc- no wait leave me alone! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.lunda Chris Lunda

    Now that would be a comparison if you were speaking of athletes child

  • Tony Quan Lam

    obviously written by an american.. I’m sure football and rugby players are as tough as each other but rugby is the more willing to break the bones.. therefore mentally tougher. I hate how I see Americans say their football players get injured regularly.. In every rugby match nearly everybody get some sort of injury aswell. What you expect from a game that almost like yours but with no armor! -.- and still I hear ” Oh american football is tougher and rugby is for g@y pussies…. you kidding me america..

  • Joe Gotin

    I broke my nose three times in two weeks playing rugby. Rugby wins.

    • Ben Hager

      Oh really? That’s cute.

    • Addison Crain

      That’s nice

      - hundereds of players who have suffered career ending injuries in football

  • Phil Tallini

    So its “manly” to severly injure yourself perhaps for the rest of your life just because its manly to wear pads. I disagree. In football you have to have strategy, smarts, and crazy athletecism. Rugby is backyard football.

    • Magpie’s View

      You think it”s smart to run into someone like a retarded hippo?

    • Nev Bates

      have you ever played rugby in your life bro. after the first three rucks and you would pass out from tiredness

    • Eamonn Doherty

      Faggot

    • Ramin Ghafarian

      yeah ur a fuckin bitch

    • Kehl Jessica Tonga

      It’s better to be injury by playing rugby then killing yourself over a girlfriend in American football, who is in the backyard now? Lol haha b!&$

    • Jeff Hunt

      Football hits will also be different but always be harder. Its because of the style of game and this not something that can be logically argued against. Football is a game of inches, rugby is not. Thus, a rugby player can put an emphasis on bring a guy down because getting him down is all that matters. In football, the goal is to stop the forward progress of the runner. IF he moves a total of 10 yards in four plays, they keep possession, if they only make 9 yards, they don’t. This means inches matter. Thus, it means when a 220lb runner is moving forward at a full sprint, a 250lb lineman has to hit him hard enough to his forward momentum cold. Its literally like trying to force that runner to hit a brick wall 30+ times a game.

    • Jeff Hunt

      Football hits will also be different but always be harder. Its because of the style of game and this not something that can be logically argued against. Football is a game of inches, rugby is not. Thus, a rugby player can put an emphasis on bring a guy down because getting him down is all that matters. In football, the goal is to stop the forward progress of the runner. IF he moves a total of 10 yards in four plays, they keep possession, if they only make 9 yards, they don’t. This means inches matter. Thus, it means when a 220lb runner is moving forward at a full sprint, a 250lb lineman has to hit him hard enough to his forward momentum cold. Its literally like trying to force that runner to hit a brick wall 30+ times a game.

  • Dave Langdon

    American football could be so better. Why don’t we see offloads? continous passing? It is not compulsory to have only one pass in a play to make the yards. Could you imagine 11 Manu’s running riot in gridiron?

  • Kristian Stoev

    Also in American Football they “play” for 16 minutes total.. the rest is commercial and stupid shit like Budweiser play of the day…

    • Nathan Chrimes

      They pause the time so the whole hour is played

  • Maria Leshe

    my husband played both Rugby and American football for a combined total of of 22 years, mostly playing rugby -for 12 years….he and our son, who now plays rugby swear rugby wins in the toughness category. both sports rquire lots of skill, but in american football there is platooning-unlimited substitutions and too many stoppages and rest periods, which probably contributes to players getting cold and then sustaining injuries…in rugby its 80 minutes..limited susbs mainly reserved for injuries…as far as tackiling..if you tackle properly in both sports and go through the opponent you will deliver a crushing hit….my husband said when he played fullback in amercian football he loved it when safetys and corners would throw their bodies at him because they would just bounce off and lie there in his dust…but in rugby he faced the best tacklers..and let us not forget about rucks…major collisions happen in many rucks,, espicially close to the try zone…and don’t forget about the CRUSHING effects of the Scrumdown…major ouch!

  • Anonymous

    It’s easy for everyone to have an opinion, but take it from an american who has played and watched both. Rugby is far and away the superior sport. The article bove is a good breakdown of all the things making rugby superior; complexity, equipment, and especially injury handling. Lets also not forget rugby is footballs daddy.

  • Nathan Chrimes

    I played both rugby and American football they both are tough but American football go in harder and faster the padding only covers the ribs anywhere else takes a beating rugby is just holding and pulling down as American football is slamming your weight into others

    • Garry Hacking

      And you can only tackle/hit the ball carrier.

    • Jonathan Pan Gago

      Agreed

    • Bradley Newton

      I absolutely Agree Nathan! Are you down for training?

    • Nathan Chrimes

      yeah i will be

  • Miguel Grossmann

    there is no doubt about this….Wayne Shelford in 1987 got an injury of his ballsack, most players would call it a day, but nooo he has it sewn on the benches and back he goes into the game…. plus american football has all those pads while rugby players go in with something to (try) and not loose a tooth… again, of course american football players are extremely fast and heavy, they just need to be big chuncks of meat that are subbed after 5 minutes, rugby players, heavy or light need to be able to run non stop for 80 minutes… No question here, rugby is better.

  • Haley Fowler

    American football is tougher . This has been proven by numerous scientific studies. It causes more concussions and deaths than rugby

    • y2j4lyfe

      Puffs game

  • joker

    You can get Graham Henry (All Blacks coach) to hand pick athletes from the NFL to compete in a rugby game against All blacks… I guarantee you, All Blacks will score 50 plus points… easily.

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