Although there is no confusion regarding the two games, rugby and American football are two very different sports. Rugby is a much older sport, with its origins dating back to the early period of the 19th century, with it understood that it originated in 1823. American football, on the other hand, was developed in the late 1800s, with the first match played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton.
Indeed, it could be argued that the former of the two sports enjoys a greater level of popularity in the southern hemisphere of the world, as well as across Europe, whilst American football is typically really only played across North America.
There has been a boost in interest, though, across Europe in recent years as the popularity of the NFL continues to grow. Many continue to tune in to the Super Bowl on a consistent basis, with hundreds of millions of people regularly from around the world continuing to watch regardless of the time that it may be where they live.
However, what are some of the key differences between the two sports, and what makes them both considered to be some of the most popular in the world?
Different shape of the ball that is used
There are several key differences between rugby and American football with it the most obvious difference perhaps being in regard to the shape of the ball that is being used. Rugby is played with an oval-shaped ball, while American football is played with a prolate spheroid (a slightly elongated sphere).
The way players tackle is different
Another key difference is that in rugby, players are allowed to tackle each other without using their hands or arms. In American football, however, tackling is done by wrapping your arms around the opposing player.
It is also perhaps clear to know which sport is which by the equipment that is used, as those that play American football wear pads and a helmet in order to protect themselves from the collisions that they may have with other players on the field. Players who compete in rugby do not typically wear any protective gear, except some may utilize a scrum cap to protect their heads and ears.
Amount of time a match is played over
Rugby is played with two 40-minute halves, while American football is played with four 15-minute quarters, although those that watch the NFL will know that a match will last a whole lot longer than the 60 minutes that are scheduled to take place. In fact, on average, an NFL game will typically last for a duration of three hours, due to the clock being stopped for various reasons, including time outs and when the ball goes out of bounds.
The way teams score points is similar
Rugby also has a different scoring system than American football, although the way in which the points are obtained are relatively very similar.
In rugby, points are scored by grounding the ball in the opposing team’s end zone (similar to a touchdown in football), by kicking it through the opposing team’s goalposts (similar to a field goal in football), or by converting a try (a play similar to scoring the additional point following the touchdown).