Besides being contact sports that use inflated oval balls and excite fans in the bleachers, rugby and football couldn’t be any less similar.
From the length of the game to the field it’s played on; from the number of players to their positions; from the rules to the scoring system—these games are different beasts.
Whether you’re a football player curious about rugby, a rugby player wondering about football, or just a spectator looking to learn more, we’ve got you covered. We discuss rugby vs. football below!
1. The Length of the Game (and the Field)
Football games are sixty minutes long and played in four 15-minute quarters.
Rugby games are eighty minutes in total and are played in two 40-minute periods.
In general, rugby fields are a little wider than football fields. Football fields have a fixed size, while rugby fields have a little bit of wiggle room within set boundaries.
Football fields are 160 feet wide and measure 120 yards between goal lines. Most rugby fields are 210 feet wide, but some pitches range from 223.2 feet to 229.8 feet wide. The maximum length of a rugby field is 471 feet long.
2. The Players and Their Positions
In football, each team can have up to eleven players on the field.
The players include the following positions:
- Quarterback (QB)
- Offensive lineman
- Running back
- Tight end (TE)
- Wide receiver (WR)
- Defensive lineman
- Linebacker (LB)
- Cornerback (CB)
- Safety (S)
- A specialized player, such as a Kicker (K) or Punter (P)
The first six positions are offensive, the next four are defensive, and the last member is part of a “special team.”
In rugby, each team can have up to fifteen players on the field at a time. Those players include the following positions:
- Tight head prop
- Loose head prop
- Second row
- Second row
- Blink side flanker
- Open side flanker
- Number 8
- Inside center
- Outside center
In a game of 15s rugby (as opposed to sevens), there are eight ‘forwards’ and seven ‘backs.’ Shop this online rugby store to get an idea of what clothing and equipment each position uses to win the game.
3. Rugby Rules vs. Football Rules
One of the main fun facts worth noting right away is that rugby balls can’t be passed forward in a game—which is the entire basis of a football game!
In general, though, both rugby and football have the same goal: to score more points than the opposing team. This is done in both sports by getting the ball behind the opponent’s touchline.
Football players want to carry the ball behind the opponent’s touchline, which is called a touchdown and worth 6 points. Other ways to score points include field goals (3 points), kicks (1 point), 2-point conversions (2 points), and safety (1 point).
Rugby players want to carry the ball behind the opponent’s touchline, but they must also place it down. This is called a try and is worth 5 points. Other ways to score points include conversions (2 points) and goal kicks (3 points).
Rugby vs. Football: Same but Different
These are just a few of the many differences between football and rugby. You can go much deeper than this to learn even more.
And to think—we haven’t even touched on soccer and rugby!
Speaking of learning more, now that you’ve taught yourself about rugby vs. football, what else can you teach yourself today? Keep scrolling through our blog for more fascinating news on a wide variety of subjects.