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Differences Between Rugby and Football

football-americanRugby vs Football

There are a couple of differences between the sports of rugby and football; differences worth knowing in order to have a better understanding of the sports. First off, the game of rugby requires a much wider field compared to football. There are also some differences in the number of players for both sports. For example, in rugby you need to have thirteen players to get the game going. In football however, you only need eleven players. The nature of their roles on the field also has differences. In rugby, any player can perform the role of attacking and defending whenever there is a need for it. In football, all eleven players have very specific roles on the field, to which they should strictly adhere.

The way the ball moves around the field is also different for the two sports. In football, the players can only pass the ball in a direct forward manner. On the other hand, the game of rugby entitles the players to keep passing the ball in other directions namely, backwards and sideways. Differences are also apparent in the way the games are scored. To make a point, rugby players need to have the ball touch the field, which will earn them a total of 5 points to make the ‘try’ (term for the score).

In football, the players will only need to cross designated end-zones to earn them six points for the ‘touchdown‘ (the term for this sport’s score). Both games allow goal-over kicks, but in rugby, the value of the score is double that of football’s. And finally, football players always aim to make field goals, while such an act is not worth making in rugby, since it will only garner them a single point. Basically, these are the differences worth knowing about the two sports of rugby and football.


1. Rugby uses a much wider playing field compared to football.

2. A football game can commence with eleven players, while you need thirteen to start a rugby match.

3. In football, ball movement is only directly forward; in rugby it is only sideways and backwards.

4. The difference in points is such that a score in rugby is worth four points, while a score in football is worth six points.

5. Football players always aim for the field goal, while rugby players have a tendency to avoid this because of its low score.

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  1. Thought it was obvious the difference – but a few more obvious factors pointed out – thanks

    Nice article

  2. A try is 5 pionnts in rugby not 4!!!!!

  3. One very key rule in rugby is that you must release the ball once tackled and play continues, in football, all play stops.

  4. Its actually 13 players for Rugby League and 15 players for Rugby Union (two flankers / wing forwards).

  5. In rugby there are different numbers with regards rugby league and rugby union (as has been pointed out). A try is worth 5 points and the ball must be grounded within the dead ball area behind the posts, while the ball is also under control. A “conversion” is worth 2 points, and is kicked directly out from where the grounding of the ball occurred. A “penalty goal” is worth 3 points and is scored when a penalisable infringement is made and the decision is made to kick for goal. A “drop goal” is also worth 3 points and can be made during open play, and must be a drop kick that goes over the cross bar and between the posts. Stoppages in play occur only when the ball goes out of play, an infringement is made (and “advantage” is not played by the referee), injuries to players (often play will continue until the next infringement before play stops). There are only two halfs in a game of rugby, each 40 minutes long. There are no “time out” calls. A squad for a game consists of a maximum of 22 players, with 15 on the field at any one time. Protective gear is minimal, consisiting at most of headgear, shoulder pads, and a mouthguard. A mouthguard is the only compulsory safety equipment. Ball movement due to passing is limited to passes that go BACKWARDS, ie the recieving player must only recieve the ball at or behind the line of passing. Kicking is allowed, and these may go in any direction, but all players must be behind the kicker at the time of kicking, otherwise these players are offside and not eligible to play the ball until they are passed by a player who started behind the kicker. Tackling of the player carrying the ball is the only time this can occur, blocking of other players is not allowed.

  6. Bro, you failed at making this. Football i don’t know a lot about, but rugby is my sport. You have too many errors in the guide lines. Cameron on the other hand knows what he is talking about.

  7. Agree with the posts above … please get you facts right….Also please post it as American Football not just Football

  8. In regards to players on the field and scoring, this article is talking about rugby league not rugby union. Rugby union is most widely played, whereas, rugby league is as much of a niche sport as American football. It is only played by a small number of countries with only one country dominating (Australia). It has rules that cause it to differ considerably from the more widely played Rugby union as well. This article should have been written about the difference between football and union as it is misleading.

  9. Yeah, it’s true that the people outside from America can’t understand the difference of rugby and football. Thank you for this cool post. I appreciate you.

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