American Football vs Rugby

A couple of interesting conversations the past two days:

Conversation #1:
Me: Do you like rugby?
Japanese Person: Is that the one the players hug all the time?

Conversation #2:
Me: I can’t wait for (NFL) football season to start.
Australian Person: I really can’t understand that game at all…I love rugby!
Me: relates what Japanese Person said in Conversation #1
Australian Person: What, there’s no hugging in American football?
Me: Nope, hugging is illegal. Your hands have to stay inside a box between your hips and your shoulders. If your arms go outside (like a hug,) you get called for a “holding” penalty.
Australian Person: Seriously?
Me: Yep, I can honestly say that hugging is illegal in the NFL.

Personally I like them all, although none are in my frontline of sports to play / watch - wouldn’t pick the level of hugging as being a particularly important discriminating factor between them myself (:confused:) but like I say they’re not my primary sports.

I probably prefer rugby league out of the three just due to the all-round athleticism it takes to play the game at the top level, from 1-13 across the park. Makes for some epic physical confrontations that go on non stop for 80 mins. Of course each game is hugely physical, so similar arguments could be made for each according to taste.

Along with American football, rugby league does seem to be more consistently entertaining than rugby union. I can sit through a bad game of RL or American football and there will still be pockets of excitement and things to look out for - the baseline of entertainment is quite high. A bad game of Northern hemisphere rugby union is just purgatorial punishment that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Of course when it’s good it can be sublime, but there’s a lot more variance IMO.

I don’t get it. Obviously the Australian person wasn’t saying hugging, I can only assume they meant tackling. So it would be surprising to say that tackling is illegal in American football… wouldn’t it?

I also cannot understand the hugging that is being described. Can you not wrap your arms around a player in American football?

The offensive players cannot - they can block the opposing players who are trying to get to the QB or the ball carrier, but they can’t wrap their arms around them. Blocking means trying to stop the other player, but keeping your own hands in front of you.

Defensive players can - they’re allowed to tackle the QB or the ball carrier.

Can you enlighten me about the difference between rugby league and rugby union?

The biggest difference IMO is that there is no blocking in rugby. That is a fundamental difference that dwarfs anything else, much moreso than surface differences like the forward pass.

No blocking in rugby league or in rugby union?

I am unaware of the differences. Does one allow blocking?

EDIT: A google search for “blocking in rugby” (no quotes) returns a whole slew of hits saying there is no blocking in rugby. No mention is made of a particular flavor of rugby.

There is no blocking allowed in either form of rugby - you may only tackle the ball carrier.

I was thinking about the difference between tackling and holding when I wrote this, but I think tackling includes force and momentum, which differentiates it from holding.

That is correct.

And as someone who grew up watching and playing both codes of rugby, and who has now spent a decade in the US watching the NFL, i agree with Ellis Dee that the issue of blocking probably constitutes the most important difference between the games. The absence of blocking means that there’s really not as much happening off the ball in rugby as there is in the NFL. Sure, people are moving to ready themselves for the next play, or the next set piece, or the next tackle, but you don;t get the sort of physical contests off the ball that you get in American football.

I would add, however, that while the forward pass itself might not be the biggest difference, its presence does lead to a very different alignment of the two teams. In both codes of rugby, you essentially have two lines of players facing one another, and the play is nearly always in front of all the players on both sides. While there is a lot of movement, it tends to occur in fairly limited directions.

In the NFL, on the other hand, the presence of the forward pass, as well as the opportunity for blocking, results in players moving in many different directions at once, and opens up much greater possibilities for players being hit by someone that they never see coming. This sort of hit is much less common in rugby, where the defenders are usually coming at the ball-carrier from fairly predictable directions.

That’s an interesting observation, mhendo.

I was coming at it from the angle of thinking back to the prototype of American football in the handful of years before they instituted the forward pass. That game was still very recognizable as American football, and like the modern game looked very different from rugby. In other words, take away the forward pass and both games are still fundamentally different. Take away blocking, however, and the games would be quite similar. Trying to envision it, I don’t think you could really even have a play structure without blocking; it would have to be continuous motion like rugby.

But I see where you’re going with that observation, which hadn’t occurred to me.

I think the forward pass is really the equivalent of the half backs’ kicks in rugby. What makes for the difference in formation as described by mhendo is the lack of offside. In rugby, anyone who receives the ball from a kick must have been behind the kicker while the ball was kicked.

So American football without blocking but with an offside rule would be pretty close to rugby even if you kept the single forward pass.

OK, I’m still not getting the rule about wrapping your arms around a player. Look at this American football play (which, coincidentally, looks almost exactly like a rugby move), at about the 11 second mark, the player in the 33 shirt appears to rugby tackle the player running past him (wrapping his arms around his legs). Is this allowed, or not?

Missed the edit window. Just noticed Northern Piper’s final sentence. Never mind.

American Football; is i) not football and ii) for sissys

Rugby; now thats a game that will put hair on your chest, if you don’t bust it first.

Haven’t watched NFL so can’t comment. I find League to be a bit one dimensional compared to Union. Tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle, kick, other team’s turn, tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle, kick. I realise there’s more to it than that but that is the general feeling I get from the game and I can’t really get into it. Australian rules football I find kind of interesting in its strangeness. Overall I can’t get very excited about sport without having some kind of emotional investment in a team and I have none in any AFL teams or domestic rugby teams. I find the rivalry between domestic teams to be uninteresting on a personal level. If absolutely pushed I might find myself going for the underdog, or whoever my friends/family support.

As i said above, i grew up playing and watching both rugby codes, and i’ve now spent ten years watching NFL in the United States. I can comfortably state, based on this experience, that the whole “American football is for sissies” thing that some rugby fans keep promoting is a load of shit.

Firstly, the helmets and pads are nowhere near as large or as protective as some people seem to think. And the only reason they were instituted in the first place is that people were actually getting killed in American Football before the protective gear was introduced.

Second, the nature of play in the NFL, the way the sides line up and then the way the players run, means that there are far more full speed collisions than there are in rugby. As i said above, in the NFL there’s a much greater chance of being hit hard by someone you never even see coming, and those sorts of collisions have the potential to do a lot of damage.

Yes, rugby is a tough game, and yes, you can get injured playing rugby. But the nature of the game makes the hits less brutal than they are in American Football. I’m 6 feet tall, and weigh 184 pounds (84kg). If i were given the choice of stepping onto a rugby field or an NFL field to play for ten minutes, i’d take the rugby field in a heartbeat, because i want to leave the field with my body in one piece.

Anyway, that’s the short version of my rugby-NFL comparison. If you’re interested in the longer version, you can read it in this post, which i made in a similar thread late last year.