Rugby and American Football Comparison

On the surface, rugby and American football actually seem very similar. They share basic concepts and the playing fields have a similar size. However, they are also very different in a number of ways.


A rugby league match usually lasts 80 minutes, whereas American football games can go on for much longer. This is because the game pauses after every tackle. The constant resetting is the reason why the US version seems to have a slower pace than rugby.

Recently, UK viewers have begun to be interested in the Super Bowl. The BBC even released a guide to help beginners understand the game. On social media, many new viewers in Britain expressed their surprise at how seemingly slow this sport is.


In rugby, it is against the rules to interfere with players who do not possess the ball. Doing so will usually incur penalties. This is not the case in American football. Passing is also different in both sports.

Rugby is more restrictive when it comes to forward passing. If players wish to move the ball forward their only choices are to run while holding it or kick it. American football players can throw it forward in certain tactical scenarios.


Tries and touchdowns are quite similar. This entails the player moving to the winning score zone successfully. However, rugby players need to ensure the ball makes contact with the ground. Meanwhile, American footballers simply have to advance past the scoreline.

Protective Gear

The biggest visible difference between the two games is the amount of safety equipment worn in American football. This includes helmets, padded armour and thick gloves. Meanwhile, rugby players require very minimal protective gear. In rugby light padding and soft head coverings are available but not always used. Heavy helmets are not permitted at all.