Caleb Harris Nathan Tucker 10:00-10:50 A. M. 9/24/10 Football Vs. Rugby “Look at him run the ball, he just trucked through the defender, one left to beat, and he’s tackled… no, wait, he threw a lateral to his teammate and SCORE!!!!! ” In America, most people would say that was a great run by Reggie Bush or Adrian Peterson or some other football running back. If this was broadcasted in New Zealand, it would most likely be a rugby play. Rugby is not typically watched in America, the rules are unclear to most and Americans believe rugby looks like football without pads.
The truth is that these sports have many differences which include the uniform, the equipment they use, terms, and the point system. The uniforms of a rugby player are similar to those of a soccer player. Rugby players wear a high quality jersey that cannot be easily torn. Under the jersey, players wear an under shirt with built in pads that protect the shoulders and ribs. Most players also wear soccer shorts and long socks. The long socks help when being tackled or in a pile up because during play many opponents pull at the opposing team members’ leg hair.
While there are rugby cleats or boots as they are properly called, most American players buy soccer or football cleats for play. It doesn’t make a difference as long as there is no front toe cleat. Mouth pieces are required because a rugby athlete does not wear any facial protection and this is definitely a contact sport. A helmet is available but I have not come across a player with one nor have I seen many players wear them on television. Rugby balls are small, stout and oval shaped with a rubber like texture. In comparison to a football player, a rugby player looks like they are on the field with just cleats.
Football players are easily recognized because of their uniforms and equipment. The jersey for a football player has to be worn big so it will fit over the pads. The jersey is a polyester mesh that may be thick or thin. The pads worn under the jersey give great protection for the upper body but leave the mid-section and lower back exposed. Players wear tight fitting pants with slots where pads are inserted; there is a butt pad, two knee pads, and two thigh pads. In football, cleats are allowed to have front spikes but in some places, metal spike bottoms are not allowed. Like rugby, mouth pieces are a must in this sport.
You would think that because the athlete wears a helmet his mouth would not be affected in anyway. The truth is that the shock of constantly being hit causes the player to bite down and grind his teeth. Since football players wear armor-like pads, bone-jarring contact is inevitable. The threat to the head obviously includes the possibility of brain damage so the padding inside the helmet is thick; there are forehead pads, ear pads, and padding for the rest of the head. Football equipment is made for high impact hits. Finally, compared to the rugby ball, a football is larger and possesses a sharper, more aerodynamic, definition to its shape.
This contributes to the characteristic spiral of the ball in flight. The terms and point system for rugby are unique to the sport. At the beginning of the game, a scrum is formed. A scrum is where the two opposing teams meet in the center of the field and try to get the ball. An off-side is called whenever a teammate is in front of another team member that is holding the ball. Scoring is called a ‘try’ which requires touching the ball down to the ground after crossing into the end zone. A team is awarded five points after a successful try. Obstruction is a penalty where a player on an opposing team touches/blocks someone without the ball.
If this occurs repeatedly near a defensive team’s try line, the referee will award a penalty try. Unlike football’s point after attempt, the conversion in rugby is a free, unopposed, kick taken after scoring a try. The kicker place-kicks the ball off a tee in an effort to drive the ball over and through the uprights of the goalpost; this gives the team two extra points. When taking a penalty try place kick, the kicker gets to stand under the post to kick the goal. A team is also given a chance to place kick a ball from the point where the penalty occurred which, when successful, earns them three points.
Penalties are often waved off if they don’t obstruct the play badly enough to ‘advantage’ the offending team. With regard to football’s terms and scoring system, the objective of offensive play is to score a touchdown valued at six points. This is accomplished by carrying, passing or kicking the football across the goal line. The game begins with opposing kick off and kickoff return teams on opposite sides of the field. Kickoffs occur at the beginning of each half and after a touchdown. A team may also kick a field goal for score when it has been unable to score and is within fifty yards of the end zone or after the team scored a touchdown.
Once kick-off occurs the return team attempts to run the ball back down field across the goal line and into the end zone for a touch-down. The kick off team executes defensive tasks to stop the ball carrier’s forward progress. Penalties for an off side occurs whenever a player gets ahead of the ball or violates or crosses the neutral zone between teams prior to the ‘snap’ of the ball that triggers the start of play. Physically blocking an opposing player is perfectly fine but special rules are associated with receivers.
The infraction is termed pass interference and is usually called against the defensive player when the defender interferes with the offensive receiver prior to that receiver catching a thrown football. After scoring a touchdown, the offensive team is given the option of how it wants to complete the conversion or point after attempt: a kick for one point or a run for two point conversion. The most common tactic is for a team to kick a goal. To get two points, the team will set up in a regular formation and try to run the ball in or simply pass it.
A team can actually kick a field goal at any point of the game. If the kick attempt is not associated with a preceding touchdown, it is worth three points. Teams usually elect this option within fifty yards on the field goal. A defensive score is called a safety. This occurs when the defense tackles an offensive player with the ball in the offensive end zone or when the ball carrier goes out of bounds behind the end zone line. A safety earns the defensive team two points. Possession changes often in football. The offensive team must move the ball forward ten or more yards within four consecutive attempts.
If not, after three unsuccessful plays and the offensive team that is not in field goal range will elect to punt to move the football out of its territory. On paper, the differences between these two sports may seem vast, but in actually playing one can truly understand the similarities – gaining, defending and controlling the territory between goal lines on the field of play remains the same. Personally, I prefer football over rugby. Although many rugby players including myself willingly admit that they enjoy playing the game of rugby more, our heart still lies with football.
I’m not sure what kept me more hyped all week; was it the nostalgia of knowing that Friday night lights would happen, or the enthusiasm of the students during each pep rally, or walking through the school wearing my jersey. But running through the banner amid screaming fans—that feeling is an amazing sensation common to all football players alike. The same feeling must be felt by many other former football players because Friday night is reserved for high school, Saturday for college, and Sunday for the NFL. So for me, rugby was just something to do while waiting for the next football season.