Published By: Sanjukta

Not the same sport: American Football vs Rugby

When it comes to sports, there's something exhilarating about watching players run, tackle, and score points. American Football and Rugby are two such sports that deliver thrills, but they're far from being the same game.

Both American Football and Rugby stand out as dynamic and intense game. While they share the essence of physicality and team strategy, they are worlds apart in terms of equipment, rules, and playing style. Whether you're drawn to the padding and strategies of American Football or the relentless pace and tackling prowess of Rugby, one thing is certain – these two sports are not the same game, but they are both a thrilling spectacle to watch and play.

Where’s the difference ? We have compiled a list of differences between American Football and Rugby,

Number of Players

In American Football, each team has 11 players on the field at any given time. In contrast, Rugby teams consist of 15 players each.

Object of the Game

The primary objective in American Football is to score points by carrying the ball beyond the opponent's end zone, resulting in a touchdown worth 6 points. Kicking the ball between the goalposts can earn 3 points for a field goal or 1 point for a conversion after a touchdown. In Rugby, the goal is to carry the ball and place it down on the opponent's touchline, which is called a "try," worth 5 points, or to kick it between the goal posts.

Time Limit

American Football games are divided into four 15-minute quarters with a halftime intermission after the second quarter. The game clock frequently stops between plays. In Rugby, the game consists of two 40-minute halves with a ten-minute halftime. The clock only stops for prolonged injuries.

Protective Gear

American Football is known for its extensive protective gear, including helmets, shoulder pads, chest protectors, and upper leg padding. Players are also required to wear mouthguards. In Rugby, players wear modest protective gear, including headgear, shoulder pads, and mouth guards, with no requirement for extensive padding.

Field Size

American Football fields are rectangular, measuring 120 yards in total, with 100 yards of playing field and two 10-yard end zones. The field's width is approximately 160 feet. In Rugby, the field is 100 meters long and 70 meters wide, with an additional 20-meter in-goal area.


American Football offers varying point-scoring methods, such as touchdowns (6 points), field goals (3 points), and conversions (1 or 2 points). In Rugby, a try is worth 5 points, and a successful conversion adds 2 points.

Player Size

In American Football, player sizes can vary significantly, with some of the largest NFL players weighing over 350 pounds and the lightest being around 155 pounds. In Rugby, player sizes are generally smaller, and the lightest international rugby player recorded was just 58 kg, while the heaviest reached 165.3 kg.


Substitutions in American Football are unlimited, allowing for frequent changes during the game. In Rugby, there are limits on substitutions, with up to seven replacements permitted in some tournaments. Once a player is substituted out in Rugby, they cannot return unless due to injury and a lack of other available substitutes.

Average Contact per Game

In terms of physicality, American Football players engage in about four tackles per game on average, with significant downfield blocking and contact. The highest recorded tackle force reached a remarkable 4600 pounds. In Rugby, players experience an average of 16 tackles per game, with an average hit impact of 1600 pounds of force.

Major Tournaments

The pinnacle of American Football is the NFL Playoffs, whereas in Rugby, it's the Rugby World Cup that attracts international attention.