The most logical way to figure out which sport is more dangerous-football vs rugby- is to compare the two. It is a safe bet that basketball is safer than the two.
Since American football essentially initiated from rugby, the two sports share multiple major similarities. However, there are also substantial differences between the sports that drastically impact participants’ potential for injury.
We shall start off with the similarities between football and rugby.
One of the greatest similarities between the two sports is how players prevent their opponents from progressing down the field. Both football and rugby require a player to bring their opponent to the ground by tackling them, which makes the two sports among the most physical games in the world. As well as making them both very exciting to watch.
The main objective of both sports is also similar: cross the opponent’s goal line with possession of the ball. In football, players simply need to break the plane of the goal line with the ball in order to score a touchdown, worth 6 points. Rugby requires players to touch the ball down to the ground after they’ve crossed the goal line, resulting in a try that is worth 5 points.
You can also score points in both sports by kicking the ball through a pair of uprights at the opponent’s end of the field, either when converting after a score or from the field of play (a field goal in football is worth 3 points, as are penalty kicks/drop goals in rugby.)
Lastly, passing the ball backward is permitted in both sports, while backward passes happen a lot more in rugby.
The next step is to distinguish the differences between football and rugby.
There are some slight differences between football and rugby (for example, a rugby field is 109 yards long, compared to the 100-yard field used in football), we are going to focus on the differences that affect the players safety.
Football allows the ball to be passed forward (as long as the player passing the ball is behind the line of scrimmage). This common method of attempting to move the ball down field. Which often makes intended receivers more vulnerable to injury as they look back or up in the air to try to catch the ball. Though the opposing player isn’t allowed to hit the intended receiver until the ball arrives, the receiver often isn’t prepared for the hit or even aware that their opponent is there.
Football and rugby also differ in which ways contact with opponents is permitted. Football allows players to block opponents who don’t have the ball, such as linemen who crash into each other on every play from scrimmage. Rugby, meanwhile, does not allow blocking of non-ball handlers. And when it comes to tackling, rugby requires players to attempt to wrap their arms around their opponent, a stark contrast to the shoulder-first hits that are permitted in football.
Rugby could be a more physically demanding sport to play, however, because the game flow is much more fluid. In rugby, the only breaks in the action are for scrums, throw-ins, or after scoring plays, and players play both offense and defense. Football stops play every time a player with the ball is tackled and play typically doesn’t resume for at least 20 seconds as players return to the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped again.
Rugby may involve more actual tackles over the course of a game, due to the constant flow of a match, but I believe that the players also have a lot more respect for their opponents. Since they don’t have helmets protecting their heads like football players do, rugby players feel less invulnerable and aren’t going to use their head as a missile.
There’s also a larger emphasis on proper tackling form in rugby, where you can’t simply drop your shoulder into an opponent or take them out at their knees. And while intended receivers in football are prone to the big hit when they’re looking back for a pass, rugby players generally seem to be aware of where potential tacklers are always.
At the end of the day when comparing the two sports, football vs rugby, there are a couple main differences that affect a player’s safety. One the equipment that they use, football has protective padding for the body and head. Where Rugby has no protective padding at all. The other factor that impacts a player’s safety is the rules on which contact is permitted. Football allows for players to block opponents trying to get to the player with the ball when rugby does not allow for blocking.
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By N. Cermak