How Does American Football Differ From Rugby?

American football and rugby are more or less similar in various ways. There is too much aggression, physical contact, and running in both games. However, these games also differ in some ways as explained below.

Number of Players

American football teams are much smaller than rugby teams. The former has 11 players per team at any given time on the pitch, whereas their rugby counterparts have 15 players.


In American football, the number of substitutes allowed for each team is unlimited. On the other hand, a rugby team can make at most seven substitutions in a game. Once a player leaves the field of play, they cannot return to the pitch even if a player is injured and there are no other substitutes.


Rugby balls and football balls may look similar, given that they are oval. But American footballs are more pointy on the ends and are slightly longer (28cm) than rugby balls (27cm).


Rugby pitches are longer and wider than football fields. The field of play in rugby is 120m long, while a rugby pitch measures 109.7m long. Football pitches are 48.77m wide compared to 70m wide in rugby.

Protective Equipment

American footballers are known for their heavy protective clothing during a game. Players wear helmets, facemasks, shoulder pads, and other protective garments. In rugby, players wear minimal protective equipment.

Advancing the Ball

Unlike in American football, rugby players are not allowed to pass the ball forward. This implies that a player cannot pass the ball to a teammate who is ahead of them. However, in both sports, players can pass the ball by running with it.

Physical Contact and Tackles

Body contact in rugby is less than in American football. The contact in American football might be much heavier due to the protective clothing that players wear. Rugby averages 16 tackles per game, while football has an average of four tackles per game.

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