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    Football vs. Rugby

    By John Chen–

    It’s October and you know what that means! Football season is in full swing: the spectacle, the pageantry, the tailgating, the parties, the 49ers and the Raiders. Americans, we love our football. From the squeamish cover your eyes hits to the spectacular one-handed diving catches to the svelte sexy cheerleaders, we just can’t get enough of it.

    Overseas, there’s gnarly a peep or even a bleep. Does anyone else care? Well, kind of, if we are talking rugby, the physical game in which American football is derived from back in the late 1800s. Rugby is the original “football” where men exhibited and displayed great toughness in tackling and wrestling to achieve a score. While football eventually became the most popular sport in America, rugby claimed its fame on an international stage. Ask any American sports fan about football, and you’ll get an extended discussion. You may even be bonded for life because you both love the same team. Then ask about rugby. You will most likely get crickets or “they don’t wear protection.” (We are talking about helmets and pads here.)

    So which sport is better? Tougher?

    Football has 22 (11 on each team) big, strong and muscular players sporting ultra-tight body contouring and defining pants on the field. Rugby has 22 (11 on each team) big strong and muscular players sporting oh-so-short shorts on the field. TIE

    Football has beautiful, curvaceous and barely clothed cheerleaders. Rugby has gorgeous, athletic cheerleaders wearing almost nothing. TIE

    Size is everything. Rugby balls are bigger and plumper than footballs. Rugby playing fields are longer and thicker (I mean wider) than football fields. Professional football linemen on average weigh 312 pounds, a little more than 60 pounds over the average professional rugby forward (rugby equivalent to football linemen) at 251 pounds. (Sources: Business Insider, UK Independent.) Football stadium capacity on an average is larger and more cavernous than a rugby stadium. For example, 12 American football stadiums seat over 90,000 people; only one rugby stadium in the world seats over 90,000. (Source: Wikipedia) TIE

    Rugby has numerous women clubs. Football has a semi-pro women league. TIE

    Ruggers tackle, but do not wear protective pads and helmets. Football players tackle, but wear protective pads and helmets. RUGBY

    Football players hit, block, screen and often take advantage of protective gear to increase the physicality of the game. It is illegal for ruggers to hit and block. FOOTBALL

    Ruggers have well rounded skill sets to accomplish multiple feats during the game. Football players also have highly specialized skill sets to accomplish specific feats during the game. NO DECISION

    Rugby is free flowing with more in game, on the fly strategy and little game stoppage. Football is a calculated, step by step game that often times has a significantly sizable playbook. NO DECISION

    Travis Cohan, who was a football lineman in high school and a forward with the UCLA Rugby Club, offered his insights on the two sports: “Due to the stoppage of play after every down, football players can go high intensity on each play and get a breather afterwards. This stoppage allows both offense and defensive to implement clear strategies moving forward.”

    He added, “Rugby players, being free flowing with few stoppages, must be smart on how much energy and intensity to expend while the ball is in play. Ruggers must also make quick, strategic decisions in moving the offense and the defense forward.”

    Although Cohan loves football, he does favor the fact that ruggers of any position have ample opportunity to score a try (equivalent to touchdown in football) and play the entire game on both offense and defense, something that is almost impossible to do in football.

    There you have it. Whether you consider yourself team rugby or team football or both (because you swing both ways), each sport has its unique strong points. Both sports demand toughness and are physically bruising with rabid fan bases. Consider this match up a draw or a tie.

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.