The Main Differences Between Rugby and American Football

December 13, 2021 by Staff

Rugby and American football are fun and exciting games that enjoy great popularity all over the world. Both team sports come with similar objectives, rules, and types of equipment. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a lot of people don’t know whether they are the same or two different sports. If you also find it difficult to distinguish them from each other, don’t worry. You are not alone!

Below we will discuss the main differences between rugby and American football. Thus, you will know exactly how these games differ from each other. Are you ready? Then let’s get into it!

Number of Players

The first and maybe most important difference we can see between the two sports is the number of players. Rugby teams consist of 15 players plus 8 reserve players. However, the reserve players go on the pitch only when someone from the starting 15 leaves the game. It can happen, for example, due to an injury. On the other hand, in American football, the teams are smaller. A team comprises a total of 11 players.

Protective Equipment

Interestingly, players wear different types of protective equipment during the game in both sports. In rugby, players have only minimal equipment. They use not more than a scrum cap (optional) and a gumshield for protection.

American football players are more protected thanks to a large number of protective gear they have to wear during the football match. These include the following:

  1. Football helmet
  2. Mouthguard
  3. Leg pads
  4. Shoulder and chest pads
  5. Gloves

Size of the Field

When it comes to the size of the fields, the rugby pitch is much bigger than its counterpart in American football. To be exact, a rugby pitch is 120m long and 70m wide, compared to the American football field, which is about 110m long and 49m wide.

Duration of the Match

Another factor that makes the two sports different is the duration of the matches. In rugby, players spend altogether 80 minutes on the pitch. The match is divided into two 40-minute long halves and between them, there is a 10-minute long intermission.

American football players play for 60 minutes on the field as the match consists of four 15-minute long quarters. After the second quarter, there is a half-time break of 12 minutes. Plus, since the players need to switch goals, the first and the third quarter are followed by a few minutes long break.

As you can see, during an American football match you have plenty of free time due to the breaks. If you don’t want to feel bored during these breaks, spend this time useful. You can go to grab a snack or use the bathroom. But it can also be a great idea to kill some time by playing thrilling casino games. There are plenty of exciting games out there that can offer you a lot of fun, and additionally, some winnings as well. If you don’t know too much about online casinos, you can find out more about them and the best payout online casino Australia 2020 here. Once you read some reviews, you are ready to choose a gambling site where you want to play.


To score in rugby, players must carry the ball behind the opponent team’s try line and touch it to the ground. This is called a try and is worth 5 points. Besides, each rugby team can score points by managing to kick the ball between the goalposts as well. Depending on the situation, this goal can mean 3 or 2 points to the team. The winner is the team that has more points in the end.

The main objective of American football is similar to rugby as the teams need to score a higher number of points than the opponent team to win. Players can score points in multiple ways, including the following:

  1. Touchdown.When a player manages to get the ball behind the other team’s touchline, it’s called a touchdown. It is the most valuable action in the game because a touchdown is worth 6 points.
  2. Field goal. When a player kicks the ball between the goalposts, it’s called a field goal. It is worth 3 points.


While many people believe that the balls in rugby and American football are the same size, they are slightly different. The ball used in rugby is about 27cm long and weighs a little bit more than its counterpart in American football. Even though it’s not a big difference but American footballs are 28cm long and feature a seam as well. Also, the ends of the ball are pointier.

The Bottom Line

Many people, especially those who are not so familiar with the different types of sports, find the similarities between rugby and American football quite confusing. Without a doubt, both games feature a lot of running, physicality, even the equipment, and the objective of the games are similar. However, when we take a closer look at the details, we can spot plenty of differences regarding the number of players, protective gear, size of the field, duration of the game, scoring, and the ball.

We hope that you found this review of the key differences between rugby and American football useful. Thus, it won’t cause you any difficulties anymore to distinguish these two sports from each other.