All Called Football but Different

 Football is a well-known term and usually brings soccer to mind as it is the world’s most popular sport with FIFA, (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and UEFA, (Union of European Football Associations) being the all important governing bodies for professional football, but there are other sports that use the word football in their descriptions. They are; RFU, Rugby Football Union, UK, NFL, National Football League, USA and AFL, Australian Football League. Although these sports are associated with specific countries they are practiced all around the world with each football sport having its own identifiable words to not confuse or confound.

Football, soccer or footie needs no explanation, just as rugby or rugger but in America, football means the NFL with crash helmets and shoulder pads and soccer relating to the world’s most played game while in Australia it is footie or abroad Aussie rules and soccer for universal and popular football.

Interestingly, rugby was the most played sport globally up until soccer became a professional organisation with sponsors and commercial companies investing in football became attractive taking off in the 1950s, rugby delayed this procedure until the mid-1990s although still popular football frenzy grabbed world attention. While in America the NFL has always been the top sport with soccer making its mark in the 1980s and now rugby is on the surge in recent times and it is a contender to stage the Rugby World Cup in the future to promote the game. Australia has a strong tradition of rugby and invented Aussie Rules Footie to utilise the cricket playing grounds as they are quite large in area.

So, what are the differences? 

 A quick guide to explain the basic rules would be that football has 2 opposing teams of 11 players on the field, use only feet to play except the goalkeeper who can handle the ball (sphere shape) and kick it, substitutions of players allowed. In rugby there are 2 opposing teams of 15 players on the pitch, you can kick the ball (oval shape) forward, catch the ball but only pass the ball backwards never forwards, replacements allowed. American Football has 3 teams in each side, offence, defence and special team. A typical NFL game will have around 50 players present representing each team play sector. The ball (oval shape but smaller than a rugby ball) can be passed or thrown forwards or backwards. In Aussie Rules there are 2 opposing teams of 18 players on the huge oval cricket field with 4 on the bench in reserve. There are rugby posts and a football goal both offer scoring points. The ball (oval shape) is passed by kicking to team players and must be bounced on the ground when running with it, similar to basketball rules.

Point scoring in each sport 

  • Football does not have scoring points, goals determine a winner of a game, a game lasts for 90 minutes split into to halves of 45 minutes each with a 15 minute break between them. If the teams are level after 90 minutes in cup competitions then they play two 15 minute-halves with a 5-minute break and if still no winner then a penalty shootout, best of 5 spot kicks or if still no result the remaining players of the teams continue the shootout and if all equal after this, a simple toss of the coin to decide the winner.
  • Rugby has 4 ways of scoring points. A penalty kick, 3 points, a try which is scored in the area behind the posts for 5 points with a subsequent conversion kick worth 2 points. A drop kick gives 3 points, at any time a player can half volley the ball from anywhere on the field to score. The final one is when the opposing infringes play near the try line, the referee can award a penalty try including the conversion kick for a total of 7 points. The game consists of two 40-minute halves with a 15-minute break and even though official time is up if the ball is still in play then the game continues until possession is lost so the winning team can kick it out to end the game.
american footballjpg
  • A touchdown in American Football is rugby’s version of a try and worth 5 points, also a kick is allowed for 2 points done by the special team after the offence team has left the field after scoring a touchdown. The restart sees the defence team take to the field. There are 4 by 30-minute quarters with breaks, so a game can last over 3 hours, so plenty of food and drink on sale as well as sponsor advertising. Extra time is also used in title winning games.

  • Australian Rules also have 4 quarters like American football but of 20 minutes each with short breaks in between. As they play on a wide open cricket ground the passing is done mostly by precise kicking to fellow team mates. Two sets of rugby posts in a line at each end of the field, If you score in the outer section then 1 point is given but if you score in the centre section then you earn 6 points. Unlike American football the players wear only a sleeveless shirt and it is tough tackling as a player steps his way up the back of an opposing player to catch the ball, new viewers of Aussie Football are shocked at the aggression displayed. Extra time is played in title deciding games.

Peculiar differences 
  • Football, rugby and American football have the off-side rule where Aussie Footie does not.
  • Rugby has a scrum, the 2 team’s forwards, 8 in number for each side combine to push each other when the ball is put in.
  • American football heavies line up against each other and block to protect playmaker when the ball is adjudged in play. 
  • Football has a throw in when the ball goes off the field while rugby has a lineout where the forwards lift each other to catch the ball from the thrower. American football has neither when the ball goes out, the game clock stops until they restart with a down, as mentioned earlier the line-up facing each other known as a down too, a team has 4 downs to gain 10 yards in order to receive another 4 downs or lose possession. A simple throw in from the boundary line similar to football in Aussie Rules.
No matter which football you prefer they are all similar but yet so different when watched regularly. Kicking or throwing a ball of any shape dates back centuries and different countries celebrate these early history ball games. One fact that has come to light is that rugby is becoming more and more popular again. The last world cup in Japan saw over a billion people watch the tournament and this is expected to increase even more with the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. And in Krakow we have our own Rugby Cup-  the Kracking Rugby Fest Cup coming again in June 2023 !