Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rugby vs. Football.

I know many of our American readers may not know much about rugby but here’s a sport that could build bridges between our two continents.

Of all the world's sports rugby is THE sport that American football is most similar to: shared origins, resulting in similarities and shared concepts in terms of scoring and advancing the ball (wiki). Even the expression “touchdown” is a rugby term even if in rugby, it is called a “try” (the irony is that a "try" requires the ball to be 'touched down' to the ground, whereas a "touchdown" doesn't).

It is also interesting to note that soccer (called football outside America), American football and rugby actually all have the same origin. In fact, it seems that all those games find their origins in a game played called La Soul or Choule played in Northern France (Brittany, Normandy and Picardy) which is said to have “set foot” in Britain with the Norman Conquest. Until the 19th century, there was no differentiation as rules varied greatly by locations, until the British schools began to standardize the games of rugby and football (which later became soccer in the U.S.)

Personally, rugby is my favorite team sport (and the only one I actually practiced). It is much faster and more dynamic than American football – the game is not stopped to let the tackled player get back on his feet which makes it much less tedious to watch. Also in rugby, only the player with possession of the ball may be interfered and unlike football, you cannot pass the ball forward in rugby. That’s just a few of the main differences.

Then, American football is much more brutal, hence the difference in the player’s attire – rugby players usually have none and they are not as often seriously injured.

But what I like best about rugby is that there isn’t as much hype, buzz, and money involved with rugby as there is with soccer (in Europe) or American football. Because of this, it is the last perfect gentleman’s game. You never see hordes of hooligans ransack stores around the stadium or kill each other over a stupid defeat; you never see the violence and racism you see in soccer.

At the same time, rugby will never be as popular as soccer in the world because if nothing else, it requires at least field and cannot be played in poor countries or in the streets. So it’ll never give a sense of empowerment to the disadvantaged or the impoverished like soccer does. But let’s praise it for its great spirit.


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