Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eternal questions: Which is tougher? Rugby or American Football?

Ireland, South Dublin in particular, is rugby country. The Irish national rugby team punches way above its weight. We have some of the best players in the world, and one of our club/provincial sides, Munster, just won the European Cup, beating the very tough French side Toulouse in the final. Rugby is particularly big in secondary schools around the south side of Dublin and, indeed, the Munster area.

In school my friends and I played rugby, and occasionally played football too, flag/touch football basically. For the latter we were ridiculed. People asked, 'Why would you not just play rugby, it's way tougher'. All around Europe and indeed the Southern Hemisphere, if you asked a sports fan which is tougher, American Football or Rugby, they would scoff in reply, 'Rugby, definitely rugby.'

American football players in Ireland/Europe are often referred to as 'wimps in armour'. It's the same old story, if you don't understand something, knock it. That's almost a mantra on the Emerald Isle.

I found this answer on 'Yahoo Q&A', to the question which is tougher, thought it summed up perfectly the view outside the States to which is harder, Rugby or American Football.
''Rugby, American football is for girls: all that padding and stuff! ;-) Real men play Rugby''

If you, the readers, were a congregation and I was a preacher this is the section of the sermon where the noise and murmurs and 'amens' would start to build up as I actually approach my point. I am here to tell you, brother, I am here to tell you, yes I am here to tell you that American Football is way, way tougher than Rugby. Ronan O'Gara, Brian O'Driscoll, I am sorry! Whilst Rugby players are fine, fine athletes and undoubtedly tough individuals, folks. there's a reason football players wear all that gear!

As a QB, you spend about 50% of your time on your back in any one game

I played Rugby in school, and whilst it was tough, and people often got injured, it was absolutely nothing compared to my experiences with the Irish American Football league. My team, the DCU Saints, have had more injuries in half a season than I saw in 5 years playing Rugby, and the injuries are more serious too.

There's no doubt about it, football is a vastly more rugged and violent game than rugby, and anyone who says otherwise has clearly not had the pleasure of being sacked from their blind side by a speeding maniac who weighs 270lbs and is wearing another 20lbs of equipment too. The same maniac often gets a running start and is quite literally trying to bury you in the ground.

Check out some of the injuries the DCU Saints have suffered in the first part of the season
  • Damaged spleen (season ending)
  • Broken sternum
  • Torn hamstrings
  • Soft tissue damage to the knee
  • Lower back injuries (season ending)
That's not even including the various ankle twists, sprains, fingers broken, muscles bruised and the myriad of cuts and tears the players have suffered. On top of that, that's just the DCU Saints. Several other teams in the league have had even worse season ending injuries occur to their players.

I remember rugby. I remember the cold November evenings, hands freezing waiting for the ball. I remember the odd bump and bruise. I am telling you right now, Rugby is nowhere near as rough and tough as American Football. Not even close actually. From my own perspective, as a QB, getting sacked is the most violent part of my day. There are other players (The honest, hard working linemen) who go through infinitely worse, however from my point of view, getting sacked is about as much fun as invasive dental surgery.

One minute you are holding the ball (too long probably!) surveying the field for a receiver. Then, out of nowhere, someone grabs you. If you are lucky they grab you and bring you down. If you are unlucky you are hit on the fly. You spend a split second thinking 'Well, I guess I better hold on to the ball' and then wham, you are on the ground. Best case scenarios the linebacker or lineman rolls off you, worst case scenario, it was a few of them and they land right on top of you. To date my favourite sack came when two guys hit me at once and I ended up spinning up over them. That was fun.

So next time you are in a Dublin bar and someone blurts out drunkenly, 'American Football is for wimps', just punch them in the face.

They don't know what they are talking about.


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1 comment:

Logo said...

Schools rugby and Pro rugby are two totally different animals. As are American Football and Rugby.

Its like comparing Horse Racing to Monster Truck Racing. Same basic concept (a race) but executed in two totally different ways, with two totally different sets of rules.

American Football is more violent as the players wear superior protection.The more this improves the more violent the game will become. Rugby does not allow for that level of pretection so until we see American Football without all the padding, its an impossible comparison.

Always an interesting debate though :)

P.S. Oh and rugby has spectacles like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eGCsEQ15L4

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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