rugby ball vs american football

Rugby vs American football

Want to know the differences between Rugby vs American football? Well, you’ve come to the right place. But if you want to know something else, you can also read about Football vs Basketball.

What is the main difference between a rugby ball and an American football ball?

The main difference between the two balls is their shape. A rugby ball is more oval-shaped, with a longer and narrower design, while an American football ball is more pointed and has a more elongated shape.

What materials are used to make Rugby and American football balls?

Rugby balls are typically made of leather or synthetic materials, while American footballs are made of leather or rubber.

Are the Rugby and American football balls different in size?

Yes, the two balls are slightly different in size. A rugby ball is usually about 27 centimeters long and 60 centimeters in circumference, while an American football is around 28 centimeters long and 56 centimeters in circumference.

Can you use a rugby ball in American football, or vice versa?

While you could technically use one type of ball in the other sport, it would not be allowed in official games as the rules dictate the specific type of ball that must be used.

Which sport is more popular, rugby or American football?

It depends on the region. Rugby is more popular in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, while American football is more popular in the United States.

American football and rugby are among the most popular games in the world besides soccer/football. However, many people often confuse the two sports. In fact, there is a debate about which of the two sports is better and more popular. Well, what you need to know is that the two sports share lots of similarities and have differences too.

Keep reading to learn the differences between rugby ball and American football.

Is a Rugby Ball the Same As a Football?

When it comes to rugby and American football, many people find it hard to differentiate between the two sports.

difference between rugby ball and american football

In fact, there is an ongoing debate about which sport is popular and better. Well, if you look from a wider perspective, both rugby and American football share similarities. However, the differences between these two great sports keep the debate alive.

Read on to learn the differences between rugby and American football.

Rugby vs American football ball

What about Rugby vs American football ball? If you look at the balls from a general perspective, they look similar, but a careful look will reveal a difference between rugby ball and american football. The balls are of the same length – 11 inches, but the ends of each ball are different.

The rugby ball shape has flat ends, while the American football ball has sharp ends. You may be wondering what’s the purpose of the shaped ends. Well, the ball’s shape affects the game, especially gameplay dynamics.

is a rugby ball the same as a football

For example, long throws are common in American football. Since the American football ball has sharp ends, it cuts through the air allowing the ball to fly farther. The ball is also lighter and weighs only 200 g compared to the rugby ball which can weigh up to 460 g.

So many people think that Rugby ball vs American football are the same, but they are different.

Number of players

In rugby, there are two types of codes – rugby union and rugby league. Rugby union, 15 players are in each team with 7 to 8 substitutes on the bench. In rugby league, each team has 13 players with 4 to 5 substitutes.

We also have rugby sevens where teams have seven players. In American football, each team has 11 players with 4 players as substitutes. This makes the total number of players in each team to be 15.

american football vs rugby ball

Legend has it that the founders of American football decided 11 players on each side was enough. To make this decision, they considered the size of the pitch which is slightly smaller than the rugby pitch.

Rugby vs American football size of pitch

Need more Rugby vs American football differences? In rugby union, the field is 70 meters wide and 144 meters long while in rugby league, the pitch is 68 meters wide and 100 meters long. This does not include the line-markings, such as the dead ball zone and touchlines.

When it comes to Rugby 7s, it’s played on a standard rugby union pitch measuring up to 70 meters wide and 100 meters long. In all rugby playing fields, you have two H-shaped goalposts on each goal line.

An American football field is 48.8 meters wide and 100 m long which makes the entire surface of the football field to be 1.32 acres or 57,600 square feet.

background of games

Origin and geographical location

Legend has it that rugby originated at Rugby School in Warwickshire, London in 1893 during a game of school football. In 1871, they formed the first Rugby Football Union which had 21 teams.

By the end of the 19th century, the game had already spread among the working class in Scotland, England, and Wales. Today, people play rugby worldwide, but it’s popular in Australia, New Zealand, Wales, and England.

At Rugby School, the rugby we know today was known as rugby football. The game found its way to America in the 19th century when British colonists introduced rugby to Americans. Today, the most popular tournament is the NFL playoffs. This is an elimination tournament of 32 teams hosted every year.

Rugby vs American football level of protection

Rugby and American football are full-contact sports, but the level of protection differs between the two sports. In rugby, the level of protection given to players is minimal. Basically, they usually wear only shin and teeth protection.

Level of Protection

When it comes to American football, the level of protection is better than that of rugby. Players in American football are usually equipped with protection such as:

Chest pads


Shoulder pads

Teeth, and leg protection

Hip pads

Both American football and rugby are full-contact sports with huge amounts of physical contact. However, the impact differs. You might think that the lack of equipment or protection impacts the health of rugby players more than that of American football players.

Well, you’ll be surprised to know that the health impact of American football is significant compared to rugby. In fact, contact is more destructive. Since American football players are usually equipped better, they have more confidence. But this results in long-term health impacts and serious injuries.

different helmets in game


In rugby, the tackled players must release the oval-shaped ball making it available for both teams to play. That means in rugby, you’ll probably see 10 to 20 tackles before the referee stops that play as a result of foul play or an infraction. From there, the ball can be in play for minutes.

In American football, teams usually make four attempts to make 10 yards. If the players fail, the ball is usually turned over. This is the reason why on fourth down, the teams in American football will often punt for field position.

This is similar to the concept in rugby where any player can kick the ball at any time. However, the difference is, in rugby, all kicks are live balls for either time to attack and win. However, in American football, when a punt is boomed off, only the defending team has the right to the ball.


Although you might not notice it at first glance, american football vs rugby ball has a difference.

rugby ball shape

Rugby is widely played in countries such as the UK, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Over the past years, the game enjoyed popularity in countries such as Argentina, Japan, and the US. Basically, the game enjoys a significant following in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres

When it comes to American football, it’s primarily popular in the US and Canada where it enjoys a huge following. However, the game has started to have a growing international following particularly in Mexico.

Overall, rugby enjoys a broader following compared to American football, and it’s also played in more countries than the latter.