Rugby – American Football’s Father

Baseball is America’s past time. Football is the most popular sport in America. Soccer is gaining popularity. Many school systems offer soccer because it is an inexpensive sport that doesn’t put a major dent in the school’s budget. America’s newest immigrants have helped popularize this sport.

Basketball, a truly “made in America” sport is also very popular. And although the NHL is still on strike, hockey is also a part of American sports.

And then there is rugby. Rugby? If you ask your friends or coworkers about this sport you probably will get a blank stare or response similar to, “Rugby is like football.”.

While rugby is not the most popular sport in American culture, some famous American’s have played rugby. Former President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush both played rugby in college.

What is Rugby?

Rugby is an English sport that came to life in the 1800’s. The Rugby School, a prep school in England, created the game and gave it it’s name. This sport is actually a variation of soccer. Before the 1860’s, soccer rules allowed for the use of hands to move the ball.

However, football at Rugby School was different than at other schools. In addition to usage of the hands, the goal was different. It was higher and included a cross-bar (similar to American football’s goal post). Players score by kicking the ball over the cross-bar. This rule eliminated crowding of the goal, allowed scoring to be attempted from different parts of the field, and made the game more exciting.

Similarities Between American Football and Rugby
There are some similarities between rugby and American football. If anything, American football is a variation of rugby. Both sports have a “touchdown” and score points by kicking the ball through a goal post.

Touchdown is a rugby term. The player scores by “touching the ball down” in the other team’s goal (American football’s end zone). This is called a try and they get 5 points and a chance for a 2-point conversion (kicking the ball through the goal post).

American football players score by running into end zone or passing the ball to a player who is in the end zone. This touchdown is worth 6 points and the team has a chance to either score 1 point by kicking the ball over the goal post or score a 2-point conversion by passing the ball to a player in the end zone.

A rugby team has 8 forwards and 7 backs. They play both offense and defense. An American football team has 11 players. There is a team for offense and one for defense. American teams also have forwards and backs.

The original rugby ball was round. Later, rugby balls were made from an inflated pig’s bladder encased in leather. This gave the ball its oval shape. Modern rugby balls don’t include a pig’s bladder. An American football is oval and is often referred to as pigskin.

A rugby match consists of 2 forty minute halves. An American football match consists of 4 fifteen minute quarters.

American Rugby
Rugby is played at many colleges and there are many U. S. rugby leagues. There is also an American professional rugby league (

This league consists of 2 conferences, the Lincoln Conference, and the Franklin Conference. Each conference has 4 teams.

Lincoln Conference – The Connecticut Wildcats, New York Knights, Northern Raiders, and the Glen Mills Bulls (Concordville, PA).
Franklin Conference – The New Jersey Sharks, Philadelphia Fight, Media Mantarays (Delaware), and the Washington DC Slayers.

Other Rugby Information
Rugby is an Olympic sport. It debuted in 1900. France won rugby’s first gold medal. The Americans won the gold in 1920 and in 1924.

Here are some interesting rugby sites: Planet-Rugby (, Scrum ( and USA Rugby (

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