Similarities Between Rugby League and American Football


The new NFL season in the USA has just begun and it is a league which is followed very closely by many rugby league fans due to the similarities between the two sports.

We’ve taken a look at what makes the two games so similar and if players could successfully make a switch across from one to another.

Territory on the Field is Crucial in Both Sports

The most obvious similarity between rugby league and American football is that the position on the field is vital. In rugby league, the aim is to cross the in-goal area, while in American football, it’s to enter the end zone.

One of the most exciting teams in the NFL to watch is the Kansas City Chiefs. They are 5/1 in the NFL odds for the Super Bowl this season. In many ways, they are like a rugby league team as their offense is explosive.

The Chiefs are one of the most popular NFL predictions for the Super Bowl this year as their quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who was the 2018 MVP, is capable of producing magical things. The best comparison in rugby league to how he plays is what you would see from a full back. It would be fascinating to see him try that position in the sport.

Fumbles and Knock-Ons Are Costly

Another big aspect of both sports is fumbles and knock-ons. These are so costly as it means there is a turnover of the ball. It also leads to the opposition picking up excellent field positions if they are close to the in-goal/end zone.

Ball protection is vital when running with the ball in these sports. In the NFL you will see the running backs and wide receivers protect the ball at all costs. Equally, in rugby league, it is important to have a good pair of hands to catch the ball.

In many sports such as football and rugby union, losing possession is not always as costly. The ball changes teams frequently and, as long as it is not in their own half, some teams are happy for their opponents to have the ball.

No Boring Scoreless Games

Fans of all sports enjoy seeing lots of goals and points scored in the game they are watching. In American football and rugby league, you rarely see a game where there are few points scored.

In the NFL, it’s common to see over 40 points scored between the two teams, as we saw at the Super Bowl back in February. There are big plays, huge hits from the defence and kicking is a key part of a match, whether that is punting down the field or scoring an extra point/penalty.

All the above can also be said for rugby league. It’s very rare for a game to be low scoring. We see defences collide with players running at them to create huge collisions. It’s also vital for a successful rugby league team to have a good kicker. The extra points and penalties scored can be the difference in a tight match.

Although there are some positions where a player could switch sports and have success, it has to be recognised that, at the highest level, the majority of the skills require specialists.

The two sports really give those watching value for money and those who feature in both have to be applauded for the toughness they show in what are hazardous games.