The All Blacks’ trip to Chicago to play the USA has sparked the age-old argument about whether rugby players are tougher than NFL players.  We thought we’d settle the dispute once and for all. Here are 7 crash tackling reasons why rugby is tougher than NFL.

1. Reason why rugby is tougher than NFL: No pads – better technique

Take the helmets and shoulder pads off some NFL stars and you wouldn’t even recognise them walking down the street. On the other hand, all a rugby player needs is a pair of boots and a mouthguard and he’s good to go. In addition to not having any protection from the impact of some ludicrously heavy hits, lack of padding means rugby players have adopted a more refined tackling technique than their NFL counterparts. Even Superbowl winning Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is teaching his players how to tackle ‘rugby style’.

2. Reason why rugby is tougher than NFL: Rucks, Mauls and Scrums

Forwards are the only blokes who can speak with any authority on what the hell goes on at a scrum – well, some of them can anyway. Some front-rowers have probably engaged a few too many times to speak with authority about anything, while most back-rowers will admit their knowledge of the set-piece is limited to “push as hard as you can.” Whatever technical intricacies the piggies talk about at training, you need a certain mindset to stick your head and shoulders into a ruck or pack a scrum with about one and a half tonnes of pure muscle and aggression pushing you this way and that. No cauliflower ears in NFL either.

3. Reason why rugby is tougher than NFL: Long season

The NFL and Super Rugby seasons are both about five months long from start to finish, but while American football players have seven months off spend their absurd amounts of money, rugby players are still on the grind. Two weeks after Super Rugby finishes, the Rugby Championship kicks off, then there’s the Spring Tours to the Northern Hemisphere – and that’s after a three match midseason series jammed into the Super Rugby schedule. Meanwhile, NFL players are driving around in limos, going to casinos and doing other fun rich guy stuff.

4. Reason why rugby is tougher than NFL: Lots of travel

They say America is a big country, but even the longest NFL road trips are laughable in comparison to rugby. The Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins are geographically two of the furthest teams apart meaning a return trip of about 8800km, followed closely by the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers’ 8700km round trip. For perspective, the trip from Auckland to Johannesburg is 12186km – one way. The All Blacks travel 10348km from Auckland to Buenos Aires for the Rugby Championship and it’s 8078km from JoBurg to Buenos Aires.  Read More>