Rugby truly is one of (if not) the greatest sports known to man, and for that reason there’s a lot it can teach other sports such as football. Now obviously this isn’t to be taken too seriously and whilst we do stereotype wildly in the below piece, we are aware that the points are true of many, but not all footballers, and equally we’re aware that not all rugby players are perfect. Anyway, here are 11 things rugby can teach you that football never will;
Whether it be shutting the hell up and listening to the referee before politely saying ‘yes sir’, shaking hands with the opposition after a game or keeping your mouth shut during a penalty kick, there’s no doubt that respect is rife in rugby. I’m not so sure the same can be said of football where referee’s seem to regularly be on the receiving end of verbal and physical intimidation and kick takers have to deal with a stadium full of screaming fans.
Diving is so rife in football that it’s more like watching a Tom Daley reality show than anything else these days. Contrast that to rugby where players will see it as a sign of weakness if you go down and don’t immediately get straight back to your feet. What kind of pride can you take in a victory achieved as a result of conning the referee into awarding decisions your favour, or even sending players off.
No matter what level you play at, rugby players will take enormous pride in pulling on the shirt and representing their club, country or even country, can the same be said for footballers? You only have to watch the national anthems in the respective sports to see the huge difference in pride both sides feel. Rugby players stand up straight and belt it out no matter how bad their singing voice whilst footballers simply look like they’d rather be anywhere else.
At any level of rugby, it is the fans who turn up week in week out spending their hard earned money on tickets, merchandise, food and drink that keeps even the smallest club in business. In rugby, even at the top level, players can regularly be found mingling with fans post-match and making them feel like a genuine part of the club whilst footballers seem to have nothing but contempt for fans.
Possibly the greatest thing about rugby is the fact that nobody takes themselves too seriously. Out on the pitch players will regularly take the p**s out of other players, fully expecting to receive it back. Equally in the stands fans are more than capable of giving as good as they get without anyone taking it too personally. Unfortunately it seems to be quite the opposite in football where fans and players are incapable of taking a joke.
Another almost unique aspect of rugby is the fact that we are capable of sitting next to opposition fans without feeling the need to resort to foul language or violence. The total absence of fan segregation if one of the greatest parts of rugby, meaning you often get to sit next to someone supporting the opposition team which only heightens your enjoyment. Unfortunately in football police and security are often required to keep fans apart.
Now obviously fans will have a slight bias towards their own team, but for the most part they can remain relatively objective in rugby, seeing both sides of the argument. This makes the game much more enjoyable for all those involved as there tends not to be the one-eyed fans you get in football who can see no wrong in their team, even when they have clearly been poor/committed an offence.
Whilst football stadiums have had to ban the consumption of alcohol in the stands, rugby fans can still be trusted to have a beer whilst sat watching a game. Equally rugby fans seem capable of watching an entire game of rugby without swearing and attempting to intimidate others. This makes rugby a much more enjoyable family experience where as in football, I know many people who wouldn’t take their wives or children.
Whether it be commitment to your team, country or even simply a tackle, there’s no doubt rugby players have it in spades. It is a huge honour to represent your chosen country/team and for that reason players will always come out and give it their all, even when it may be a lost cause. In contrast there are regular stories of football players refusing to turn out for their clubs to force a move or feigning injury to duck out of international duties.
The TMO may not be everyone’s favourite person in a rugby stadium, but at least rugby has shown a willingness to change with the times and embrace new technologies. Despite football clearly having significantly more substantial financial means they have so far seemed unwilling to entertain the idea of using technology to help improve the game. It may not always work but at least it is being trialled.
In rugby it doesn’t matter what your age, height, gender, size or background is, there will always be a place in the team for you, can the same really be said about football? What makes rugby so special is that it really is a community game. No matter where you end up in the world, you can be safe in the knowledge that if you head down to your local rugby club then you will be welcomed with open arms.
What else can rugby teach people that football can’t?