In the wake of the Super Bowl XLVIII, and following the USA Rugby 7s tournament, now is a good time to address that burning question: ‘Which has more YOG appeal – American Football or Rugby?’
Yes, I may be Australian where rugby is popular and American Football virtually non-existent. Yes, I may have played Rugby from childhood and made a career from it. And yes, I may coach a rugby team in Southern California and play socially on the beach with rugby crazy ex pats instead of flag football with the natives. But I know enough about American Football to form a non-biased opinion. I actually love it, and believe it or not, I’ve even been supporting the Denver Broncos for 14 years (thanks to Sony PlayStation’s Madden Football 2000).
So despite the fact that there is a small percentage of YOGs still actually playing either game at the highest level, let’s examine the yogness of the two sports from different angles, starting with the elements of the game itself.
PRE MATCH BUILDUP
Run out of coffee and need a kick start to get through your day? Just YouTube one of Drew Brees’ pre match scream fests to his chanting cronies and that oughta do it. NFL pre match buildups are high on energy and entertainment. But for me, the unity and patriotism involved with entire rugby teams arm in arm as they sing their National anthem along with thousands in the stadium, or performing a traditional ancient warrior dance as an invitation to battle has a much higher YOG value.
American Football 0 Rugby 1
TOUCHDOWNS vs TRIES
The fact that a Football offensive playbook is around the size of phonebook suggests that scoring a touchdown is quite an intricate process. Things happen so fast when the ball is snapped that the vision and decision making abilities of Quarterbacks is nothing short of genius, and the agility of running backs and handling of wide receivers can be majestic.
The beauty of a typical rugby try however is that every person on the entire team has the opportunity to handle the ball. And while the ball isn’t allowed to be passed forward, it can be kicked, adding a whole new element of skill to the equation. Having to ground the ball in the Try zone is also the last piece of the puzzle which can sometimes prove to be a tough challenge in itself.
But Football very narrowly edges out Rugby on this one. Bearing in mind that the field is also 30 metres (33yds) narrower than a Rugby pitch, the precision and speed usually required to score a touchdown is mind boggling.
American Football 1 Rugby 1
Yes, Football players wear a lot of padding and helmets. This just means they recklessly collide with each other like rams during mating season. Being allowed to hit without using arms also contributes to some spine bending collisions.
On the other hand, rugby tackles, while brutal at times, are subjected to more regulation for safety reasons, such as not being allowed to hit anybody in the air, or lift flip a players legs higher than the level of their head (unlike Football). And because play continues after a tackle, they tend to be of a more tactical nature rather than just trying to stop the play while also attempting to break the ball carrier in half.
So which is more yoggish? I’ll have to go for rugby on this one. Especially with the peacocking antics of a Football player after making a big hit, compared to rugby players who have to get back up immediately and carry on, usually to make another tackle!
American Football 1 Rugby 2
POST TOUCHDOWN/TRY CELEBRATIONS
Whether it’s The Dougie, The Jerk, The Choppa City Juke, or pretty much everything Terrell Owens does…celebrating touchdowns is an NFL tradition, despite constant efforts to outlaw the often unsportsmanlike end zone gestures.
Try celebrations are a more recent addition to Rugby and seem to be on the rise. It’s safe to say that most of these celebrations, particularly of the dancing variety were inspired by their NFL counterparts.
As for which has the higher YOG factor? It was tempting to not award any points, because even though they can be highly entertaining, YOGs remain modest about their achievements. Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi summed it up when he said “act as though you’ve been there before”.
However, being a YOG is also about enjoying yourself, and who doesn’t enjoy a good celebration? American footballers show us how.
American Football 2 Rugby 2
There’s no doubt about it…American Footballers are freakish athletic specimens, many of whom possess speed and strength that wouldn’t look out of place at the Olympic Games.
A Football team is a collection of humans with highly specialized attributes for their respective positions, with each play averaging 6 seconds, while stoppages between plays average 47 seconds. Rugby on the other hand, requires each player to possess all round physical qualities, while also needing a much higher cardiovascular fitness as plays can last up to 3 ½ minutes, with less frequent and shorter stoppages than Football.
For this reason Rugby wins the vote in this category because being a YOG is all about achieving balance.
American Football 2 Rugby 3
THE FIELD GOAL
I added this category because field goals are a commonly used method of scoring points in both games.
In Football, the kicker of the field goal has limited time, having to contend with pressure from opposition linesman, not to mention the ball being placed and held incorrectly by the holder. The ball also has a smaller surface area and is tougher to strike it accurately and for long distances.
In rugby, the ball is dropped to the ground and struck by the kicker on the bounce leaving more room for error. While there is still pressure from advancing defenders, the kicker can choose any time to kick.
Overall, the rugby field goal is more yoggish because there is freedom to kick from anywhere, is more dynamic and high risk, and the kicker gets the job done on his own, without relying on others to help him.
American Football 2 Rugby 4
It could be argued that cheerleading objectifies women, hence not aligning with the deeper moral fibers of YOGs. But we’re not dealing with strip clubs here, we’re talking pom poms and frilly skirts. After all, YOGs are men, we appreciate female beauty and like to be entertained!
In comparison, this one is no contest. While Rugby has come a long way in providing some quality cheerleading in terms of both looks and choreography, it just simply can’t compete with a nation that brought us Miss Universe pageants and the Bring it On movie series.
American Football 3 Rugby 4
Life is short and time is precious. YOGs don’t really want to see a game which starts with 60 mins on the clock, yet takes nearly 3 ½ hours to complete. The only bearable way to cope with this is heading to a sports bar to join fans of several different teams watch several different TV screens and socialize for the 2 ½ hours that the ball isn’t in play. Or better yet, arrive 5 hours early to a live game, preferably College Football and hone your beer pong skills while devouring some fine American BBQ cuisine.
While Rugby lacks the Sunday sports bar and tailgating vibe, it makes up for it with the gathering of different nationalities during International matches and tournaments. The carnival atmosphere of an all day International Rugby Sevens tournament, with 50 % of the crowd in fancy dress is quite unique. Popping interstate to an NFL game in New York is pretty cool. Traveling to Hong Kong for a 3 day International Rugby Tournament is just downright yoggish!
American football 3 Rugby 5
When 30 seconds of commercial air time during Super Bowl costs $4 million, you know it’s gotta be good. With A-list celebrities and Hollywood style productions, Football commercials, even during the regular season, have a comedic edge which generally leave rugby commercials for dead. And while Rugby can provide the odd gem, usually during a big event like the World Cup, these are few and far between.
FINAL SCORE American Football 4 Rugby 5
So there you have it, Rugby officially has more YOG appeal than American Football. And with Rugby now an Olympic Sport, hopefully it will gain the popularity and exposure here in the USA that it deserves.