Distant Cousins: 3 Sports an Outsider Will Almost Certainly Mistake for Rugby

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Distant Cousins: 3 Sports an Outsider Will Almost Certainly Mistake for Rugby

The more fans a sport has, the more recognizable it becomes to outsiders – those not playing them, not watching them, not interested in them in any way. Association football is perhaps the most played and most popular sport of all time – when you see a bunch of kids playing it in the street, you can immediately tell. Rugby, in turn, exists in a state of constant misunderstanding in many parts of the world. There are many – outsiders, of course – who call a vast variety of sports played with an oval ball “rugby” even though, aside from their common distant origin, they have nothing to do with neither Union nor League.

Gaelic football

Gaelic football is one of the top sports played in Ireland and, for many outsiders, it seems nothing but a game of rugby played with a spherical ball. Aside from the very obvious, there are many other differences between the two, ranging from the size of the field to the rules governing kicks, tackles, and points. There are a few apparent similarities as well – the most obvious being carrying the ball in one’s hand – that add to the confusion.

Aussie rules

Australian rules football – Aussie rules or Footy, as it is often called – is another offshoot of the original game invented at the Rugby School in England. This time, the ball is oval, making the game appear much more similar to rugby than its Gaelic cousin. The differences, in this case, are, in turn, much deeper. First and foremost, Aussie rules football is played on an oval field, often a modified cricket field. Then, there’s the rule regarding running with the ball – players must intermittently bounce or otherwise touch the ball on the ground, a little like in basketball.

Canadian football

If you live in Europe, chances are you have never even heard of the Canadian Football League – and even if you’ve seen a CFL match, you may have mistaken it for American football. And by this, you may have probably offended quite a few mind-mannered Canadian sports fans.

As you might expect, Canadian football is another offshoot of rugby, introduced to Canada in the 1860s. Canadian football is a variation of rugby with added padding – the players wear helmets and shoulder pads, among others – and various differences in the code. The fields on which the matches are played are of a similar size and shape, and so is the ball. One major difference between the two is that a try is scored when the player touches the ball to the ground while a “touchdown” in Canadian football doesn’t require the ball to hit the dirt – which makes the name “touchdown” a bit of an oxymoron…

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