5 Things Football Can Learn from Rugby

The egg chasers may have a point


Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s begin.

Respect the ref

Heard repeatedly to such an extent it’s almost become a broken record, but it’s understandable. Despite spending the best part of an hour and a half crashing into each other, interrupted by the occasional unplanned punch-up, rugby players’ respect for the referee is a fundamental part of the sport.

Contrast that to football where respect has instead been ousted and replaced with conning, abusing and constantly questioning the man with the whistle. Quite simply, it ain’t right. If the referee’s decision isn’t final, then what’s the point of him or her even being there? The decision has been made, accept it and move on. And if you don’t like it, expect a hefty punishment.

Sin bins

A footballer is more than happy to take a yellow card if it means stopping the opposition from launching a dangerous attack, knowing their booking may have little consequence. But what if it meant they’d have to leave the pitch and their team was a man down for ten minutes?

In rugby, the sin bin law has helped cut back on professional fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct. Introducing it in football would probably go a long way to stamping out the petulance that plagues the sport.

Video technology

Football has been playing catch up with this for years. While it’s finally making some inroads, for a sport with so many variables it still lags behind when compared to rugby.

For those of the oval ball persuasion, every major decision is analysed to support the referee and ensure the correct decision is made. Meanwhile, a footie fan has witnessed more criminal decisions than they’ve hot dinners. Goal line technology is a step in the right direction, but it really should be the tip of the iceberg.

Critics say the overuse of technology could kill the pace of games, but a match (or indeed a season) shouldn’t be defined by a poor decision. It might even stop Jose Mourinho winging – an incentive if ever there was one.

Blood replacements

In both sports, if a player is bleeding, he has to leave the pitch to stem the flow of the red stuff before returning to the pitch. In rugby, a ‘blood replacement’ is brought on until their team mate returns, thus ensuring the opposition doesn’t have a numerical advantage.

Makes sense doesn’t it? Not the case in football, with sides having to cope being down to ten men for any given length of time while their injured colleague gets patched up. Hardly seems fair considering it’s a contact sport.

Toughening up

Footballers seem to have taken the heralding of their sport as being ‘the beautiful game’ so literally they’ve become allergic to physical contact.

Meanwhile, ask a rugby player to take a dive and they’d look at you like you’d insulted their mother. In football, they’d probably sell you their mother if it meant they’d get a penalty out of it.

You get the point. Yes, the FA is trying to clamp down on this – any player caught deceiving referees can now get a three match ban. But diving and rolling around like they’ve been picked off by a Royal Marine sharpshooter are now so endemic in football it’s not just infecting games, but the very core of the sport itself.

What do you think football could learn from rugby? Let us know below.

Discussion feed
  • During national anthems, you always see rugby players singing for all their worth; with a lot of footballers, their lips barely move. There just seems to be a gulf in passion when it comes to international tournaments, particularly true when you compare the respective England teams.

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