Why do American Football Players Wear So Much Protective Clothing and Rugby Players don’t? (Find Out Now!)

Last Updated on May 15, 2022 by

In simple terms, NFL players wear protective clothing while Rugby players don’t because the rules of engagement is different in both sports. The violent nature of the NFL requires an improved safety standard for players which makes helmets, padding, and other protective equipment worn by players are important to prevent serious injuries. In Rugby on the other hand, there are restrictions on how players can tackle each other and bodily contact is limited compared to the NFL where tackling occurs both on and off the ball. In broader terms, both NFL and rugby shares obvious similarity but are different sports in their entirety.

Several features in the NFL make protective clothing an essential requirement for players’ safety while the lack of such features in Rugby makes protective equipment less important. Head injuries are a usual occurrence in NFL due to how the game is designed which brought about the introduction of helmets as a means of protection. However, injuries are not common in Rugby ddue to the rules and regulations on tackling. In addition to the above narratives, tackles are made with the ball and off the ball, with the ball carrier particularly likely to be from an unexpected direction. In rugby, tackles are made in a one-on-one situation which reduces the risk of injuries.

As both are physically demanding sports, the reason why NFL players wear protective clothing while the rugby players don’t do so will be analyzed in this article. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Why do NFL players wear so much protective clothing and Rugby players don’t?

Why do NFL players wear so much protective clothing

Fundamentally, The NFL and Rugby are two distinct sports with different rules and strategies. The NFL is designed with no rules guiding how players tackle each other during games. Players hit themselves ferociously which makes injuries a common occurrence, particularly head injuries and dislocations. As a measure of protection, Protective equipment is made compulsory for NFL players during games to prevent severe injuries or reduce them to the barest minimum. In general, the way NFL is programmed, playing the game without protective clothing will lead to severe injuries. On the other hand, Rugby is a more controlled sport with rules guiding tackles to ensure minimal cases of injuries during games. Illegal tackles are penalized accordingly in rugby which limits the occurrence of head injuries or concussions during games. Conclusively, Rugby is a contact sport while NFL can be considered a collision sport, which makes protective clothing important to prevent injuries and ultimately improve the safety of players.

Are American football and rugby the same sports?

No! The two sports are different and are played in different ways with completely different rules and regulations. How the NFL is designed is different with players getting little or no protection by the rules while Rugby is governed by rules that offer some amount of protection for its players. In the NFL, Features like blocking and forward passes often results in a very high-speed collision between players running at full speed. Rugby lack such features as blocking players are not part of the rules of the game. In addition, forward pass is not allowed in Rugby and violent collision is not a usual occurrence as compared to NFL. Furthermore, both sports are different in gameplay, rules, amount of players, equipment, timing or duration of play, and substitutions.

Why don’t Rugby players wear protective gears like helmets?

Why don’t Rugby players wear helmets

Aside from the scrum cap worn on the head, the majority of rugby players don’t wear any other protective clothing. In basic terms, helmets are not worn by Rugby players due to the rules that limit the use of the head as a point of contact during games. All tackles above the shoulder are deemed illegal and tackles made on players without the ball are penalized. Strict rules are designed to limit head injuries and this makes wearing helmets less important for rugby players during games.

What are the major similarities and differences between American football and Rugby?

NFL and Rugby are distinct sports played with different rules and strategies. In similarities, both sports share some terminologies and commence play with strict offside lines separating the two oppositions. However, the are differences in the way both sports are played and how the rules are applied. This table is a comparison chart highlighting several differences between the two sports.

American footballRugby
Major championship played is the NFL Major championship includes super 15, RFU, ITM cup, NAT league 1& 2 etc.
Played primarily in the United States and Canada.Played Worldwide, particularly more in south Africa and New  Zealand.
The number of referees is 3-6 with booth review.4 referees with the television match official as well as 2 assistant referees.
The duration of the game is 60 minutes in total.The normal duration time is 80 minutes, 40 minutes per half.
Team players are eleven per team.The team consists of 15 players for the union.
Players are allowed to wear protective wear like helmets, chest pads, and shoulder pads.Players are only allowed to wear modest padding on the head and shoulders, as well as a Mouthguard.
Unlimited substitution is allowed. Up to only seven substitutions are allowed.


We have a compiled list of frequently asked questions on why NFL players wear so much protective equipment and rugby players don’t. Let’s check them out!

What is the origin of Rugby and American football?

The origin of rugby is traced back to England in the 19th century. America football was developed from rugby and it was said that it was the British colonist from Canada that brought rugby to America.

What safety equipment are rugby players allowed to wear?

As a rule, No form of metal is allowed in any rugby kit. However, players are allowed to wear a Scrum cap and gum shield.

What are the rectangular bulges on the back of rugby players’ uniforms?

The bulge is a GPS tracker used as an essential tool to track players’ performance during games.

Final words

NFL is a collision sport and protective clothing is important as a  safety measure to enhance protection for its players. Rugby on the other hand is a contact sport and there are safety rules guiding the game to prevent injuries. 

We hope you find this article informative enough to answer all your queries about the article topic. If you have more questions, kindly reach out to us via the comment section.


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