Soccer vs Rugby: The Differences & Similarities | 2024

Rugby and soccer (often called football) are very famous team sports, and they have special things that make them different

Both games come from Europe and have a similar beginning. In 1863, a group called the Association of Football made the rules for one of these games in England. They used the names “Rugby” and “Football” to tell them apart.

The word “soccer” was made up later, in the 1880s in England. So, the kind of football we know today started in England, while Rugby has a longer history

This article will talk about the specific rules, how the fields are sized, the shape of the ball, how they score points, the organizations that control them, how many people like them, and more.

Team Composition & Field Dimensions

Rugby is a tough and physical sport where teams have 13 to 15 players on the field at one time. That’s a lot of players, making a total of 26 to 30 players clashing in a fierce battle.

The rugby field is quite spacious, stretching out to 100 meters in length and 70 meters in width, giving plenty of room for action-packed gameplay.

Soccer teams are a bit smaller, with 11 players on each team, making it a total of 22 players on the field during a match.

The soccer field is a little flexible in size, ranging from 100 to 110 meters in length and 64 to 75 meters in width. This variability in field size ensures that each game can be played with a different layout, making it a dynamic and fast-paced sport.

Ball Shape and Size

Soccer vs Rugby: The Differences & Similarities

The rugby ball has a special shape that sets it apart.

It’s like a stretched-out egg, not quite round. It’s 30 cm long, 62 cm wide, and has a circumference of 77 cm. This unique shape, resembling an elongated egg, makes the ball behave in interesting ways, affecting how it bounces and how players handle it during the game.

While, the soccer ball is perfectly round, like a sphere.

It has a standard size with a circumference of 71 cm. This spherical design is intentional, allowing players to kick it with great precision and control.

This design contributes to the finesse and skillfulness often seen in soccer, making the game beautiful to watch.

Game Duration and Substitutions

A regular rugby game is split into two parts, and each part goes on for 40 minutes.

Here’s something interesting: there’s no break between these halves. This keeps the game going without interruptions, making it really exciting to watch.

Teams can switch out players up to seven times during the game, which is handy for changing tactics and keeping players fresh.

Soccer matches also have two halves, just a bit longer, lasting 45 minutes each.

Like in rugby, there are no timeouts in soccer, so the action keeps flowing. However, soccer teams have a stricter substitution rule, allowing only three substitutions during the game.

This rule can have a big impact on how teams play and how well the players can keep up their energy.

Scoring Systems & Governing Bodies

In rugby, scoring points happen in a few ways.

One way is by carrying the ball across the opponent’s goal line, which is called a “try,” and it’s worth 5 points. Another way is kicking the ball through the goalposts, which can earn points through conversions (2 points) or drop goals (3 points).

In soccer, the main goal is to kick the ball into the opponent’s net to score a goal, and each goal gets the team 1 point.

There are 17 specific rules, known as laws, that guide how soccer is played, making sure everything is fair. A referee keeps an eye on the game to ensure everyone follows these laws.

The top authority for rugby is the International Rugby Board, while for soccer, it’s the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA).

These organizations are in charge of making important decisions and setting the rules for their respective sports around the world.

Global Popularity

Soccer is super famous all over the world, especially in places like Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It’s loved by a massive number of people and is one of the most popular sports played and watched worldwide.

Now, rugby is a big deal in countries that have British colonial history like England, as well as former colonies such as France, Australia, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.

It’s not as popular everywhere, but in these specific regions, it has a very dedicated following.

People there love rugby because it’s a challenging sport that needs a lot of strategy, and that really gets the fans excited.

Soccer vs Rugby: The Differences & Similarities

Soccer vs Rugby

Number of playersIn rugby, a team has 13 to 15 players.In soccer, a team has 11 players.
FieldDimensions: 100*70 meters.Length: 100 to 110 meters, Breadth: 64 to 75 meters.
BallRugby uses an elongated ball: Length – 30 cm, Circumference – 77 cm, Breadth – 62 cm. Shape: Prolate Spheroid.Soccer uses a spherical ball with a circumference of 71 cm.
Time LimitRugby game: two halves of 40 minutes each.Soccer game: two halves of 45 minutes each.

Which is Easier: Rugby or Soccer?

Deciding if soccer or rugby is easier depends on a few things, like what you like, how you’re built, and what skills you’re good at. Both games have their own challenges and need different abilities.


  • Simplicity: Soccer has more straightforward rules and equipment. The main goal is to score by kicking the ball into the other team’s net.
  • Physical demands: Soccer needs a lot of running, quick moves, and good fitness. You also need to control the ball well.
  • Strategy: Soccer focuses on working together, where you stand on the field, and handling the ball. It involves fast passing, moving without the ball, and knowing how to defend.


  • Complexity: Rugby has more complicated rules, different ways to score (try, conversion, penalty kick, drop goal), and the game has specialized parts.
  • Physical demands: Rugby is a very tough sport. You need to be strong, tackle well, and have good endurance. You’ll face collisions and contact a lot.
  • Strategy: Rugby mixes teamwork and individual play, and there are many strategies for attacking and defending. Knowing about set pieces (like scrums and lineouts) and how to deal with rucking is super important.

Will soccer Players Find Rugby Easy?

Switching from soccer to rugby involves considering several factors that impact how well soccer players can adapt to the world of rugby. 

Soccer players often possess attributes like agility, endurance, and speed, which can be assets in rugby.

They also share skills such as spatial awareness and quick decision-making, which can be useful. However, rugby has a physical intensity characterized by robust contact and muscular engagement, unlike soccer’s more minimal physicality.

Soccer players must embrace the more physical aspects of rugby, including tackling and physical confrontations, which are integral to the game.

The transition goes beyond physical aspects.

Soccer emphasizes footwork and ball control, while rugby involves hand-eye coordination, ball-handling, and strategic kicking.

Soccer players making the switch to rugby must acquire these new skills and adapt to the different dynamics of rugby’s ball movement, including passing and handling the ball with their hands.

Will Rugby Players Find Soccer Easy?

Transitioning from rugby to soccer involves several factors affecting adaptability to the new sport.

While there are similarities, like athleticism and awareness, there are also key differences in physical attributes, gameplay, and skills that can pose challenges.

Physically, rugby players have strong bodies for tackling, while soccer players prioritize speed and agility. While rugby players’ hand-eye coordination is useful, soccer needs precise footwork and ball control.

The gameplay and strategies vary significantly.

Rugby involves physical contact, while soccer focuses on possession, passing, and positioning. The shift from using hands to feet for handling the ball requires a significant adjustment.

Soccer roles differ greatly too.

Goalkeepers need quick reflexes, forwards must position well and finish, and midfielders require strong passing and decision-making. Rugby players switching to soccer must understand and adapt to these diverse responsibilities.

When should you choose rugby over soccer?

Rugby is a sport that welcomes all kinds of bodies. There are two main groups of positions in rugby: the forwards, who are more physical, and the backs, who focus on speed and agility.

So, no matter your body type or fitness level, there’s a spot for you on the rugby field.

If you’re big and strong, you might fit well in forward positions like the props (numbers one and three).

If you’re small and quick, you could shine in positions like the wings (eleven and fifteen).

Tall players often do well as locks/second rows (four and five). But really, there’s room for all types, each with specific roles that suit different skills, whether you’re great at sprinting or tackling.

Soccer players also come in different shapes, but height tends to matter more. People sometimes wonder if soccer makes you taller, and there’s more to learn about that, so check out the details if you’re curious.

The physical intensity of rugby games brings teammates closer, forming strong bonds. In soccer, a single superstar player can carry a team, but in rugby, everyone has a vital role, and the team’s strength relies on everyone working together.

This means every player matters, no matter their specific skills.

Being fit all over your body is crucial in rugby, and playing naturally helps you develop that fitness. The mix of strength and endurance needed for rugby means playing the sport leads to excellent overall fitness.

Players do all sorts of movements – running, tackling, kicking, and even lifting teammates during a rugby game.