[Vice Sports] What American Football Can Learn from the Rugby World Cup

Once upon a time, American football and rugby were pretty much one and the same. Then came Walter Camp and the 1880 college football rules convention that replaced scrums with an uncontested line of scrimmage, and a subsequent century of increasing delineation and mutual indifference: hard plastic helmets and the domestic dominance of Monday Night Football on one side; “Give Blood, Play Rugby” T-shirts and international appeal on the other.

Still, football and rugby aren’t that different. Both sports require speed, strength, and guile. Both involve large men moving an oblong ball across a field, clobbering each other along the way. The Rugby World Cup wraps up on Saturday in London with a final between New Zealand and Australia. Meanwhile, across the pond, American football is paying more attention to its predecessor than ever before, as teams in college and the NFL mine rugby for players and ideas in the ongoing quest for that all-important competitive edge.

In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks released a video explaining a wrap tackling method: come see the Legion of Boom show why they were one of the NFL’s top units three years running! Spliced into drills and examples is footage of rugby union tackles that demonstrate just how closely the Seahawks emulate the techniques of the older game.

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