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Rugby is the precursor of American football and has been played in the United States since about 1870.

American football, as well as basketball, owes many of its characteristics to rugby. In fact, basketball was invented by James Naismith as an indoor alternative to Rugby when the New England winters required an indoor game. Some of rugby’s characteristics such as quick switches between attack and defense, ball handling and committing defenders to attack space are all found in basketball. 

Similarly, American football evolved with many of the same principles, strategies and tactics as Rugby. However, there are several differences. In Rugby there is no blocking and the ball may not be thrown  or handed forward.  Play does not end with the tackle.  Play is continuous even when the ball changes possession. All players on the field, regardless of playing position; are expected to run, pass, kick and catch the ball. Likewise, all players must also be able to tackle and defend, making each playing position both offensive and defensive in nature.   A standard match consists of two 40-minute halves. 

The laws of rugby are the same for both men and women (boys and girls).  Tackle rugby is coed at younger ages.  Almost forty percent of players in the U. S. are female. 


The International Rugby Board, (the worldwide rugby governing body), Playing Charter states:

"Rugby owes much of its appeal to the fact that it is played both to the letter and within the spirit of the Laws. The responsibility for ensuring this practice lies not with one individual -- it involves coaches, captains, players and referees. It is through discipline, control and mutual respect that the spirit of the game flourishes and, in the context of a game as physically challenging as Rugby, these are the qualities which forge the fellowship and sense of fair play so essential to the game’s ongoing success and survival.

Rugby is valued as a sport for men and women, boys and girls. It builds teamwork, understanding, co-operation and respect for fellow athletes. It is because of, not despite, rugby’s intensely physical and athletic characteristics that such great camaraderie exists before and after matches."

To help further the positive values that rugby engenders, USA Rugby has partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance© (PCA). Through its coach education and development programs, USA Rugby promotes the "Double-Goal Coach," who wants to win but has a second, more important, goal of using sports to teach life lessons; and the principle of "Honoring the Game." This includes having respect for the ROOTS of the game; Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self.

(Sources: and