Stranger Fruit

Six Nations and Hard Hits

Ireland kicked off its Six Nations Championship campaign with a 19-9 victory over Wales today in Cardiff. Next up are France (who shellacked Italy, 39 – 3).Since it is practically impossible to see any European rugby here in the US, I haven’t a clue what transpired during either game.

On the other hand, media saturation regarding the Super Bowl is due to occur any second now. So as a service to my American readers who think that American football is a tough game, I give you these Rugby League hits – note the absence of pads and helmets and the fact that players stay on the field for the whole game rather than wandering off to sit down and drink Gatorade every few minutes.


  1. #1 G. Shelley
    February 4, 2007

    For completeness, I think it worth adding that Rugby League is a different sport, though related to the one in the Six Nations.

  2. #2 Trinifar
    February 4, 2007

    I wonder if rugby — sans pads and helmets — has the same effect on its players as American football does? I’m referring of course to the fact that anyone who plays professional football here for any length of time becomes permanently damaged. In a recent interview Joe Montana (famous quarter back for SF 49ers) now at the age of 50 bemoaned that he could do no more than play catch with his children due to all the injuries during his career. He can not even turn his neck freely but must turn his shoulders to turn his head.

  3. #3 Lincoln
    February 4, 2007

    I think that not only are the hits in league bigger but they are also more skillful that the hits in NFL.

    But for pure excitement, you can’t go past the AFL!

    On the subject of rugby though,

    I’ve given up on the 15s. My team has been doing to badly recently, although I’m hoping they’ll pull out a blinder in the world cup. I’m just sticking to the 7s for a while, and I’m just going to ignore that we lost to Samoa in the semi-finals of the last tournament…

  4. #4 Lincoln
    February 4, 2007

    oh, and on the subject of whether the players end up damaged. I don’t think it is as bad a NFL, because a lot of the tackles that are legal in NFL will get you banned (for a few games) in rugby or league e.g. No head high tackles, or lifting and tipping people past the horizontal.

  5. #5 John Lynch
    February 4, 2007


    New Zealand, yes?

  6. #6 Doug
    February 4, 2007

    Also Rugby doesn’t have as many of the multiple simultaneous hits on a player (sacking the quarterback – ouch). Mostly it is one tackler at a time.

    However, in rugby the players do have to get up again and keep on running. They tend to be smaller (240 pounds is a big player) so less mass to cause damage.

    Most serious injuries in rugby union relate to the scrum (collapsing the scrum)

    Cheers Doug

    From the home of the Hurricanes and land of the gods of rugby

  7. #7 Lincoln
    February 4, 2007

    yeah, I live in New Zealand, but I’m from (and support) South Africa

  8. #8 Duke York
    February 5, 2007

    Well, from my experience in both (American) football and rugby, I’d have to say that rugby is a lot less dangerous. Since you don’t have pads and helmets in rugby, you can’t piledrive yourself into your opponents. There was one guy who moved from the football to the rugby, and every season, he’d break his nose because he was tackling with his face. His face. Even with pads and neck-rolls and helmets, he’d still be jamming the most important and delicate part of his body into a wall of flesh at a full-out sprint. Look at the hits in the video; a good portion of the time, they’re wrapping up (by which I mean putting there arms around the man with the ball–when was the last time an NFL player do that if he didn’t have to?), and the rest, they’re slamming their chest and arms in the carrier, not the tops of their shoulders and their heads.

    More importantly, rugby is much less chaotic than football, despite how it looks from out here. In football, a hit can come from anywhere at any angle; you’re just as likely to get your legs blocked out from under you as to get tackled. In rugby, though, since there’s no downfield blocking, you know you’re not going to get hit like that unless you have have the ball. And yes, the scrum can be dangerous, but only if you don’t set it up right; it’s 14 big men’s muscle power, all carefully balanced, and if you do it wrong, it can snap your neck, but if you do it right, it’s just occasionally uncomfortable.

    Sorry — “Is rugby or football more dangerous?” is one of my pet schpiels.


  9. #9 Bob O'H
    February 6, 2007

    For your listening pleasure – the BBC is streaming coverage on Five Live, so you can at least listen to the matches. I listened to the Ireland-Wales match, and it sounded like neither side was terribly impressive. It might change as the tournament progresses (although, as an Englishman, I hope not).

    Oh, and as a Northerner, it’s nice to see you using the right code to show how hard rugby is!


  10. #10 John Lynch
    February 6, 2007


    Sweet. Thanks for the BBC tip.

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