Updated: Jun 17, 2020
So 5 rounds into the NRL season, (3 rounds watched live for me), I've really noticed similarities between rugby league down in Australia/New Zealand, and football in the USA.
And with all this sport hiatus, I really feel like NRL is more fun and exciting to watch. Obviously that is a matter of opinion and I've been starved of football games, but when the NFL starts back up and my Patriots turn a new leaf with quarterback Jarrett Stidham, I cannot wait to turn my TV on all day Sunday.
Let's look at some comparisons between rugby league, and America's greatest game:
A try: 4 points
A conversion: 2 points
80 min games (2 40min halves)
10 min golden point overtime
1 point for a field goal
6 tackles before kicking away
Scoring team gets ball back
A touchdown: 6 points
An extra point: 1 point
60min game (4 15min quarters)
10min overtime TD 1st drive or next score
3 points for a field goal
4 downs with restarts after each 10yard gain
Scoring team kicks ball to opposition
Safety precautions are like babying players
It's pretty sweet seeing NRL players making the leap from the NRL to the NFL. One name that has been thrown around quite a bit these past few weeks is Valentine Holmes. The former Cronulla Shark took his talents stateside, signing with the New York Jets. And although that didn't pan out (he was released mid November of the 2019 season), it was interesting to learn about the transition with crossing sports. Playing in just three preseason games, Holmes had 11 runs for 9 yards and caught 8 passes for 85 yards in 2019. However, coming back down under for the 2020 season in the NRL, Holmes has been a key cog in the Cowboys squad, posting 2 tries and 12 goals with 5 try assists.
What intrigues me about NRL over NFL:
I love the fast-paced speed of the game. This game is non-stop, back and forth action. It literally is like football but consistently constant. There are no blockers, you go full steam ahead into the opposing line, and once you're tackled, you start the next "down" right away. There's no 40 second play clock, walking up to the line, changing plays based on the defense and snapping the ball for 4 seconds of action, just to repeat it all over again. I have realized the slow and methodical pace that the NFL is played at.
In the NRL there's a kick off, but instead of it being used as a toilet break for fans like the NFL, the players catch the ball and go smack dab right into the defensive line, get up and start their "first down". This gets repeated for five tackles, then they "punt" it to the opposing team and run down the field to tackle them. The opposing team then begins their 6 tackle set. There is no break in the play, there is no switching of offensive, defensive, or special teams players, and there are no time outs. The players on the field are the players on the field.
I have realized in the last three weeks of watching rugby league quite religiously, there is no down time. There are no real breaks until halftime. It's action both ways. The hits are hard AF, and the toughness of the players are second-to-none. Every player has a role but every player can impact the game in their own way. Even field goals are kicked within the realm of play, meaning when a team is ready to kick a field goal they have to adjust themselves within the action to set up and successfully attempt it.
All in all, rugby league is a much faster game than football. It's fun once you're invested as there is so much going on and you have to pay attention to keep up.
What intrigues me about NFL over NRL:
I grew up with the NFL. I grew up with the players and teams and rivalries. I grew up with the way the game is played and have become accustom to it. I have six SuperBowl rings to my team's name in my lifetime. It has been quite a successful run of over 20 years of New England Patriots fandom, and that will never change.
The production the NFL puts into each game every week is unrivaled. There is SO much going on, from pre game anthems and kickoff, to some halftime entertainment and post game ceremonies. Football is more than just a game. It's a show.
The average length of time football is actually played each down is 4 seconds. But those four seconds can be either very exciting, or piss poor. You can have a QB sack, you can have a long throw, you can have a huge hit or a turnover on the exciting end of this 4 second spectrum. But you also get the 0 yard rushes, the incomplete passes, the false start penalties, all happening within a couple seconds, then you need to wait almost a minute before the next play. A very up and down game with a bunch of breaks, on top of a 2 minute warning stoppage and three timeouts each half.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've perfected knowing what moment in the game I can go to the toilet, or get up and grab a beer, or look down at my phone. On the other hand, watching the NRL, my eyes are glued to the screen for the most part, as there is always something happening. Which also isn't necessarily a bad thing.
So all in all, both games are great. NRL is more fast paced action. NFL has that production value in and amongst the stoppages in play which makes up for time spent waiting around.
I will never stop watching the NFL, it is in my blood now, but rugby league, and the NRL more specifically, has captured my heart and I don't think it will ever fade.