"On average, rugby players and American football players suffer a similar number of injuries at the end of a year, yet the number of tackles taking place in a rugby game is almost three times higher than in an American football match. What should be analysed is, then, the intensity of those tackles when considering who takes the bigger hit.
"Certain actions that are unlawful in rugby are allowed in American football – high tackles, hits to the head - and that is why players in the modern game wear a lot of body protection (body armour, helmets, and gloves). However, this protective gear is not enough to prevent damage. Not long ago, a settlement was agreed between the NFL and their former players to compensate the damages they had suffered due to concussions during their playing days.
"Recent studies have shown also that players who suffer concussion are at greater risk of other injuries due to impaired neuromuscular control and reduced proprioceptive control."
"Psychologically, this body armour increases the risk of injury. Wearing a helmet can incentivise a player to hit the opponents even harder, and that’s a risk that rugby doesn’t have. Nonetheless, concussion is a real concern for rugby decision makers too. That’s why they recently introduced the “head-injury assessment” ruling, which means that players who suffer concussions must be temporarily out of the game to be assessed by the medical team. Recent studies have shown also that players who suffer concussion are at greater risk of other injuries due to impaired neuromuscular control and reduced proprioceptive control.
- Rugby: not for the faint hearted.
"In terms of physical preparation, in rugby all players attack and defend and the game never stops as it does in American football, which slows down briefly after each player. This continuity on the game provokes fatigue, and fatigue increases the risk of injury to both muscular and ligamentous structures.
"On the other hand, in American football, players don’t need to last for extended periods on the pitch because the game is stopped every now and then and those who have attacking roles might not be there when the team is defending. Additionally, several rugby injuries are produced during scrums, something American football don’t have.
"Since the answer to this question can vary depending on what you understand by “punishing”, and we have already seen that both sports have their own risks, you could say they’re tied in this respect. If you really care about your integrity, I suggest that you try the lighter versions of each sport. Touch rugby and touch football are definitely safer, even if purists might say they have nothing to do with the original modalities."