I have been going to football matches since I was 5 but in the last few months I have been to my first two rugby games and have already noticed some real differences.
1. National Anthem.
At football games only some people sing the national anthem and the ones that do don’t sing nearly with as much passion as rugby fans. This applies to the players as well where some don’t sing whereas all the rugby players do and they put their all into it!
This is perhaps the thing that surprised me the most. It starts with each team and fans respecting each other as you should by applauding the team when they come on. In comparison, the fans at football boo the other team! Then one of the strangest things for me was when the other team takes a penalty or conversion and a sign comes up on the TV reading “Please respect the kicker.” The crowd responds by going completely silent compared to football where they would be booing and trying to put the person off as much as they could. The referee is also respected for his decisions whereas everyone questions him for everything at football and give him abuse.
At football there are many chants, most of them including swearing whereas at Rugby there are fewer chants and if there are some they are sung better and are not disrespectful to anyone!
One thing I felt strongly about after the match was that football should look over any key decisions like penalties and fouls again if the referee is not sure. It might slow the game down a bit but at least it is fair and there wouldn’t be any complaints at the end of the game. It is also quite exciting to see as a fan as they look at the replay a few times to make sure they have got the right decision. In football it is a split second thing which is why there are so many mistakes. I suppose we have started to follow other sports in having goal line technology and spray painting 10 metres for a free kick but we are still a long way off which is annoying as it would make it much fairer.
5. Trust (With the fans)
Another thing I found amazing was that firstly the fans were allowed to take beer inside the stadium which doesn’t happen at football and this is followed by fans from opposite sides sitting near each other. There was no single area where the French fans where they were just spread out amongst all the England fans and from what I saw they was no conflict between them. This is so much different to football where fans have to sit away from each other and if they don’t there are fights and people are removed from the stadium.
So overall taking everything into account rugby is definitely a lot fairer, nicer and respectful than football but I will always like football better as the feeling when your team scores is a lot better than rugby as there are usually quite alot of tries in a game. Football is also what I have been brought up with and that is why it will always be my favourite sport although I do think football could learn a lot from rugby!