Difference Wiki

Rugby vs. Soccer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 24, 2023
Rugby is a contact sport with handling the ball, tackling, and goalposts, while soccer (football) involves non-contact play focused on kicking a ball into a goal.

Key Differences

Rugby is characterized by physical contact, such as tackling, scrums, and rucks, whereas soccer strictly prohibits most physical contact, penalizing players for tackles and holds.
In rugby, players can carry, pass, and kick the ball, but in soccer, players predominantly use their feet, with hands used only by goalkeepers within their designated area.
Rugby matches involve goalposts with a crossbar and a H-shaped structure, where scoring can be done by grounding the ball behind the opponent's goal line or kicking it through the goalposts. While, soccer uses a rectangular goal without a crossbar, and scoring is achieved by kicking the ball into the net.
The shape of the ball differs: rugby uses an oval ball, conducive to carrying and kicking in different ways, while soccer uses a spherical ball, designed for being kicked and headed.
Rugby teams consist of 15 players (or 7 in rugby sevens), covering various positions like forwards and backs. Soccer teams are made up of 11 players, including positions like defenders, midfielders, forwards, and a goalkeeper.

Comparison Chart

Contact Level

High, with tackling and scrums.
Minimal physical contact allowed.

Ball Handling

Use of hands and feet permitted.
Primarily feet, except for goalkeepers.

Scoring Method

Grounding the ball or kicking through goalposts.
Kicking the ball into a netted goal.

Ball Shape

Oval-shaped for varied handling.
Spherical, designed for kicking.

Team Composition

15 players with diverse roles.
11 players, including a goalkeeper.

Rugby and Soccer Definitions


Characterized by tackling and scrums
Rugby is known for its intense scrums.


Involves two teams of eleven players
A standard soccer team has eleven players.


Has variations like rugby sevens
She excels in rugby sevens.


Known as football outside North America
Soccer is commonly called football in Europe.


A contact team sport
He plays rugby at his high school.


A team sport played with a spherical ball
Soccer is popular worldwide.


Played with an oval ball
The rugby ball is distinctively oval.


Aims to score goals by kicking the ball into a net
He scored a goal in soccer.


Originated in England
Rugby has a rich history in England.


Prohibits the use of hands except by goalkeepers
In soccer, handling the ball is a foul.


A game played by two teams of 15 players each on a rectangular field 110 yards long with goal lines and goal posts at either end, the object being to run with an oval ball across the opponent's goal line or kick it through the upper portion of the goal posts, with forward passing and time-outs not permitted.


A game played on a rectangular field with net goals at either end in which two teams of 11 players each try to drive a ball into the other's goal by kicking, heading, or using any part of the body except the arms and hands. The goalie is the only player who may touch or move the ball with the arms or hands.


A form of football in which players can hold or kick an ovoid ball; rugby football. The ball cannot be handled forwards and points are scored by touching the ball to the ground in the area past the opponent's territory or by kicking the ball between goalposts and over a crossbar.
The scrum is a distinctive element of rugby.
The two rugbies split following a debate about amateurism.


Indoor soccer.


(specifically) The form of the game known as rugby union (see the usage note).


Association football.


(countable) rugby shirt


(Australian rules football) To kick the football directly off the ground, without using one's hands.


(Philippines) Rubber cement, contact cement.


A football game in which two teams of 11 players try to kick or head a ball into the opponents' goal


(intransitive) To play rugby.


A form of football played with an oval ball


What is rugby?

A contact sport played with an oval ball.

What is a scrum in rugby?

A method of restarting the game with a contest for the ball.

How many players are in a rugby team?

Fifteen in traditional rugby, seven in rugby sevens.

Is rugby played worldwide?

Yes, especially popular in countries like the UK, New Zealand, and South Africa.

What is a try in rugby?

A scoring method worth five points, achieved by grounding the ball.

How do you score in rugby?

By grounding the ball in the in-goal area or kicking it through goalposts.

What's the difference between rugby union and league?

They have different rules and number of players.

Can rugby players kick the ball?

Yes, kicking is a key part of the game.

Is rugby an Olympic sport?

Yes, particularly rugby sevens.

How many players are on a soccer team?

Eleven, including the goalkeeper.

What are the positions in soccer?

Goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

What is a penalty kick in soccer?

A free shot at goal, awarded for certain fouls in the penalty area.

How long is a rugby match?

Typically 80 minutes, divided into two halves.

How do you score in soccer?

By kicking the ball into the opponent's net.

What is offside in soccer?

A rule that restricts players' positioning on the field.

What is soccer?

A sport involving teams playing with a spherical ball to score goals.

Is soccer played globally?

Yes, it's one of the most popular sports worldwide.

Can soccer players use their hands?

Only the goalkeeper within their own penalty area.

Is soccer in the Olympics?

Yes, soccer is an Olympic sport.

How long is a soccer match?

Usually 90 minutes, split into two halves.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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