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Which "Football" code is the toughest, most skilled or simply the best?


Smithydog
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Different sports in the world are referred to as “Football”. Put aside for the time being the argument as to what constitutes “football”. Which of the major codes played across the Globe do you think is the toughest, the fastest, the most skilled or simply the best in your opinion and why?

According to Wikipedia, these are the major codes played. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Football_codes

American Football (Gridiron or NFL)

Association Football (Soccer)

Australian Rules Football (AFL or Aussie Rules)

Gaelic Football

Rugby League (NRL)

Rugby Union

To me personally, whilst I grew up playing Rugby Union, was an avid supporter of Soccer, am a diehard Queensland supporter in the Rugby League, and love the strategy of the NFL, Aussie Rules (AFL) ticks the most boxes for me.

To be able to kick an oval shaped ball 50 metres or more, and pick out a player, often whilst on the full run, shows immense skill. To run and jump like a basketball player to catch the ball, often on top of the shoulders of an opponent shows both skill and bravery. To crash to the ground after taking a mark from on high or have an opposing player crash into you at full speed wearing no pads shows just how tough you have to be or simply how dumb you are!

What do you think? What is your view and why?

 

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Very interesting question and the criteria you mention (toughest, fastest, most skilled, best) certainly give all of the codes a shot in one or more category.

I think we’re going to butt heads here though Smithydog regarding AFL. A fast game yes (except when the ball isn’t bobbling around everywhere) but in the skill department, a distant 6th spot. The shape of the ball is not relevant in my opinion, in fact I’d go the other way and say it adds an element of chance to even the playing field. If you watch under 7s play all of the codes on that list, the AFL kids are the only ones that look like senior professionals at various points of the game. 

In 5th place, I’d put rugby union, but I’ll save that for another post because I’ve stirred the pot enough here 😎

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9 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

American Football, as played in the NFL; no question. 

Except when it comes to “fastest”. 

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4 minutes ago, BigHewer said:

Except when it comes to “fastest”. 

Depends on your view.  Wide Receivers are often Olympic standard runners and often attend Olympic trials .  It is in the nature of the game to have pauses , however, defences often get gassed by the speed of the game, so it isn't that slow. 

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6 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

Depends on your view.  Wide Receivers are often Olympic standard runners and often attend Olympic trials .  It is in the nature of the game to have pauses , however, defences often get gassed by the speed of the game, so it isn't that slow. 

I think it’s like for like when you take the best athletes in each sport. Same goes for ball speed. That leaves us with passages of play in the game itself. And  I don’t see any excitement in a five minute meeting to decide what to do in a two-second passage of play.

Rugby League a bit too stop / start as well, but not as bad as NFL, which is unwatchable for me.

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Aussie Rules players wear Lycra shorts - enough said.

Rugby Union - a game for thugs played by gentlemen.

Rugby League - a game for gentlemen played by thugs. 

The best has gotta be the footy aka Rugby League. Nothing like watching a game while sucking on a tinny after a leisurely morning spent washing the Holden. Anything else is communism. 

 

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The only problem I have with NFL is simply how little of the time is actually played. The following article highlighted that.

https://www.profootballnetwork.com/how-long-is-a-football-game-breaking-down-the-time-between-the-first-and-last-whistle/

This is unlike other codes, especially soccer and AFL, where time is added on for stoppages. This allows sports watchers to see far more what they think is actual playing time.

But what is often neglected in NFL, as is also mentioned in the article, is what happens pre-snap of the ball. As the play is set and the opposition is responding, you are watching the real chess like strategy of the game. Just different ways of doing it for the avid supporter! 😀

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3 minutes ago, BigHewer said:

I think it’s like for like when you take the best athletes in each sport. Same goes for ball speed. That leaves us with passages of play in the game itself. And  I don’t see any excitement in a five minute meeting to decide what to do in a two-second passage of play.

Rugby League a bit too stop / start as well, but not as bad as NFL, which is unwatchable for me.

There in lies its fascination.  Its a chess game on turf and operating a strategy  in one fast set of moves is absorbing. Once you know the game intimately, you appreciate the various straggles and counters being fought out. It does take decades to learn that though.  Just like chess.  

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1 minute ago, Smithydog said:

The only problem I have with NFL is simply how little of the time is actually played. The following article highlighted that.

You miss the point.  The game is being 'played out' even when the ball is not in play, by coaches and players My friends and I, all NFL fanatics, debate the moves and strategies between plays, as well as refreshing our beers, 

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18 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

Depends on your view.  Wide Receivers are often Olympic standard runners and often attend Olympic trials .  It is in the nature of the game to have pauses , however, defences often get gassed by the speed of the game, so it isn't that slow. 

The impact velocity is certainly higher, and both Rugby League and Rugby Union have high impact as well, without the shoulder protection. Are lot of NFL play is your power to push rather than just tackle.

Fitness levels by type are different. Soccer players can cover 10kms in a game whilst AFL players can run up to 20kms. So aerobic fitness needs to be very sound. AFL players need to be able to cop hits whilst some would say, soccer players need to be able to feign injuries at will....ha ha!

I found this interesting article comparing 3 of the sports played in Australia.

https://www.theroar.com.au/2013/11/06/afl-nrl-or-a-league-which-has-the-better-atheletes/#:~:text=The endurance of an AFL,and then keeps on running.

As to the toughest. NFL and Rugby Union would be hands down the toughest in different ways. To me, NFL is shorter more intense in its hits, designed to hit once and make you stay down! Rugby Union is more sustained as the never ending pounding wears you down. Both can have severe impact but at least you get some relief in the NFL as offense swaps with defence. In Rugby Union it is just constant!

I equally shudder at the thought of a NFL Linebacker or a New Zealand All Black Player targeting my body.😖 

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1 minute ago, Smithydog said:

The impact velocity is certainly higher, and both Rugby League and Rugby Union have high impact as well, without the shoulder protection. Are lot of NFL play is your power to push rather than just tackle.

Fitness levels by type are different. Soccer players can cover 10kms in a game whilst AFL players can run up to 20kms. So aerobic fitness needs to be very sound. AFL players need to be able to cop hits whilst some would say, soccer players need to be able to feign injuries at will....ha ha!

I found this interesting article comparing 3 of the sports played in Australia.

https://www.theroar.com.au/2013/11/06/afl-nrl-or-a-league-which-has-the-better-atheletes/#:~:text=The endurance of an AFL,and then keeps on running.

As to the toughest. NFL and Rugby Union would be hands down the toughest in different ways. To me, NFL is shorter more intense in its hits, designed to hit once and make you stay down! Rugby Union is more sustained as the never ending pounding wears you down. Both can have severe impact but at least you get some relief in the NFL as offense swaps with defence. In Rugby Union it is just constant!

I equally shudder at the thought of a NFL Linebacker or a New Zealand All Black Player targeting my body.😖 

a most balanced view.  Agree with all of that. 

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12 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

You miss the point.  The game is being 'played out' even when the ball is not in play, by coaches and players My friends and I, all NFL fanatics, debate the moves and strategies between plays, as well as refreshing our beers, 

Acknowledged Pinetree. I just find all that ‘playing out’ very dull. I guess if I grew up with it, it’d be a different story.

I have been to games in Texas. The marching bands are always good. And I enjoyed the beer and banter. The actual games, not so much.

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26 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

There in lies its fascination.  Its a chess game on turf and operating a strategy  in one fast set of moves is absorbing. Once you know the game intimately, you appreciate the various straggles and counters being fought out. It does take decades to learn that though.  Just like chess.  

I will give you that. Even though I don’t know the rules, it seems to have a lot more strategy than a lot of other sports.

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1 hour ago, BigHewer said:

Very interesting question and the criteria you mention (toughest, fastest, most skilled, best) certainly give all of the codes a shot in one or more category.

I think we’re going to butt heads here though Smithydog regarding AFL. A fast game yes (except when the ball isn’t bobbling around everywhere) but in the skill department, a distant 6th spot. The shape of the ball is not relevant in my opinion, in fact I’d go the other way and say it adds an element of chance to even the playing field. If you watch under 7s play all of the codes on that list, the AFL kids are the only ones that look like senior professionals at various points of the game. 

In 5th place, I’d put rugby union, but I’ll save that for another post because I’ve stirred the pot enough here 😎

You do realise that in Rugby League and Rugby Union, the kids play a modified version of the games without the impact? The kids in Aussie Rules also play a modified version based on involvement and basic skills of kicking and handpassing, and a general environment of having fun. Serious skills are not taught until they are much older.

https://play.afl/auskick/parents

You obviously haven't tried to kick or catch an oval shaped ball. Compare doing it with a round ball when the ball is spinning end on end. Then try doing it with someone on your back and others around you trying to knock it away from you. Then sit back and kick it 50 plus metres or longer to land on a target. It is like a Quarterback in the NFL throwing the ball to a receiver except AFL players do it with their foot.😀

Or perhaps try and handball the ball to another player 30 metres away. Easy for a volleyball or soccer ball that is round, but not so easy with an oval shaped ball. Perhaps ask a neighbour if you can try jumping onto their shoulders whilst they are moving, and see if you can catch the ball and land safely.

Probably some members are unsure of what AFL is. So here is a video that explains it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMZYZcoAcU0

 

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Just now, BigHewer said:

Acknowledged Pinetree. I just find all that ‘playing out’ very dull. I guess if I grew up with it, it’d be a different story.

I have been to games in Texas. The marching bands are always good. And I enjoyed the beer and banter. The actual games, not so much.

I'm a Brit, so it took me many years to understand the full strategies of the game.  It also took the advent of the new TV cameras and the new angles, smart 60 inch TVs and a sound box to reach where it is as a viewing spectacle , and where  I am in my appreciation of what is going on.  I realise that as a spectacle, and even as a sport, it is not everyone's cup of tea, but I love it. 

One thing is for sure, it knocks spots off F1 and that so called sport could learn a lot from the NFL, not least, in how to apply its own rules.  Imagine in NFL, or soccer/AFL, or rugby, if the rules says that you only get penalised if you step out of bounds in just one or two places on the sideline, but its okay elsewhere? That's exactly what happens in F1. 

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3 minutes ago, Smithydog said:

You do realise that in Rugby League and Rugby Union, the kids play a modified version of the games without the impact? The kids in Aussie Rules also play a modified version based on involvement and basic skills of kicking and handpassing, and a general environment of having fun. Serious skills are not taught until they are much older.

A lot to unpack in your reply, so I’ll just focus on the first point. I will admit I know very little about rule modifications for junior versions of these sports. But I do think it’s a good thing to usher in the more advanced skills later. 

I played one season of AFL when I was 7. My parents were in Gove in the Northern Territory for a year, and it was the only junior sport in town. I don’t remember a whole lot. There were no positions, it was all fun in the mud. I enjoyed it.

The following year playing (association) football, I can still remember the “rules” which applied to me. A bit different.

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19 minutes ago, Pinetree said:

I'm a Brit, so it took me many years to understand the full strategies of the game.  It also took the advent of the new TV cameras and the new angles, smart 60 inch TVs and a sound box to reach where it is as a viewing spectacle , and where  I am in my appreciation of what is going on.  I realise that as a spectacle, and even as a sport, it is not everyone's cup of tea, but I love it. 

One thing is for sure, it knocks spots off F1 and that so called sport could learn a lot from the NFL, not least, in how to apply its own rules.  Imagine in NFL, or soccer/AFL, or rugby, if the rules says that you only get penalised if you step out of bounds in just one or two places on the sideline, but its okay elsewhere? That's exactly what happens in F1. 

We are in full agreement. NFL is more more interesting as a spectacle than F1.

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Toughest is Gaelic football. Its just organized violence where occasionally someone scores a goal. Usually by accident. (Shinty is worse. They just hit each other with sticks).

Fastest is Aussie Rules. Love that game.

Most skilled would be rugby union (although I get that NFL is a close second, union requires the captain and players to decide on the next "play" not a team of backroom staff. They also need to be able to change that "play" in a heartbeat depending what actually happens on the pitch).

Rugby union is also the best in my opinion but I will admit I watch pretty much ANY sport including elephant polo. 

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Rugby league for me fastest fittest toughest from kickoff to final whistle. In my younger day, I played at Amateur level but we had to be physically fit and be prepared to hit and be battered by an 18 stone 6ft plus forward bearing down on you hell-bent on knocking your head off. The only padding we had were shoulder pads. Most players in today's game might get a cut or head wound they won't roll around like Soccer players they will be stitched up on the side of the pitch and bandaged up and they carry on. A renown hard man was a Brit playing in the NFL In the Australian grand final a Brit called Sam Burgess had his cheekbone and eye socket fractured in the 1st ten minutes yet he carried on for the full 80 mins a very tough man. I can't understand why AFL players wear armchairs on there armsand the need of a Crash helmet lol maybe they should go for a full bikers racing leathers. 

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12 minutes ago, Rookiescot said:

Toughest is Gaelic football. Its just organized violence where occasionally someone scores a goal. Usually by accident. (Shinty is worse. They just hit each other with sticks).

Fastest is Aussie Rules. Love that game.

Most skilled would be rugby union (although I get that NFL is a close second, union requires the captain and players to decide on the next "play" not a team of backroom staff. They also need to be able to change that "play" in a heartbeat depending what actually happens on the pitch).

Rugby union is also the best in my opinion but I will admit I watch pretty much ANY sport including elephant polo. 

I was forced to play Shinty at one school and it was madness. The ‘bully off’ was simply an all out attempt to smash your opponents shins into splinters. (Oh and I think there was a ball involved somewhere but you always aimed over it to reach the shinbone!) When the team sheets came out you would immediately look for who you wanted to maim the most!

‘Soccer’ - I refuse to engage in any sporting conversation with anyone who uses that word. It is an abomination. It is FOOTBALL. 

 NFL - dear god the very definition of boring but not in the same league as basketball for sleep inducing banality. 

Bizarrely I did get a little hooked on some Indian game they used to show on channel 4 (U.K.) where they had to hold their breath and not be tagged by the opposition before they got to the other end. If they ran out of breath they had to retreat back to their own end. Can’t remember the name but had to watch it. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Benroon said:

I was forced to play Shinty at one school and it was madness. The ‘bully off’ was simply an all out attempt to smash your opponents shins into splinters. (Oh and I think there was a ball involved somewhere but you always aimed over it to reach the shinbone!) When the team sheets came out you would immediately look for who you wanted to maim the most!

‘Soccer’ - I refuse to engage in any sporting conversation with anyone who uses that word. It is an abomination. It is FOOTBALL. 

 NFL - dear god the very definition of boring but not in the same league as basketball for sleep inducing banality. 

Bizarrely I did get a little hooked on some Indian game they used to show on channel 4 (U.K.) where they had to hold their breath and not be tagged by the opposition before they got to the other end. If they ran out of breath they had to retreat back to their own end. Can’t remember the name but had to watch it. 

Kabaddi. 

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5 minutes ago, vlad said:

Rugby league for me fastest fittest toughest from kickoff to final whistle. In my younger day, I played at Amateur level but we had to be physically fit and be prepared to hit and be battered by an 18 stone 6ft plus forward bearing down on you hell-bent on knocking your head off. The only padding we had were shoulder pads. Most players in today's game might get a cut or head wound they won't roll around like Soccer players they will be stitched up on the side of the pitch and bandaged up and they carry on. A renown hard man was a Brit playing in the NFL In the Australian grand final a Brit called Sam Burgess had his cheekbone and eye socket fractured in the 1st ten minutes yet he carried on for the full 80 mins a very tough man. I can't understand why AFL players wear armchairs on there armsand the need of a Crash helmet lol maybe they should go for a full bikers racing leathers. 

I had my cheekbone smashed and my nose pushed over an inch across my face by a cricket ball once - eye closed up within 10 seconds and needed 4 operations to fix it all up. Smarted a bit. 

Did I go off the pitch ? Did I bollox just gurgled a bit on the blood cascading down the back of my throat, threw a bit of sand on the blood on the pitch and got on with it, as we were losing the light and it was an important game. Though the medical coach looked a bit queasy when she was looking at it! 

It’s a very odd sensation looking down your own face and there’s a big space where your nose used to be! 😁

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Just now, Rookiescot said:

Kabaddi. 

That’s it !!! 

Bizarre game but held my attention. Not seen it for years 

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34 minutes ago, Benroon said:

I was forced to play Shinty at one school and it was madness. The ‘bully off’ was simply an all out attempt to smash your opponents shins into splinters. (Oh and I think there was a ball involved somewhere but you always aimed over it to reach the shinbone!) When the team sheets came out you would immediately look for who you wanted to maim the most!

‘Soccer’ - I refuse to engage in any sporting conversation with anyone who uses that word. It is an abomination. It is FOOTBALL. 

 NFL - dear god the very definition of boring but not in the same league as basketball for sleep inducing banality. 

Bizarrely I did get a little hooked on some Indian game they used to show on channel 4 (U.K.) where they had to hold their breath and not be tagged by the opposition before they got to the other end. If they ran out of breath they had to retreat back to their own end. Can’t remember the name but had to watch it. 

Tried to us the term "Association Football" based on the concept of the Football Association to try and create a difference. Dad and I always used to call it Football even with the other codes, as he was a Brit and hated the term "Soccer" as well. 😁

It seemed to gain in use in Australia as the "Soccer Pools" were introduced. In those day you picked the scored draws for the forthcoming round etc not just the numbers like it turned into later. More fun to play in those days and Dad and I would often spend quality time deciding on the family selections for the week!

Use whatever term you prefer and we will work it out! 👍

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