Rugby and Other Games Called Football


Worldwide, rugby seasons are starting in March. So, at The Colloquial, we’re publishing everything we know about rugby (not much). 

In the United States, “football” refers to American gridiron football. Pads, touchdown dances, grotesque racial politics, etc. You know all about it. In Canada, it refers to Canadian gridiron football. Pads, touchdown dances, goofy team names, etc. In the UK and various parts of Europe, it refers to soccer. Officially, it is Association Football. That’s where the name “soccer” comes from. 

Contrary to what the dude drinking a double IPA fermented with wild yeast from the brewer’s mustache will tell you, it’s not silly to call American football “football.” The name likely refers to the fact the game is played on foot, as opposed to sports such as polo, which are played on horseback. Alternately, the name refers to the fact the ball is kicked, an act which occurs in every type of football. Everywhere in the world, these games originated largely independently. One group of people would have a wooden ball, a sheep’s stomach, a bundle of sticks, anything. Another group would come and try to take it. Simple enough. That’s the root of all kinds of football, and there are all kinds of football. 


Rugby football originated in Rugby, England maybe around 1823 when William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it. At The Colloquial, we’re celebrating the return of rugby worldwide for the entire month of March. So, I won’t bore you with the details of rugby all over again. 

You can bore yourself with our previous rugby articles. 

Everything You Need to Know About Rugby

America Broke Up With Rugby. We Need That Old Thang Back. 

Teddy Roosevelt Nearly Killed American Rugby

Gaelic Football

Gaels are the natives of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. This is their football, and it’s amazing. Specifically, the name refers to the Irish version of the game. It’s like a combination of soccer, rugby, and American football. There are fifteen players per team, and they don’t wear pads (they love little shorts on that side of the world). Players advance a ball, something like a volleyball, by running with it. Every few steps they have to dribble it or dropkick it back up to themselves. They’re surprisingly good at this. They can manage it without breaking stride. I tried it once and nearly managed to break an ankle. 

Players score one point by kicking or striking with their hand the ball through the uprights. There’s no throwing; every pass is like a volleyball strike. Players score three points by kicking the ball into a soccer goal defended by a goalkeeper. 

You can watch Gaelic football for free on The site defaults to the Irish language. You can find English on the top right or, you know, you could just learn to speak Irish. 

Australian Rules Football

Aussie Rules football looks like a free-for-all to the untrained eye. The ball is bright red, and the field is football shaped. Players run with a spherical ball, they pass it to each other by striking it or kicking it. It looks a lot like Gaelic football to the extent that crossover matches frequently occur.

There are 18 players per team in Aussie Rules football. The goal consists of four uprights with no crossbar. Players score six points by kicking the ball through the two center goalposts. Players score one point by hand-striking the ball through the center goalposts or by getting it between the outside goalposts by any means (kicking or hand-striking). 

Americans can watch Australian Rules Football on Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 1 (occasionally), and Fox Soccer Plus. 

There are several variations of all of them. Different variations might modify tackling, change the number of players on a team, or adapt the rules for their landscape. Gridiron football, Association football, and these three are the main types of football around the world.