Why doesn’t rugby have football style hooliganism?

There has been a number of posts as to why rugby is a better sport than football, and I could ramble on all day as to why this is the case, but there is more to this than what we see on the pitch on a Saturday. Violence surrounding the sport of football has always been compared to rugby, and I think I have the answer as to why the sports are so different.

For me, one of the best things about going to watch rugby is that there could be a premiership final between Tigers and Saints, but two rival fans can sit together and enjoy a beer while discussing the match with no issues because of who they support. So why isn’t this the case in football? December 2010, Aston Villa and Birmingham city fans clash, 14 arrested. October 2012, a Leeds united fan attacks the Sheffield United goal keeper during a game. April 2013, Millwall fans fought amongst themselves and 14 were arrested. But when you search ‘Rugby Hooliganism’ on google, the only thing that comes up is more articles about why violence in rugby is drastically less than football (off the pitch that is). When the question is initially asked about why there is a difference between violence in both games, a lot of people initially go for the ‘class’ argument, pointing the finger at the stereotypical working class football fan. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Look at our brothers in rugby league, Cities and towns such as Wigan, St Hellen’s and Hull are the types of cities may would regard as working class, but their respected rugby league teams don’t see the violence that football does. Rugby is different in one simple factor when it comes to the hooligan culture, and it’s as simple as the fact that the hooligans aren’t in the stands, they’re on the pitch. If an individual within rugby has an appetite for violence, they can more than satisfy their needs by playing the sport or even watching it. Even when you’re in a stadium surrounded by the loud hum or supporters, the echo of two 16st men colliding in a crunching tackle is enough to make you feel the man’s pain and you’re not even on the pitch with him. And that’s the difference between the two sports, footballs less violent nature means that men who seek violence are left seeking it elsewhere. This isn’t an issue that can be resolved within the style of play or with anything that will affect the way the game is played, football will never be as violent as rugby, so we are left looking for a way to resolve this issue elsewhere. As easy as it may be to say “we need to teach people to be less violent”, this is not the right way to address the problem, instead we need to teach people to control their aggression and channel it through other outlets.

So there it is, as long as footballers are being paid above the odds wages to dive and hit the floor at the slightest of touches, it seems that the best way to stop or at least ease the tensions within some football fans is to give them a large dose of rugby, 2 times a day. As they say, you’ve got to fight fire with fire, but controlled, 15 a side fire.

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