Athletes follow their role models. and it’s an unfortunate state of football that coaches are constantly trying to get their players to emulate what they see their heroes do in the game, but not what they do on the sidelines,
Rugby is a little different. Complaining to the referee, excessive celebration after scoring, and playing to the crowd may be discouraged in both sports, but in rugby it’s simply not part of the game at any level.
“From a culture standpoint, rugby can improve the American high school football in more ways than a coach can count”, said Billups. “The mere fact that in rugby, you address the referee as “sir. Can you imagine that in American football? That there isn’t this “towel-whipping look-at-me behavior” we see kids emulating. Score a try, and leg it back to halfway to get ready to go again is the way it still is in our game. No touchdown dances or athletes taking off their helmets to show their mugs for the cameras.”
Rugby Helps Football
Can rugby make a good football player? Consider the story of Richard Tardits. He grew up playing rugby, then one day, as a student at the University of Georgia; he walked on to preseason football practice.
“He didn’t even know how to put his pads on”, said then head coach and now Georgia Athletic Director, Vince Dooley, “We put him in at tight end and asked him to fire out and block, and he fired out and tackled the guy. So we figured we better put him an defense pretty quick.”
As a linebacker who had never played gridiron before, Tardits learned quickly, and in one scrimmage sacked the quarterback five times. “I gave him a battlefield promotion right there.’ said Dooley. “ I gave him a scholarship. He had explosiveness.”
Upon graduation, Tardits had made all-conference as a linebacker, and had set a record for sacks at Georgia that still stands; He went on to play in the NFL for New England and Arizona.
After his NFL career was over, Tardits returned to rugby, playing for the United States 24 times.