Are NFL Players Faster Than Rugby Players?

When it comes to comparing the speed of NFL players to that of rugby players, it’s not a straightforward answer. Both sports require a high level of speed, agility, and endurance from their players, but the type of athleticism required differs between the two.

Speed in the NFL

In American football, speed is a critical component for various positions on the field. Wide receivers, running backs, and cornerbacks require exceptional speed to outrun defenders and make plays. One of the most common ways to measure speed in the NFL is by timing players in the 40-yard dash. According to data from the NFL Scouting Combine, the average 40-yard dash time for NFL players is 4.48 seconds.

However, it’s essential to note that not all NFL players need to be exceptionally fast. Positions such as offensive and defensive linemen do not require as much speed as skill and strength. Therefore, it’s more accurate to say that some NFL players are faster than others, depending on their position and role on the field.

Speed in Rugby

In rugby, speed is also essential, but it’s not the most critical component. Rugby players require a range of skills such as strength, endurance, agility, and good ball-handling skills. The positions that require the most speed in rugby are the wingers and full-backs, whose primary role is to run down the sideline and score tries. The average speed of a rugby player varies depending on their position and the level they are playing at, but top-level wingers can reach speeds of up to 22 miles per hour.

Comparing NFL and Rugby Players’ Speed

When comparing the speed of NFL players to rugby players, it’s challenging to make a direct comparison. The two sports have different requirements and different ways of measuring speed. However, we can compare some of the fastest players in both sports to get an idea.

The fastest recorded 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine is held by John Ross, who ran it in 4.22 seconds. In comparison, the fastest recorded 100-meter time by a rugby player is held by Carlin Isles, who ran it in 10.13 seconds. It’s essential to note that these records cannot be directly compared due to the differences in distance, track surface, and measurement methods.

According to NFL Combine statistics, the average 40-yard dash time for a wide receiver is around 4.48 seconds. This is significantly faster than the average 40-yard dash time for rugby players, which is around 5.2 seconds. However, it’s important to note that rugby players are not necessarily trained to run a 40-yard dash, so this comparison may not be entirely fair.

Despite the advantages that NFL players may have when it comes to speed, rugby players are still highly athletic and can be incredibly fast on the field. Rugby positions that require speed and agility, such as wingers and fullbacks, can run at speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h) during a game. In comparison, the fastest NFL player on record, Ted Ginn Jr., reached a top speed of 22.44 mph (36 km/h) during a game in 2015.

However, the fact remains that rugby players can be just as fast as NFL players, if not faster, in some cases. While speed is an essential component of both sports, rugby players must also possess a range of other skills to be successful on the field.


It’s challenging to compare the speed of NFL players to that of rugby players as the two sports require different types of athleticism. While the average speed of an NFL player may be higher, some rugby players can reach similar speeds. Ultimately, speed is just one component of what makes a successful player in both sports, and the skills required to excel differ between them.

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