#MondayHIGH5: 5 things rugby can learn from the NFL

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Sunday night the New England Patriots were crowned World Champions after beating the Seattle Seahawks at SuperBowl 49 – one of the sporting world’s most watched sporting events. The showpiece usually attracts over 100 million viewers annually and is an apt climax to what is without a doubt one of the most well organized, well branded sporting leagues in the world.

NFL Ball, timer

And rugby can learn a lot from it.

In this #MondayHIGH5 we’ll be taking a closer look at five things rugby can learn from the NFL (in no particular order):

5) The NFL Draft

The draft has to be one of my favourite features of the NFL. It’s relatively complicated but at its most fundamental it’s a player recruitment initiative where each team gets the opportunity to fill its roster with fresh college football talent.

Each team is allocated a number (you can read more about it here), but what’s great here is that the last placed team in the league gets to pick first and therefore has the opportunity to pick the brightest young star.

Wouldn’t it be great if, say, the Pumas were able to secure the services of the brightest star in the Varsity Cup? It would make their team that much stronger and more interesting for Currie Cup 2015.

This would obviously require massive amounts of budget however.

4) Investment in advertising

Like all things American – the teams in the NFL are all too good at marketing themselves. Check this video that the Patriots put together outlining their journey to the SuperBowl. It’s a great piece.

While something like the draft would require massive infrastructure and investment, a team that sees value in advertising could quite easily fill our stadiums by doing something similar.

3) A team of refs

The average NFL game has 7 officials patrolling the pitch!

Each game features a Referee, Umpire, Head linesman, Line judge, Back judge, Side judge, and Field judge. I’m not going to get into too much detail about their roles and responsibilities but, as you can imagine, this leaves a lot less room for error with refs often convening on the field to discuss transgressions and scores.

Considering that the average NFL game only features about 12 minutes of actual play this approach might prove tricky for our rugby matches, where our lone referees often have too great an impact.

2) A functional review system

This another one of my favourite features of the game of football. Each team is allowed 2 “coach’s challenges” per game whereby a coach can challenge the decision by the on field referee.

NFL is a game of inches so often challenges are called on seemingly insignificant moments. In rugby, however, coaches and teams could receive massive benefit from challenging some of those diabolical field calls.

And we’ve all seen those haven’t we? Here’s looking at you Bryce Lawrence.

1) The pro bowl game

The pro bowl is a massively entertaining all-star game featuring the best players (besides those involved in the SuperBowl) in the league.

The event usually takes place in the week between the playoffs and the SuperBowl and features players chosen by coaches, players and fans – what a great opportunity for fan engagement!

So there you go- five things rugby can learn from NFL. Have we left anything off? Hit us with a comment or tweet us @leftbacks.

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