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Ahh, rugby… football’s older brother from across the pond has come to Westchester, and like virtually any older brother, it claims to be tougher and hit harder. Welcome to the White Plains Wombats XIII rugby club, which has just wrapped its first regular season of competition. As part of the USA Rugby League, the Wombats compete against teams from up and down the East Coast and are currently contending for a playoff spot.

Rugby and football have a lot in common, though there are differences. Instead of a touchdown, a score in rugby is called a try, which is worth five points. After a successful try, the scoring team has the opportunity to convert two extra points by kicking the ball through the uprights. Both sports produce fans that are hardcore to the bone (even if that bone is broken), but there’s plenty of room for casual fans, too.

The debate about whether football or rugby is the tougher sport has raged for decades. On one hand, rugby players are virtually entirely without protective gear, and they’re on the field basically all game long (which has two 40-minute periods and fewer opportunities to rest). By contrast, American football players use state-of-the-art protective equipment  and have discrete offensive and defensive squads, which allows for more rest. But because football players—who are typically larger, faster, and stronger—sprint directly at each other with that equipment, their collisions impose greater impact and, according to many experts, do more damage. What’s settled, though, is that each can be a straight-up blood sport.

So, if you’re looking for some smash-mouth, bone-jarring action in which you can actually see the player’s faces, or maybe just want a new home team to cheer for, the Wombats kick-off their playoff bid in August, with Saturday home games at SUNY Purchase. 

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