ARGUMENTS about the respective merits of rugby and football have raged for as long as the games have been played. And sometimes those doing the arguing have merely highlighted their ignorance of – possibly even prejudice against – one sport or the other.

Rory Darge, however, speaks from a position of strength when it comes to assessing the two. As a Glasgow Warriors forward, he knows what it is like to play rugby professionally. And, as the older brother of rising Heart of Midlothian star Arron Darge, he is conversant with the demands of professional football. Perhaps unsurprisingly given that knowledge of both sports, Darge offers a balanced judgment of the merits and weaknesses of them.

There are only two professional rugby teams in Scotland – the Warriors and Darge’s old club Edinburgh – and that has led to criticism that it can be too easy for the best players to keep being offered new contracts.

The 22-year-old openside does not go quite that far, but he does think that there is less competition in depth in rugby. And, just to balance things up, he believes that in another sense the demands on rugby players are greater.

“Football in Scotland is definitely more cut-throat than rugby,” he said yesterday at the launch of the United Rugby Championship season. “I’ve seen both sides of it and it’s pretty brutal out there.

“A lot more boys in Scotland grow up wanting to be football players than rugby players. But the training sessions don’t look as tough as ours: they don’t work as hard!”

Darge is set to resume playing in two weeks after getting a break following Scotland’s summer tour, where he played in all three Tests against Argentina. He had hoped to watch his 19-year-old brother get off the bench for Hearts against St Johnstone two weeks ago, but an injury while playing for the Tynecastle club’s B team in the Lowland League meant Arron had to drop out of the squad.

“He sent a message to me and my dad that he was on the bench,” the Warriors player said. “But he had played for the B team and had picked up a little niggle and sent another message an hour later saying he had been pulled for injury.

“I was trying to get tickets to go and watch and hopefully see him get off the bench. Even if he didn’t it would have been great to go and watch a game at Tynecastle – it’s never a bad way to spend your time.”

There is a third brother, 14-year-old Harris, who plays rugby and hockey, and Rory is sure that Arron also has the versatility that would have enabled him to succeed at two sports as well.

In his own case, however, he is sure there was never any chance of his making it as a footballer.

“He could have gone down the rugby route,” he said of Arron. “He played a bit as a back, with his feet and skill – a lot different to me.

“There was zero chance of me going down the football route. My football career lasted one training session. And I didn’t do much that was any good in that.”

He does a few things in rugby that are quite good, however, and his impressive form last season was rewarded with a Scotland debut against Wales in the Six Nations Championship.

Six other Test caps have followed, and a place in next year’s Rugby World Cup squad looks assured.

Right now, however, he is doing his best to remain patient while his rest period continues, secure in the belief that he will feel the benefit of the break towards the end of what is set to be another lengthy and demanding season.

“Hopefully I play well enough for Glasgow this year to be picked to go to the World Cup – that is the aspiration,” he said. “If everything goes well I’ll have a fairly long season and I don’t think I’ll finish until late summer at least.

“We came back on August 22 and this is the start of week three. It’s probably a bit soon to play next weekend, but one or two more weeks and I will feel maybe ready to go I think.”