I was able to quickly find the penalty stats for the National Hockey League. In the 2022-23 season, there were 24 cases of embellishment, which is a 2 minute penalty, giving the opposition a 2 minute power play, although usually if there is an embellishment penalty, there is a corresponding penalty for the other team, tripping, spearing, or some such.

For anyone unaware of what embellishment is, it might also be known as diving, or flopping and is the attempt to cause the opposition to get a penalty. A player might fall to the ice wildly gesticulating, attempting to get the opposition called for hooking or tripping. If the person who went down does it with too much .... drama, let's say .... they might also get penalized for embellishment.

Watching Football (what we in the uncivilized US call soccer) I see many examples of diving. Watching Rugby, I almost never see it. I understand that in Rugby it would fall under "ungentlemanly conduct" so maybe there is no way to separate it from other acts which also fall under that?

What are the stats for a season (such as 2022-2023) for Football's English Premier League, if available?

What are the stats for a season of Rugby? (I don't know the various leagues well enough, perhaps an equivalent to Football's EPL?)

  • FWIW, the top level rugby league in England is Premiership Rugby, but you may also want to think about Top 14 in France and United Rugby Championship (Wales, Ireland, Scotland and slightly bizarrely South Africa) which are of similar or greater stature.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Apr 18 at 16:52
  • In football embellischment is sometimes called a "Schwalbe" (a German term). Commented Apr 19 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


There's an old saying that "football is a gentleman's game played by yobs, rugby [union] is a yob's game played by gentlemen". The root of this is essentially classist, in that rugby union was an amateur sport until 1995, so could only be played by relatively well paid people who could afford to take time off work for training and matches - i.e. the upper classes. Whether as a consequence of this or for other reasons, there has always been a much higher standard of respect for the referee in rugby union than there has in football, and while I don't have direct evidence for it, I'm pretty sure that sports with higher levels of respect for the referee are less likely to try to deceive the referee with diving/simulation.

Practically, another thing which makes a difference here is the immediate penalty available to referee in rugby - if you so much as utter a little "sigh" in response to a referee's decision against your team in rubgy, the penalty is immediately moved 10 metres closer to your goal line. That's very different from the situation in football where, if you shout at the referee enough, you might eventually get a yellow card for dissent - which has no immediate impact on your team.

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