Wednesday, January 31, 2024

International Rugby Players Within the NFL


Damond Talbot

January 30, 2024

The sports world buzzed with excitement at the news of Louis Rees-Zammit, the Welsh rugby phenomenon, making the audacious switch to the NFL. This transition shines a spotlight on the intriguing journey from rugby to football, a path less traveled, but rich with success stories. As Rees-Zammit prepares to don the pads and helmet, we delve into the legacy of rugby players who have carved out careers in the NFL, setting the stage for this latest crossover.

Notable Rugby-to-NFL Success Stories

Christian Scotland-Williamson

A former rugby union player who played for Worcester Warriors in England, Scotland-Williamson switched to football, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 as a tight end through the International Player Pathway Program. He’s an English talent that will be sorely missed in England’s match against Scotlandin the upcoming Six Nations tournament.


Nate Ebner

Formerly an Olympic rugby sevens player for the United States, Ebner made his mark with the New England Patriots, showcasing his special teams prowess and contributing to multiple Super Bowl victories. Ebner’s successful transition is a testament to the complementary skills between all codes of rugby and NFL play.

Christian Wade

The English rugby union standout made headlines with his switch to the Buffalo Bills. Despite facing steep learning curves, Wade’s explosive speed and agility have made him a player to watch, demonstrating the potential for rugby talents in the NFL.

Jarryd Hayne

The Australian rugby league star’s stint with the San Francisco 49ers was met with great anticipation. Hayne’s versatility and athleticism allowed him to make an impact, albeit in a brief NFL career, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of such a transition.

Alex Gray

A former England rugby union sevens player and captain, Gray transitioned to American football, signing with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 as a tight end through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. He spent multiple seasons on the Falcons’ practice squad.


Louis Rees-Zammit’s move to the NFL is more than just a career change; it’s a continuation of the intriguing narrative of rugby players making their mark in football. As he joins the ranks of those who have ventured before him, Rees-Zammit carries the torch for the next generation of athletes looking to make a similar leap. His journey underscores the growing interconnectedness of global sports, promising exciting developments for fans and future players alike.


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