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How the best rugby players would fare in the NFL

Sport fans will be increasingly familiar with the worldwide interest of the National Football League (NFL).

The league is the most valuable sporting competition in the world due to its immense star power and world-famous franchises.

The NFL attracts tens of thousands of fans to sell-out major sporting venues every weekend from a variety of sporting markets across the United States.

The 32 teams, spanning the entire nation, all have their own unique history as well as a roster that is comprised of several marquee talents that compete at the highest level for a chance to lead their squad to potential postseason contention.

Only the league’s very best teams will earn a spot in the NFL playoffs, culminating in the final two sides from each rivalling conference facing off in the Super Bowl in front of a global audience.

The NFL, and American football as a whole, is widely regarded as the US’ most distinguished sport but it still draws similar comparisons to another popular sport – rugby.

Many stars from both sports have taken the bold transition across codes, leaving some fans to question whether rugby stars could compete in the NFL.

What are the different demands required for each sport?

A study conducted by showcased how the best rugby players would fare in the NFL, with mixed results regarding their physical build and attributes required for each level.

The average rugby player is much smaller than a vast amount of NFL stars, yet they are often much leaner and fitter across longer periods of time given the lack of stoppages that are much more apparent in every NFL game.

NFL players are also more muscular and bulkier, having a build that is much more dependent on their position on the gridiron compared to rugby players with most players often adopting the same build.

There is much more movement in rugby games than NFL games, meaning that cardio is a key component for any prospective athlete in this sport.

Meanwhile the NFL predominantly focuses around a player’s body movement and technique, which is especially true for any aspiring wide receivers, tight ends, safeties or cornerbacks who are relied upon to catch the ball or disrupt a play.

How would some of the top rugby stars fair in the NFL?

There are many established rugby stars who could certainly try their hand at the NFL or any level of professional football.

The likes of Bath Rugby and England superstar wing Joe Cokanasiga could certainly make for a viable running back, he has great pace and can muscle through contact with ease.

Some of the taller and bulkier rugby union players could also make for great additions to an NFL offensive line as they could attempt to block opposing rushing defenders and protect their QB.

This could be particularly key to a team that may prioritize a running game as they can open gaps in the defense that the RB can exploit as well as proving to be highly effective on a QB sneak play that mimics a scrum in rugby.

The fabled Tush Push helped the Philadelphia Eagles to great postseason success last campaign is a classic example.

Some rugby players could also make great linebacker options as they will be already familiar with tackling opposing players and moving to different parts of the field in a quick manner.

Some greats at LB have often been much smaller in size compared to other NFL positions, such as the legendary Ray Lewis.

There are also plenty of NFL players who have a background in professional rugby which ranges from a variety of positions.

These include former kicker Gary Anderson, who played professionally in South Africa before suiting up on special teams.

Stewart Bradley, who played rugby whilst at high school before becoming a linebacker with the Eagles, Cardinals and Browns.

Finally former Vikings O-lineman David Dixon who has a background in rugby while playing in New Zealand.

Featured image by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

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