So you want to play in the NFL?

FX Gatto Roar Rookie

By FX Gatto, FX Gatto is a Roar Rookie

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    Sometimes, when I’m having a beer in a pub after a rugby game, people who’ve heard that I spent a number of years in the States ask me the same question: do I think ‘so and so’ would make it in the National Football League?

    I give them the same answer – probably not. If they want to know why not, I expand on my reply (as long as they’re buying).

    Firstly, the competition for places is incredibly fierce. There are 32 teams in the NFL each carrying 53 players on their active roster plus a further eight who make up the practice squad. So that’s 61 pros per team, which works out to a total of 1,952 players employed by NFL clubs.

    Just about all of these players come from college football programs. A few make a team as a walk-on – people who played only in high school turn up for a try out and are accepted – although this is pretty rare.

    There are hundreds of college football teams in the US, from famous powerhouses like Michigan, Ohio and Notre Dame to tiny institutions like Shanandoah and Carroll. Factoring in all the big and small colleges, the average number of players per team works out to around 40, making a total of 80,000 or so college players.

    Not all of them want a career in the NFL – for one thing most of them know they’re too small, too slow or too clumsy to make it, plus many of them can earn a lot more money in the professions – medicine, law, finance, IT etc – without having to put their bodies on the line every Sunday.

    But the vast majority would be thrilled to be on national TV and become a name in America’s favourite sport. For one thing, the average NFL salary works out to $800,000 per year, which is a lot more than they could earn as a bean counter at Ernst & Young or assistant manager at their local Safeway.

    However, if they do make a team, and after a couple of seasons prove to be a game-changer on offence or defence, their agent can get them something like $25 million over five years. And if they become a genuine, magazine-cover star, they can really rake in the big bucks – the Colts’ Peyton Manning earned something north of $42 million last year in salary, bonuses and endorsements.

    But in order to become a well-paid football pro there’s still that hump to overcome, the colossal competition, and that begins at high school level.

    There are about 98,000 high schools in America, and just about all of them have some kind of football program. At some, football is the be all and end all of existence.

    For example, Lassiter High in Marietta, Georgia, has a huge, 3 million-dollar Jumbotron. And there are similar set ups in Texas high schools where Friday night football is by far the biggest and most important event of the week.

    Nationwide, these schools average about 27 members per team, so we’re talking about well over two and a half million high school players. Some of these players attract the attention of college scouts by scoring multi touchdowns, running jawdropping times at track meets, or both. There’s currently a 17-year-old high school kid who’s run a 10.2. The scouts are all over him.

    There’s no question you have to be super talented to get an NFL contract. And don’t think for a moment that those huge guys on the line with the bulging buttocks and Budweiser tummies can’t move.

    One of the Dolphins’ tackles, Paul Soliai, who tips the scales at a svelte 160 kgs, can backpedal on defence in nothing flat, and the Ravens’ Bryant McKinnie, who’s two inches taller than Nathan Sharpe and 50 kgs heavier, can hard-charge across the line an instant after the snap.

    As for the guys now playing major rugby who’d make it in the NFL, I can only think of one with a real shot, and that’s Sonny Bill Williams. He’s tall enough and fast enough to make a good tight end, leaping high in the flat to haul down a pass. And he’s big enough to handle the other tight end chore, which is blocking a player zeroing in on his quarterback.

    JP Pietersen is another who might qualify for a try out, along with George North and Alex Cuthbert, but all three would need to bulk up. Bryan Habana has the required jinks and is probably fast enough to be a punt or kickoff returner.

    Ma’a Nonu, who has excellent acceleration and smart lateral moves, would go close as a halfback. Manu Tuilagi could try out for the same spot. Scott Higginbotham has the size to be a fullback and has good top speed but probably not the explosive start he’d need from the snap.

    Pierre Spies is big enough and fast enough to try out at outside linebacker. David Pocock and Wycliff Palu could think about the middle linebacker position but they’d both have to hit a lot harder. Fulgence Ouedraogo, the French flanker, is quick enough and tall enough to defend on short passing plays out wide.

    But there’s nobody now playing international rugby who’s fast enough to play defence against any of the NFL wideout pass receivers.

    Looking backwards, a young Rupeni Caucaunibuca would certainly have starred as a tackle-busting tailback. Once into the secondary he’d be gone. Doug Howlett might have been a possibility as a pass receiver on a quick slant as would Jeff Wilson who had a wonderful stride.

    David Campese, with his great broken-field running, might have made it a kick returner and Ron Jarden, with his breathtaking acceleration, would have been a game-winning scatback and receiver on short passing plays.

    But the guy who would have been a superstar is Jonah Lomu. There are plenty of men his height now playing, but nobody his height has the speed Jonah could turn on, nor the power of his charge toward the line. I believe the scouts wanted him to try out but Jonah didn’t want to leave home.

    Something close to a dozen Aussies punters have made the NFL, all but one of them coming from the AFL. And I believe interest was shown in several rugby place kickers like Johnny Wilkinson, Paul Thornburn, Morne Steyn and Frans Steyn.

    But it’s not enough to get the ball over the crossbar from 52 yards out. You also have to get the ball up in a hurry to get over the leaping linemen trying the block the kick, and this is a tough trick to master.

    So there it is – my take on who would and wouldn’t have a shot at playing in the NFL. I’m sure Roarers have some other names to suggest. Let’s hear them.

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    The Crowd Says (181)

    • December 14th 2012 @ 6:58am
      mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      the point should be how many NFL players would make it in rugby.

      none would have the aerobic fitness. you don’t get a rest every 3 seconds and you can’t just go off the field and not have to tackle if you lose possession and vice versa.

      and they wouldn’t be tough enough having worn enough padding to not feel the hit from a rhino!

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2012 @ 7:19am
        B-Rock said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:19am | ! Report

        Good point Mark

        I think the article is more about natural talent/athleticsm rather than a direct cross code switch mid-career. The games are incredibly different so the players adapt to their structure. Aerobic fitness is something that can be worked on though – the same argument can be used for AFL and RL vs rugby as rugby has far more stoppages and requires less aerobic fitness than AFL and RL.

        Given the athleticism of NFL players I would wager that plenty of them would make it in RU given enough time to adapt to the game.

        The padding does look ridiculous but given the magnitude of the hits they have to take, its understandable. Keeps the players on the field and out of hospital/physio

        • December 14th 2012 @ 7:42am
          mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:42am | ! Report

          the canberra raiders bought some US college players in the 90’s. they were gun shy when it came to the ferocity of playing without pads.

          i think if ant of em played one game of rugby they’d bottle it. those pads make it pretty easy to play body contact and if they played a real game like rugby they’d not know hat hit them.

          • December 14th 2012 @ 9:14am
            Kane said | December 14th 2012 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            When I was younger we traveled to the Gold Coast for a rugby tournament (we were based in Invercargill) and we bumped in to some American Football players from some of the top College teams in America and they asked us if we played soccer, we laughed and said we play rugby. These guys were in shock, they were taken back and they kept bringing up how mad we are not wearing pads or helmets.

            • December 14th 2012 @ 10:17am
              mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

              hey kane – i went to a couple of those gridiron tournaments on the goldcoatst, downunder bowl. after one game we invited the oppn back to our rooms for a party. they told us that technique wise we were pretty average (and they gave us loads of tips) but they did say that they’d never been hit so hard so often in a single game.
              we told them we were rugby players and we didnt need pads and helmets to tackle. they were amazed and we felt better about the massive hiding they’d given us on the score board.

              • Roar Guru

                December 17th 2012 @ 4:56pm
                Kane said | December 17th 2012 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                I have to give it to the Gold Coast they know how to throw a tournament we played a Tackle Tens tournament then a few days later backed up for the Gold Coast Rugby Carnival, teams from England Ireland Singapore Fiji South Africa Australia and New Zealand. The 2nd time we attended the carnival we were fortunate to meet Paddy O’Brien and Rod Macqueen as we were the first team to trial the new ELV’s back in 2007

      • December 14th 2012 @ 7:48am
        eagleJack said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:48am | ! Report

        Of the 1,952 players employed by the NFL I’d say atleast 200 could make it in rugby. Some of these guys are true athletes who could easily make the switch (over time of course). To say that “none would have the aerobic fitness” is very ill-informed.

        And with the introduction of rugby at the Olympics we could very well start to see some of these guys (certainly college footballers) cross over with the lure of an Olympic gold very appealing. It’s just a matter of how serious the US 7s program is. Because potentially they could be unbeatable. And from 7s they could move into 15s. The US is certainly the sleeping giant of world rugby.

        • December 14th 2012 @ 9:03am
          Red Kev said | December 14th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

          I don’t buy the fitness angle but the body armour issue is massively telling. Ask any yank and they all think rugby (league or union) players are crazy for slamming into each other without pads on.
          There are two massive telling points regarding the use of body armour in NFL stopping those guys making it in rugby, one is tackle technique, the other is just the mental confidence of playing in pads. Neither is insurmountable but if you start as 200 odd athletes who would be good enough to change code from NFL to rugby, I’d say at least half if not three-quarters of them wouldn’t be able to adapt mentally and physically to contact play without being encased in body armour.

          Very interesting article nevertheless, especially numbers wise – I would wager fewer than 20% of Australian schools and universities have a rugby union team.

          • December 14th 2012 @ 11:18am
            JIM said | December 14th 2012 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            I agree on the fitness front. It would only take 1 pre season and any of the NFL players could drop a few kilos and build sufficient stamina to play rugby.

            I agree the confidence would be huge. Before you even get into basic tackling skills, which most league and union players have been working on since they were 10. They would also have no ball skills, kicking skills and a complete lack of understanding of how the game works.

            Agree that with really good coaching and a couple of years of work, many could make it at Super level. But I think that many Rugby players could play NFL, if they got good coaching and 2 years of prep-time as well. The specific training used, especially by the NFL teams, help generate the size, power and explosiveness that you see on the park. Those guys aren’t born with it, they work on it. Rugby doesn’t need those attributes so our guys dont work that way. Yes I think our teams could learn more about injury prevention, and using functional weights rather than structural, but that is a secondary issue.

            • December 14th 2012 @ 12:14pm
              Bakkies said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

              You would need some of them to drop 40 to 50 kg if they were playing in the forwards. 60 plus to play in the backs. 160 kg is far too unhealthy for a Rugby player that has to play 80 minutes with only a ten minute rest for half time. Too me that is the real fitness issue plus they will have to multi skill rather then being specialists.

            • Roar Guru

              December 15th 2012 @ 2:00pm
              Andy_Roo said | December 15th 2012 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              For NFL players to be fit enough to play rugby would be like watching an endless series of the biggest loser.

      • December 14th 2012 @ 12:09pm
        Bakkies said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        They would also have to tackle correctly without diving at the knees.

      • December 16th 2012 @ 7:49pm
        Hightackle said | December 16th 2012 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

        This is a dumb article.
        I thought the AFL vs league argument was silly but this one is even more silly.
        Lets not pretend that NFL is a far harder sport or that rugby is. There are top athletes in both but the attributes needed by most are different. Some guys that dont even make an ITM cup team could make a NFL team and also a player not capable of making an NFL team could be an AB becuz the games are different.
        There are old retired AFL players making millions in the NFL and all they do is kick.
        I dont like NFL, its too stop start for me and the positions are far too specialised. Some players only spend about 3 mins on the field per game.
        Rugby is a more popular sport and an international sport at that so lets not pretend that NFL is of a higher standard.

    • Roar Guru

      December 14th 2012 @ 7:06am
      biltongbek said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Still a very interesting read.

    • Roar Guru

      December 14th 2012 @ 7:09am
      B-Rock said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      I remember an NFL exhibition game in Sydney around 10-12 yrs ago where the media stood some of the RL, AFL and rugby players next to some of the NFL players – they are just on a whole nother scale.

      Read an article a while back on the number of American Samoans in the NFL – a huge number vs the population of Am. Samoa – One would imagine a large number of rugby players from Manu Samoa and the PI would make it in the NFL – perfect combo of size and explosiveness. Love putting a big hit on too

      my pick is that massive Samoa winger (forgotten his name) who ate Rod Davies alive in our recent loss to them

      • December 14th 2012 @ 7:14am
        mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:14am | ! Report

        i think the difference is that 10-12 years ago the rugby players were no where near as powerful as they are today.

        Rugby players are much bigger than leaguies and obviously AFL players nowadays.

        I couldn’t imagine the running backs being bigger than the rugby counterparts but i’m sure whatever they call their forwards would be much bigger due to roids and the fact they don’t have to actually run.

        NFL is a ridiculous sport and sits well with the theme that most things from america deserve little attention or praise.

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2012 @ 8:02am
          B-Rock said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          I’m sure both aust football codes and the NFL have gotten bigger and stronger in that time

          Running backs are much bigger than a typical rugby back line player – the amount of punishment they cop heading straight into the defensive lineman requires them to be both really fast and strong. Only quarterbacks are a comparable size, but obviously have other strengths

          Ill ignore your comments on the US generally – this isn’t the forum for that rubbish.

          • December 14th 2012 @ 8:05am
            mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:05am | ! Report

            RB’s are bigger in general because they’re sprinters so they specialise in upper body strength to give them better acceleration.
            rugby players are more cross country runners with power and speed thrown in

          • December 14th 2012 @ 8:11am
            mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

            i get sick and tired of Auatralians that hero worship the US! We should look to europe for the way in which we should go about things.

            • December 14th 2012 @ 11:56am
              Boz said | December 14th 2012 @ 11:56am | ! Report

              Geez Mark, get a life.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 12:03pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                ?

                good comment DH are you 12?

              • Roar Guru

                December 14th 2012 @ 3:17pm
                jeznez said | December 14th 2012 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                I think there is a talk back radio program missing one of its regular callers.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 5:49pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

                Jeznez may i say that you offer very little on this forum apart from outlabnish statements and general low level vitriol.

                have a good look at yourself and consider buggering off unless you can offer something of intelligent coversation or comment

              • Roar Guru

                December 14th 2012 @ 6:02pm
                PeterK said | December 14th 2012 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

                Mark I and probably most on this forum think Jeznez adds a lot. He writes very thoughtful and detailed articles.

                In general his posts are good and do not have the vitriol that you display.

                If I had to judge I feel he adds more to this forum than you do in terms of quality of post and rugby related discussions.

                You add more in terms of colour, and abuse.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 6:42pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                i don’t

                the guy thinks greg holmes’ ommission from the 2011 RWC was a controversy. He is not in touch with rugby and i resent his passive aggression.

                no need in what is a discussion forum.

              • Roar Guru

                December 14th 2012 @ 10:45pm
                Jiggles said | December 14th 2012 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2012 @ 10:06am
                jeznez said | December 15th 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                ha ha mark, sorry you thought my comment was vitriolic – was just taking the piss.

                As far as Holmes goes I stand by my opinion, the guy was a succesful Wallaby prop who only lost his spot due to injury, his recovery took a couple of years as he fought his way through other injuries. Benn Robinson was injured but for some reason the powers that be ignored this bloke.

                He is a very good loosehead – his cause hasn’t been helped by Link playing him at tight a fair bit.

            • December 14th 2012 @ 12:55pm
              laughing stock said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

              don’t get your Point, were comparing Gridiron to Rugby and you start going on about hero worship and Europe??WTF. Wait for the Article about cowardly fans and prima donna players compared to rugby for your Hero worship of Europe.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 1:07pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

                i was responding to B rock who was responding to an earlier comment.

                the NFL is glorified in australia becaue we are too quick to jump on anything american in our society and it is a mistake. its a game of football that lasts hours because they stop every few seconds.

                what is there to talk about? its a crap sport from a crap country.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 6:24pm
                RebelRanger said | December 14th 2012 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

                @Mark: Did an American gridion player steal your wife?

              • December 14th 2012 @ 6:39pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                haha funny you say that because one tried once and she told him where to go. (i don’t begrudge him, she’s bloody gorgeous!)

                no i just resent the australians that hero worship USA when the rest of the world (rightly) despises what is a shockingly hypocritcal society of wealth and poverty and the NFl, a commercially driven sport with no soul, is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

                rugby although it is now rightly professional has never completelysold its soul to the whim of commercialism, although some here believe it should.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 10:20pm
                Nabley said | December 14th 2012 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

                Mark, I do not think you understand Americans or Australians at all. A person through their own endevour can go from poverty to wealth and vice versa in the US. What is more they are happy doing so. In Australia many fight tooth and nail to cut down the tall poppy, meaning if I can not be rich or sucessful, then I sure as hell am going to stop you being so.

                As for professionalism in rugby, The last nation to win rugby in the Olympics when it was truely amateur was the US.

                You really do have to get off your bigoted hobby horse.

              • December 15th 2012 @ 9:18am
                eagleJack said | December 15th 2012 @ 9:18am | ! Report

                mark compare an NFL jersey to a Wallaby/All Black rugby jersey. And you tell me which one has “completelysold its soul to the whim of commercialism”

              • December 16th 2012 @ 7:39am
                mark said | December 16th 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

                eagle jack we are talking about a sport that actually stops the game for commercial breaks.

                its part of the problem not part of the solution as to our loss of a moral compass as a society

            • December 14th 2012 @ 1:17pm
              Boz said | December 14th 2012 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

              Fine, your entitled to your opinion about America, but we’re on here to discuss sport – and most of us here have some appreciation of American Football and enjoy comparing its good and bad points to our football codes.

              I don’t come here to call other sports or countries ‘crap’ as you so eloquently put it.

              • December 14th 2012 @ 5:52pm
                mark said | December 14th 2012 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                sorry but i can express my opinion that nFL is a crap sport on a sport website!

                after all anyone can plainly see that it isa crap sport and that is in parallel with the usa as enttity

                after all it s the world s biggest economy with the worlds largest homeless per capita population

      • December 14th 2012 @ 7:25am
        mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        samoans have an 80% better chance of making the NFL than any other race

        • December 14th 2012 @ 8:00am
          allblackfan said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

          ridiculous comment, mania. Samoans benefit from access through Americn Samoa.
          I say: wait until the NFL scouts discover Tonga!!

          • December 14th 2012 @ 8:02am
            mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

            whys it a ridiculous comment? tongans will be great but that doesnt make the statement ridiculous either way

          • December 14th 2012 @ 8:40am
            Tigranes said | December 14th 2012 @ 8:40am | ! Report

            Generally Islanders are built for American football – I think most NFL teams would have at least one Polynesian on their roster

            • December 15th 2012 @ 6:23am
              Billy Bob said | December 15th 2012 @ 6:23am | ! Report

              Tigranes, don’t most international Rugby teams have at least one Pacific Islander on their roster?

            • December 19th 2012 @ 7:50am
              Ray said | December 19th 2012 @ 7:50am | ! Report

              Most NFL teams do indeed have one of more Polynesians on their roster. Check out the 60 Minutes special on the NFL’s “football factory” in American Samoa. (sorry, saw that it’s already been posted)

          • December 14th 2012 @ 10:11am
            mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            ABF – u got your wish, from Sailosi blog below. Steven Peaea, born and bred auckland tongan. is this a ridiculous statement?

          • December 16th 2012 @ 7:57am
            Max Power said | December 16th 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

            No, they’ve worked it out that Samoans are 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than African-Americans or any other population group. This is based on the American Samoan population of 65,000 odd thousand producing 30 NFL players.
            http://www.cbssports.com/cbssports/story/12787704/why-are-samoans-flocking-to-the-nfl-watch-60-minutes-sunday

            • Roar Guru

              December 16th 2012 @ 11:59am
              jeznez said | December 16th 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

              So 560% more likely? I like this number as it has a reasoning behind it.

              A lot more sensible than the seemingly randomly arrived at 80% that was proferred earlier in the thread.

              • December 21st 2012 @ 5:38pm
                soapit said | December 21st 2012 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

                no mate, that would be 5.6 times more likely

        • December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm
          klestical said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          actually mania – i think you will find that they have a 560% better chance than any other race.

          This documentary (courtesy of US rugby website, RugbyMag) is coming out in 2013. It talks about polynesians in American Football. Interestingly quite a few of the players have had an American rugby background.

          • December 19th 2012 @ 10:03am
            mania said | December 19th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            different stats from different articles. the one i read by a tongan in america quoted 80 times more likely. my bad saying 80% slip of the typing fingers

      • December 14th 2012 @ 12:16pm
        Bakkies said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Alesana Tuilagi.

      • December 16th 2012 @ 8:02am
        Someone said | December 16th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Alesana Tualagi

    • December 14th 2012 @ 7:16am
      Justin2 said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      What does a place kicker earn in the nfl? You could do that well into your forties. And 50 yards which is a big kick in nfl would be comfortable for a quality test goal kicker.

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2012 @ 7:24am
        biltongbek said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        NFL ball is smaller though, perhaps not as easy as one would think.

        • December 14th 2012 @ 7:26am
          mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:26am | ! Report

          yes biltongbek the sweet spot is a lot smaller and the balls more designed for passing than kicking. still when i played we had a saffa who could kick 60+ yards.

          • Roar Guru

            December 14th 2012 @ 7:34am
            biltongbek said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

            Interesting, I’ll see what I can dig up on Naas Botha, he dabbled with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 80’s

            • Roar Guru

              December 14th 2012 @ 2:41pm
              Jiggles said | December 14th 2012 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

              I saw a youtube clip of this school kid kicking it over 65 up on the highveldt. I am sure he’d go great guns as a punter.

              • December 16th 2012 @ 2:39am
                chris said | December 16th 2012 @ 2:39am | ! Report

                Pretty handy rugby player too…

                The guy from that video is Johan Goosen.

      • December 14th 2012 @ 7:57am
        Albo said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        The NFL ball is a lot harder to kick. And the posts are at the end of the endzone which adds another 10 yards. You gotta have a good leg but certainly some footy players could be good enough.

        • December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm
          Bakkies said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          Francois Steyn could do it. His accuracy percentage isn’t NFL standard but if that was all he had to do at training he would get up there.

    • December 14th 2012 @ 7:18am
      nickoldschool said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      very tough to say who would have made it, or not. The only guy i have in mind is Richard Tardits, the french flanker who made it to the NFL in the 90s. He grew up in france and played for the u21 before moving to the US to study. Got into NFL at uni then played 4 years as a linebacker for the New England Patriots in the NFL!! Not bad for someone who didnt know anything about US football until he reached 20yo.

      Does it mean its easy to make it there? probably not, and the 90s were also another era. What i mean is that there might be more union players, or athletes in general, who could do ok there if they were giving it a real go from a young age. The point with which i disagree most is when you say no one in union is fast enough to play in the NFL. i think we have quite a few guys who are sub 11sec and i imagine they would do more than ok there, speedwise.

      • December 14th 2012 @ 7:39am
        mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        what FX fails to take into a/c (and aus rugby scouts and american gridiron scouts make this error) is brains. lots of players are fast enough but like any sport its the intelligence thats the most important.

        • December 14th 2012 @ 9:58am
          nickoldschool said | December 14th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          True mania, plus the US football players are ultra specialised, they spend hours at training doing the same stuff. In union players are much more versatile and complete especially these days.

          Interesting sledge, didn’t know Scott and had only heard about Sironen. I have read the same stuff about all US sports being overly professional and run like businesses. I still like the fact there is something amateurish in union or league, that the guys are quite approachable.

          I spent almost a year in Japan 6-7 years ago and got passionate about sumo always thinking oh this guy could be a good prop, this one a good lock. I remember a Bulgarian guy named Kotooshu who was over 2m tall and almost 150kgs. I always though he had the body and raw strength to be the most powerful lock in rugby. I have no idea of these guys can run though. Same with the Mongolians who were the best, I always thought these guys could be great props. They had unbelievable legs and not much fat, maybe 185-190cm tall and 150kgs. Dunno if any rugby guys in Japan have a sumo background.

          • December 14th 2012 @ 10:24am
            mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

            nos – gridiron scouts are blinded by size foremost then strength and speed. if your not over 6 foot then your going to ave a hard time getting noticed.
            emmett smith took ages to break into the college football because no one considered him to have potential as an RB because he was too short.
            in rugby though size is secondary to performance so u have a much more diverse range of body types.
            we had a few amatuer sumo’s playing in our gridiron team. they were perfect as they needed strength, fast hands and only had to sprint upto 5-10 yards a play.

            • December 14th 2012 @ 11:37am
              Seriously, Who says Oi? said | December 14th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

              Emmitt Smith didn’t “take ages to break into the college football because no one considered him to have potential as an RB because he was too short.” He played for the Florida Gators and was successful there. When he entered into the draft, some in the media felt that he was lacking the breakaway quality to suit the NFL, as he was never a speedster.

              Running backs are normally shorter players because a low centre of gravity is very useful to that position. Height would never be an issue for him.

      • December 14th 2012 @ 9:04am
        sledgeandhammer said | December 14th 2012 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Colin Scott was another under 21 rep for Australia (rugby) who was scouted along with Paul Sironen and a couple of others to trial at University of Hawaii. Scott was the first Australian to make it into the NFL and no he wasn’t a kicker. I met him once and he told me that NFL wasn’t a sport, it was a business. He said you need to be either very big or very fast. The big difference he said was in the NFL you tackle to maim your opponent not just stop them. He felt that if NFL players used the same tackling techniques in rugby, people would get killed. (This was back in the amateur days of course, but there were a lot of deaths in American football pre pads).

    • December 14th 2012 @ 7:23am
      mania said | December 14th 2012 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Paul Soliai = samoan

      maa would make a better fullback as he has the power. habana and ioane would make excellent halfbax

      nice article fx. i’d like to point out tho that none of the rugby international players would make the nfl because they’d have to spend 2-3 years learning the game.
      but had they played gridiron from when they were young then they would’ve been shoe ins.
      i wont pick the front line as no one is big enough to play o or d line but hows this for a team
      defence
      strong LB – jerry Collins
      middle LB – SBW
      weak LB – mccaw, pocock
      free safety – christian cullen
      strong safety – richard kahui
      CB – jane, savea

      offense
      halfback – habana
      fullback – lomu
      WR – ioane, JPP
      TE – spies, sbw

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