Wales speedster Louis Rees-Zammit produced a shock when announcing his departure for the NFL, but he isn’t the first rugby player to try his hand at the switch.
Over the years, several rugby union, league and sevens players have made the ambitious leap to try their hand at the NFL.
While the transition is challenging, these athletes showcased their versatility and athleticism in pursuit of a new sporting adventure.
Here are three players who previously attempted to swap tries for touchdowns.
Christian Wade, a former rugby union star with the English club Wasps, made waves when he transitioned to the NFL in 2019.
Wade’s speed and agility as a rugby winger caught the attention of the Buffalo Bills, who signed him as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program.
Despite facing a steep learning curve in American football, Wade’s athleticism was evident during preseason games, as he scored a touchdown with his first touch of the ball.
Wade never made it onto the Bills’ active Roster and returned to rugby union with Top 14 giants Racing 92 in 2022.
Rugby 🏉 + NFL 🏈 = 🔥
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 17, 2024
Perhaps one of the most high-profile crossovers, Jarryd Hayne’s journey from rugby league in Australia to the NFL captured the attention of sports fans worldwide.
A two-time Dally M Medal winner in rugby league, Hayne decided to pursue a career in American football in 2015. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a running back and return specialist.
Although his NFL stint was relatively short-lived, Hayne’s experiment highlighted the athleticism and adaptability possessed by top-tier rugby athletes.
He won that second game too thanks to the legend from down under Jarryd Hayne in his NFL debut! pic.twitter.com/yNeatU28sl
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) October 9, 2020
Adding to the list is Daniel Adongo, a former professional rugby player from Kenya who made a notable transition to the NFL.
Adongo, a flanker in rugby union who played for the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls, caught the attention of the Indianapolis Colts in 2013. Despite limited football experience, Adongo signed with the Colts as a linebacker.
He featured in two NFL matches for the Colts, before being waived in 2015.
Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images