Despite coming under public scrutiny following their abysmal performance at the Rugby World Cup, reports suggest that some members of the England rugby team have caught the eye of NFL scouts.
This summer we saw the Australian rugby league star, Jarryd Hayne, successfully make the transition to football. His standout performances in the preseason and his ability to run through players has been a breath of fresh air for the sport.
The former Giants defensive end, Osi Umenyiora, has been following the World Cup and has made a note of a few England stars he’d like to speak to.
Umenyiora is London-born and won two Super Bowls during his time in New York. He’s now a UK ambassador for the NFL and understands the attraction English players would bring to the sport this side of the pond, especially if London were to get a franchise.
The NFL would be an attractive option for players. Top rugby earners could earn at least three times their salaries.
Umenyiora told the Daily Mail, “These rugby players are so physical. I watched a guy who was just incredible, the way he ran through opponents. I can’t wait to talk to him. If you put a helmet and pads on him he would kill people.”
“There is a huge talent pool in the US but there is always going to be a demand for guys who are 6ft 5in, weigh 250lbs and can run the 100m in 11 seconds.”
During the New York Jets’ visit to the UK we spoke exclusively to wide receiver Eric Decker.
He told us he was hoping to watch some rugby whilst he was here, “I wish we’d get some more free time to check it out” said Decker after their Friday practice session at London Irish’s training ground.
“We’re on a tight schedule so being able to get to games will be tricky, but I’m hoping to watch some on the TV”.
When asked if NFL stars could compete in rugby Decker replied, “we were picking out some of the guys from the team who could make it as rugby players, I don’t know if there are enough tough guys who can compete with the guys out here.”
The Canadian rugby team impressed against France and Italy during this year’s tournament. One of their stars, Hubert Buydens, started his career playing in the CFL for the BC Lions. The 270lb prop was told to add an extra 30lbs if he wanted to make the Lions’ offensive line. Buydens decided to follow his heart and chose rugby.
He went on to play union at club level in New Zealand. “The travel is one of things I love the most,” Buydens said. “If not for rugby, I doubt I would have visited many of the amazing countries I’ve seen.”
So will we one day see Owen Farrell kicking field goals, or Jonathan Joseph playing running back? It’s not as bizarre as it once seemed.