Rugby sensation Louis Rees-Zammit eyeing transition to NFL

Louis Rees-Zammit, one of Wales’ best young rugby players, has announced he is pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL through the International Player Pathway Program. “We understand the size of the opportunity before Zam and his lifelong ambition to play in the NFL,” Alex Brown said to ESPN. Brown is the CEO of Gloucester, Rees-Zammit’s club. “Whilst we are naturally sad to see him leave, ultimately, we are not able to dissuade him from taking an opportunity of this magnitude with the NFL. We remain very proud of the role Gloucester Rugby has played in helping to develop him into the world-class player he has become, and we wish him the very best in the US. He will always be welcome at Kingsholm.” Rees-Zammit, 22, played in 31 Test cap matches and scored 14 tries. He was the youngest player since 1959 to be named to Wales’ roster for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa in 2021. His contract with Gloucester expires at the end of the season, but the club agreed to let him go early. He will travel to Florida at the end of the week to start training. The NFL’s International Player Pathway Program was started in 2017 and is focused on helping foreign-born athletes reach the NFL. Eagles tackle Jordan Mailata and Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson are two players who have roster spots on their respective teams who were part of the pathway program. Other rugby players have tried to crack the league, but not all have fared well. The only player to have any notable success that made the switch from rugby to football was David Dixon, who was drafted by the Patriots in 1992 and played 13 seasons in the NFL. “I have had the incredible honor of playing rugby for my country which, as a proud Welshman, I’ve never taken for granted,” Rees-Zammit said to ESPN. “However, I believe that this is the right time for me to realize another professional goal of playing American football in the U.S. Those opportunities don’t come around very often.”