‘I’m ready to show everyone what I can do’: Rugby star turned NFL hopeful Louis Rees-Zammit on swapping tries for touchdowns

‘I’m ready to show everyone what I can do’: Rugby star turned NFL hopeful Louis Rees-Zammit on swapping tries for touchdowns - World - News

Louis Rees-Zammit’s Journey from Rugby to the NFL: A New Challenge and an Uphill Battle

Louis Rees-Zammit, the Welsh rugby union star, turned heads earlier in the year when he announced his decision to leave behind rugby, the sport he had made a name in, and pursue a career in American football with the National Football League (NFL). This unexpected move came despite the fact that Rees-Zammit had already earned 32 international caps for Wales, scoring 14 tries, and had become the youngest player to be selected in the British and Irish Lions squad since 1959 at just 20 years old. He was a standout player for English side Gloucester and a poster boy for Welsh rugby.

From Rugby Poster Boy to NFL Prospect

The 23-year-old’s future in rugby seemed assured, but he chose to leave the security of his sport for the NFL International Player Pathway (IPP), a program that offers opportunities to international players who want to try their luck in American football. This decision came with no guarantees of making it to the league. Rees-Zammit shared his excitement and optimism about this new challenge, stating “I fancy a new challenge, and what better challenge than to be in the NFL?”

Training for a New Game: Preparing for Pro Day

Since making his decision, Rees-Zammit has been training and living at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, alongside the 2024 cohort of IPP athletes. He has been learning the intricacies of American football and preparing for his Pro Day on March 20, where he will showcase his skills and abilities to NFL evaluators. Despite never playing football at a professional or organized level, Rees-Zammit has a familiarity with the game, having grown up watching it. He shared his aspirations of playing on offense and expressed admiration for versatile players like Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey, who excel in both running the ball and catching passes.

A Family Legacy: Following in His Father’s Footsteps

Rees-Zammit also shared his inspiration for pursuing this new challenge, as his father played American football in the UK during his youth. He expressed a desire to continue his father’s legacy and inspire others in Wales to make this change, stating “I want to go beyond what my dad did and inspire a lot of people back home.”

Versatile Skills: Adapting to the NFL

Though Rees-Zammit is known for his blistering speed, he recognizes that the mental aspects of American football will be just as important as his physical abilities. He has been working hard to adapt to the game, focusing on his ability to accelerate and decelerate at high speeds and learn the X’s and O’s of football. He is confident in his ability to apply what he learns on the field, as his experience in rugby will help him spot gaps in defenses and win one-on-one matchups.

Following in Jordan Mailata’s Footsteps

Though the journey to making it to the NFL is challenging, Rees-Zammit remains committed to his goal. He has a head start, having been an NFL fan before joining the IPP and being aware of the mental requirements. He also recognizes that some aspects of rugby will aid his transition to American football, such as his ability to spot gaps in defenses and win one-on-one matchups.

Rees-Zammit’s determination is evident, as he faces the significant challenge of making it in a league where few international players have succeeded without prior experience. He remains undeterred, stating “I know how much you have to know. It’s a lot more than rugby, but I’m gonna continue to work hard and do that.”


Louis Rees-Zammit’s decision to leave rugby for the NFL may come as a surprise, but his determination and confidence in his abilities are evident. With hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck, he may be able to defy the odds and make his dream a reality. His journey is just beginning, but one thing is for sure: Rees-Zammit is a player to watch.