RWU HQ – Last week we featured Manase Tu’ungafasi, a former rugger turned BYU footballer, here at Rugby Wrap Up… and we’re at it again.
Brigham Young University’s star flyhalf Jonny Linehan, or “Jonny Rugby” as he’s known in Provo, announced last month that he’d give football a shot this summer, according to Dessert News.
“Yeah, I think so,” Linehan told the newspaper on May 2. “If I can make it through this match without being put in a wheelchair, yeah, over the summer we’ll work on that. I would love to represent BYU. If football is the way that I can do it as well, I’ll do that also.”
And not only did Linehan make it through said match – the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship match – the Cougar led his team to a 30-27 victory over Cal, giving BYU its fifth-overall national championship in program history. The flyhalf scored 15 of the Cougars’ 30 points, and was 3-for-3 on penalty kicks and 3-for-3 on conversions.
“I knew we had to take advantage of every opportunity we had to put points on the board,” Linehan told BYU Rugby after the victory. “Cal plays hard every minute of the match in all the times we’ve played them.”
With the rugby season over, Linehan plans to put his leg to use and try out for a spot on the football team’s roster as a punter.
This will be the Auckland native’s second time on the BYU football team. The dual-sport athlete was with the squad two years ago as a cornerback, after the Cougars were decimated by injury in the secondary.
“It was pretty cool to have my first football training with a Division I school with a pretty good football team and I had never put on a football helmet before,” Linehan said. “So it was a pretty humbling experience and one I’ll never forget. … It was hard for me to grasp. I just tried to keep the receivers in front of me. If they made the first down, it was all right — as long as they didn’t get a touchdown. I was terrible, but it was a fun experience. … It’s a big commitment if you’re not on scholarship.”
Luckily for Linehan, transitioning to a punter will be a much easier process than as defensive back. The flyhalf has already said he will lean on a rugby-style punt before he gets down the traditional style.
“That’s what would be easiest for me,” Linehan said. “But I can do traditional spiral punts, it’s just getting consistent.”
Make sure to look for Linehan this fall when the Cougars open up camp later this summer.
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