NFL Players That Could Have Played Rugby

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NEW YORK, NY  – The similarities between the sports of American football and rugby are well-documented and have been discussed for a long time. Both sports attract some of the strongest and most athletic individuals in the world. Formations on the field and the individual positions also share a lot of similarities. This all leads fans to wonder, what NFL stars could have also made excellent rugby players? Let’s take a look at some of the most-talented players in American football.

Moscow Rugby Team… Thanks to Olga Guryanova for the photo.

Darius Leonard

Darius Leonard is one of the strongest defensive players in the NFL today. At 6’2”, 230 lbs, he is a strong and athletic player on the field. Playing in the linebacker position, he is known for his ability to create pressure and force fumbles. His presence on the Indianapolis Colts helps them perform at the highest levels. According to Oddschecker the Colts are the -143 favorites to win their first game of the season versus the Minnesota Vikings. In American football, the linebacker position is incredibly dynamic and has a lot of responsibility. They must cover a lot of ground, but also tackle a lot. With his tackling skills in mind, Leonard would make a great flanker or #8.

James Develin

Develin is retired as of 2020, but will forever be remembered as a phenomenal fullback in the league. Being a tough and strong competitor, he would naturally make an exceptionally good lock, especially with how similar the positions are. In the NFL, a fullback must block defensive players to allow room for the running backs and receivers to maneuver. This position shares a lot of similarities with a lock.

Adrian Peterson

Peterson is a legendary running back in the NFL. At age 35, he is in the twilight of his career but his accomplishments and play-style will continue to inspire new athletes for generations. As the name implies, a running back in the NFL is very comparable to a back in rugby. Peterson is known for his dynamic play-style that would translate very well to rugby. He creates distance easily, has excellent hands to catch pitches, and is hard enough to even get close to let alone tackle. Players like Peterson truly make us wonder what could have been.

Maurkice Pouncey

Now on to one of the most underappreciated positions in rugby: the scrum half. In comparison to the NFL, this position is very similar to the center. Of all the players on a team, these are often the most overlooked. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game where the center was injured and needed to be replaced, you’ll know full well the value of this position. Pouncey is an excellent center in the NFL right now, and is an 8 time Pro Bowler. With lightning fast reflexes, incredible hand speed, and sharp instincts, Pouncey could revolutionize the position.  Granted, he’d have to trim down a bit but he is a freakishly talented athlete and would be a strong force in any scrum.

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RWU Co-host Johnathan Wicklow Barberie is the contrived Kiwi rugby personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges... Matt McCarthy handles the more serious interviews and handles the RWU Sports Desk.