PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA – The NFL schedule makers were nice enough to save the best game for last in the first full week of preseason games; the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. Rugby fans around the world should have their televisions set to NFL Network at 1:30 p.m. ET today to take in the magic.
Not only should you have your eyes on this game because the Bills are my favorite team, but because there’s a new rugger-turned-NFLer in town; Colts linebacker Daniel Adongo. Adongo is a Kenyan rugby lock who played with the Southern Kings, the recently-relegated Super 15 squad out of Port Elizabeth, before landing the 90th roster spot on the Colts’ 90-man roster.
For rugby fans, Adongo is the player you want to be on the lookout for throughout the game. You may not see him on the field until the 4th quarter, if at all, but at any rate be on the lookout for #46.
At 6’5″ and 257 lbs. Adongo has great intangibles. Freakishly great intangibles, actually. In his workout for the Colts, Adongo recorded an 11-foot broad jump, with no prior experience (WOW!) If that’s not incredible, I don’t know what is.
It will be interesting to see if the Colts throw Adongo into the fire today or if they wait until next weekend considering the converted linebacker has only been on the roster for a week and a half now and has never played a down of football in his life and only seen a handful of games.
You’re starting to see a trend with rugby players with no football experience converting from rugby to the NFL, starting last year with New York Jets tight end Hayden Smith, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye in the spring and now Adongo.
The guess here for these outside-the-box acquisitions is that NFL scouts see ruggers as tough players who can handle game stress and because they have a tremendous amount of athleticism for their size, which can translate nicely on an NFL roster. Don’t be surprised to see this cross-over trend continue to occur more frequently in future seasons….
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Let’s go Bills!