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A Rugby XV Of Perfectly Suited NFL PLayers

A Rugby XV Of Perfectly Suited NFL PLayers
By Mark Farrelly

With the Rugby World Cup semi-finals this weekend, as well as NFL in London, Chris Kane has put together a great piece on his blog, building a rugby 15 out of current NFL players.

Do you agree with his line-up?

With the Rugby World Cup nearing an end, many will soon turn their attention back to rugby’s American cousin, the NFL. A sport seen by many rugby fans as an overprotective, needlessly drawn out version of rugby, we here at phantom views don’t necessarily believe this. A game with collisions scientifically proven to be four times harder then those taken in rugby, pro football is not for the faint hearted. Many rugby players have even struggled to make it in the National Football League. However, Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne has shown that rugby players can in fact make it in the NFL. He made the San Francisco 49ers final 53 man roster in the face of extreme pessimism from rugby and NFL fan bases alike. It is with this in mind we try to turn the tables as we present our NFL starting XV:

Fullback: Dez Bryant – Wide Receiver Dallas Cowboys

Starting with fullback and who better put in the 15 shirt then one of, if not the best, receiver in football. Not only does he have a rare blend of size and speed but Bryant also possesses one of the key skills associated with the fullback position; the ability to attack the ball in the air. Bryant fielded punts and kick offs through his time in college and during the early stages of his NFL career, averaging 23.2 yards per attempt with the Cowboys. All these factors combined would make Bryant a force to be reckoned with on the rugby pitch.

Wing (C): Jarryd Hayne – Running Back – San Francisco 49ers

Yes this may be a bit of a cop out answer but you can’t mention the NFL and rugby in the same breath without Hayne immediately springing to mind. Hayne was a superstar in Australian rugby league and while yes we are talking strictly rugby union here, he would still lead those men of the gridiron through these uncharted waters. More evidence neccessary?


Outside Centre: Le’Veon Bell – Running Back – Pittsburgh Steelers

If you were to give the measurements of 6″1′ and 225 lbs to any rugby fan they may be forgiven for thinking you were talking about a young Ma’a Nonu or any other noteworthy international centre but you’d be wrong. Bell’s agility and quickness would be a valuable addition on the rugby pitch, breaking the line at will by making defenders miss or by running them over.

Inside Centre: Adrian Peterson – Running Back – Minnesota Vikings

It would be remiss of myself to compile a list of potential NFL rugby players and not mention one of the best running backs in the league over the last decade. While the measurements between our two centres, Peterson and Bell, don’t differ greatly, their difference in styles mirror those of the great Welsh centre partnership of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies. Peterson matching Roberts as the power runner and Bell matching Davies’ flare.


Wing: Odell Beckham Jr. – Wide Receiver – New York Giants

One of the most electrifying wide receivers in the league today, and the second receiver to make the NFL XV, Odell set the turf on fire last year, winning offensive rookie of the year despite missing the first four games of the season. His speed and agility make him the perfect candidate to play wing as much of his open field running mirrors what would be seen from his egg chasing counterparts.

Out Half: Justin Tucker – Kicker – Baltimore Ravens

Yes, this is not mistake, that is a kicker making an NFL starting XV ahead of any running back, quarterback and wide receiver, and here’s why. Unlike American football, kicking plays a massive part in the game of rugby. Often the difference between winning and losing, who better to start here then the most accurate kicker in NFL history in Tucker. Throughout his three years with the Baltimore Ravens, Tucker has achieved a kick success percentage of 89.9%, impressive even my Dan Carter’s standards.

Scrum Half: Russell Wilson – Quarterback – Seattle Seahawks

It seemed only appropriate that the position in rugby which involves the most passing should go to a quarterback. We thought who better then one of the shortest starting quarterbacks in the league to play our egg chaser. Wilson, at a height of 5″ 11′, is one of the shorter quarterbacks in history and a dynamic runner when forced to scramble. While he may be used to passing forward instead of backward, we’re sure the Super Bowl champion could master the back pass in no time at all.


Loosehead Prop: Aaron Donald – Defensive Tackle – St. Louis Rams

Moving to the forwards now and we begin at loosehead prop with St. Louis Sophomore, Aaron Donald. The 2014 defensive rookie of the year would make a fine prop given his power and quickness off the snap. While he may not be used to actually carrying the ball, one would imagine Donald would be a destructive ball carrier given the opportunity.

Hooker: Jason Kelce – Centre – Philadelphia Eagles

Whereas Jason Kelce is used to snapping the ball backward we feel he would make an ideal fit for hooker in this starting XV. Kelce is easily the most athletic centres, if not offensive lineman, in the entire league. His combination of size and speed make him look like a rugby player at times and he would fit nicely into the middle of the front row.

Tighthead Prop: Vince Wilfork – Nose Tackle – Houston Texans

Every front row needs someone to anchor the scrum and who better then the 325 lbs Wilfork. Not only does Wilfork bring his size to the equation, he also brings his renowned leadership skills of which he was famous for within the Patriot locker room during his 10 years there. Rugby is a game which encourages leaders to the fore to set an example and who better then the five time Pro Bowler.


Lock: Rob Gronkowski – Tight End – New England Patriots

A man who looks like he could slot in anywhere in the second or even back row, Gronkowski is one of the better athletes in the league. While he is renowned as a touchdown scoring machine, Gronk is also powerful in the block. Transferring this power to a rugby scrum would not give him tremendous difficulty, throw in the fact he is already a very strong ball carrier and you find one of the better players in the NFL XV.

Lock: JJ Watt – Defensive End – Houston Texans

If JJ Watt can play offense, score three touchdowns, another two on defence and become the only player to ever have multiple 20 sack seasons in the NFL the why couldn’t he play rugby? Watt is a no brainer for the NFL XV, his versatility means a transition to rugby may prove easiest for him ahead of all the other members of this list.

Blindside Flanker: – DeAndre Levy – Linebacker – Detroit Lions

One of the more notorious linebackers in the league, Levy can do it all. Rush the passer or drop in coverage, DeAndre makes it all look easy, meaning he is a perfect candidate for the NFL XV. While Levy ball in hand is a bit of an unknown, his career 141 return yards on 12 interceptions does point to DeAndre being a good ball carrier.


Openside Flanker: – Michael Bennett – Defensive End – Seattle Seahawks

While he may have little to no experience as a ball carrier, his pass rushing abilities show just how powerful at the point of attack Bennett really is. A prominent member of the great Seattle defense, his constant ability to pressure the pocket can translate to a strong presence at the breakdown and in the set piece for the NFL XV.

Number 8: – Cameron Wake – Defensive End – Miami Dolphins

A man with all the physical traits of possibility the greatest number 8 of all time, that being Sergio Parisse, Wake could transfer to this position with great ease. A player whose size lends him to being extremely strong in all facets of rugby, Cameron would make a big addition to the NFL XV’s pack.

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