Imagine you are given the task to assemble a rugby team made up entirely of current professional athletes who DO NOT play rugby. I tried to do just that, and it wasn’t easy. In assembling my team, I attempted to incorporate athletes from as many pro sports as possible, rather than taking the easy way out and selecting all football players, who tend to be an obvious fit. Anyway, here is my team:
1) Prop: Jeremy Shockey
Shockey has the strength, tenacity, and athleticism to succeed as a prop in rugby.
2) Hooker: Caleb Campbell
Campbell, the rookie linebacker and safety for the Detroit Lions, has shown in college that he has the discipline, will, and ability to succeed in any role. It is this spirit that makes me believe that Campbell would be successful if given the task of playing rugby.
3) Prop: Adalius Thomas
Thomas is arguably the most versatile linebacker in the NFL. Despite his massive, 270-pound frame, Thomas has experience playing every defensive position, from rushing the passer as a defensive end to covering receivers as a cornerback.
It is this athleticism that would allow Thomas to make an impact on the rugby pitch. I see Thomas as being a potential tackle machine, as well as someone who could push back a scrum with his size.
4) Lock: Dwight Howard
The lock is supposed to be the tallest player on the team, right? With his chiseled 6’10" frame and athleticism, Howard should be a perfect fit for the position. He would definitely provide a solid push to the scrum, and would be dominant due to his size on all throw-ins.
5) Lock: Shawn Merriman
The fearsome linebacker has the tenacity and tackling ability to become a defensive stopper for this team. Also, his strength should allow him to add a push to the scrum.
6) Flanker: Brandon Jacobs
At 6'4" and 264 pounds, Jacobs is one of the most powerful runners in the NFL. On trucking plays and near-goal situations, Jacobs would absolutely dominate his opponents.
7) Flanker: Kyle Farnsworth
Yes, I know he’s a pitcher. However, at 6’4" and 235, Farnsworth has the size to make an impact as a flanker. In a recent Sports Illustrated survey of the toughest players in baseball, Farnsworth was the only pitcher to break the top 20.
His toughness combined with his size could lead to some pretty good success for Farnsworth on the rugby pitch.
8) Number 8: Kimbo Slice
Kimbo just may be the toughest player on this team. If he could bring the same intensity that he has while fighting onto the rugby pitch, I could see him making an impact both offensively and defensively.
9) Scrum Half: Steve Nash
It just so happens that the Suns’ star point guard was also a star rugby player in high school. Nash has the vision and the passing ability to be a serious playmaker as a scrum half.
Also, Nash’s kicking ability that he picked up in his younger years while playing soccer should help him on the rugby pitch as well.
10) Fly Half: David Beckham
What a perfect fit for the position. Firstly, David’s kicking ability would provide the team with the clutch kicker that they would need to succeed.
There isn’t even much of a question as to whether or not his kicking skills would translate effectively on the rugby pitch—Beckham actually had filmed a commercial with England’s fly half Johnny Wilkinson in which he kicked field goals along with the rugby star.
11) Wing: Kyle Harrison
Harrison is one of lacrosse’s speediest stars, and I have no doubts that his blazing speed would translate to success on a rugby pitch. In addition, Harrison should bring the durability, agility, and toughness that is necessary to succeed at the wing position.
12) Inside Centre: Adrian Peterson
Who better to make explosive runs up the center of the field than Peterson? When the ball is in his hands, Peterson would have the speed and agility to fly pass the defenses’ bigger tacklers, and he has the power he would need to bowl over the smaller backs.
In this respect, Peterson would become a very dangerous weapon on the rugby pitch.
13) Outside Centre: Ladainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson has the speed, agility, power, and overall running ability with the ball in his hands to dominate as an outside centre. If he is even half as successful on the pitch as he is on the gridiron, he would be a star.
14) Wing: Reggie Bush
Reggie has the incredible speed necessary to make an impact at the wing position. With a little work, I could see Bush becoming the next Brian Habana.
15) Fullback: Devin Hester
Hester may just be the best kick returner in the history of football. One of the primary jobs of a fullback in rugby is to catch and return the kicks of the opposing team. Good fit? Yeah, I thought so.