We all know the world is shrinking. For the American version of football, that has never been more evident. The “Ruggers from Down Under” have been bringing their “footie” skills to our shores for years now, as multi-dimensional punters. Now, the open field run skills of Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne in the NFL may have changed both games forever.
Hayne, a 6-2, 230 pound chiseled pro rugby star for a decade Down Under (making 1.5 million per year) has officialy made the regular season 53-man roster of the San Francisco 49ers as a running back and kick returner. With virtually no previous football training, the 27 year old Hayne simply ran around, over and through veteran NFL defenders in the pre-season. Even 49ers Hall of Famer Jerry Rice remarked, “I get excited every time I see him near the ball.”
Now, others Aussie rugby stars are following suit. Josh Dugan, a fullback for the St. George Illawarra Dragons, plays the same position as Hayne in the NRL in Australia and, at his best, is one of the most powerful players in the sport. He says, “I reckon I could do this as well. Haynsey and I are similar players.”
And there will be more, especially since one of Australia’s all-time rugby stars is now applying his considerable promotional skills to the expansion of US-style Arena Football throughout the Pacific region. David Niu, the President of AFL Global, hard at work establishing the CAFL (China Arena Football League) from his offices in Conshocken, Pa., is one of the founders rugby on American shores. With the distance between sports, and the countries, narrowing, as a result of Hayne’s sensational success, Niu finds himself back in the international sports pages again.