Wales’ Rees-Zammit to leave rugby for NFL move-ZoomTech News

Wales and Gloucester winger Louis Rees-Zammit is to go away rugby union with instant impact to pursue a profession within the NFL.

The 22-year-old, who has been capped 32 instances by his nation, described the choice to hitch the NFL worldwide participant pathway (IPP) as “painstaking”.

Rees-Zammit is aiming to safe a spot on an American soccer workforce for 2024.

“I’m extraordinarily excited to take up a once-in-a-lifetime alternative to pursue a brand new problem,” he mentioned.

Rees-Zammit mentioned the transfer didn’t essentially imply he was retiring from rugby.

“Somewhat at this age and stage of my life I’m excited to discover a singular problem that has the potential to diversify my skillset,” he mentioned.

Rees-Zammit broke into the Gloucester workforce as a young person earlier than making his debut for Wales in October 2020.

He has since turn into one of many workforce’s star gamers, scoring 5 tries finally autumn’s World Cup as Wales reached the quarter-finals.

However he’ll now journey to Florida this week to begin on the IPP – a 10-week programme which provides athletes from around the globe the prospect to earn a spot on an NFL roster. The 2024 NFL season is because of start in early September.

Rees-Zammit won’t now be a part of the Wales squad for the Six Nations, which was named quickly after his announcement.

He additionally steps away from Gloucester, who’ve been his solely skilled membership and he mentioned had been “extraordinarily near my coronary heart”.

Rees-Zammit mentioned he had “immense gratitude” in direction of Gloucester – notably head coach George Skivington and chief government Alex Brown.

“My greatest needs go to Wales for the upcoming Six Nations and the 12 months forward, whereas I’ll proceed to carefully observe the continued progress of Gloucester from afar,” he added.

Information ‘a little bit of a shock’ for Gatland

Wales head coach Warren Gatland mentioned he realized of the information solely an hour earlier than it was introduced.

“It is slightly little bit of a shock,” mentioned Gatland. “He rang me to let me know and provides me that data, say thanks very a lot for his time on the World Cup and the way he loved it.

“I needed him all the most effective. I actually hope all of it works out for him.”

Rees-Zammit has made eight appearances for Gloucester this season, scoring 4 tries, together with a beautiful effort of their European Problem Cup win at Edinburgh final weekend.

He had been linked with a transfer to a French High 14 membership for subsequent season.

“We perceive the scale of the chance earlier than Zam and his lifelong ambition to play within the NFL,” mentioned Brown.

“While we’re naturally unhappy to see him go away, finally, we’re not in a position to dissuade him from taking a chance of this magnitude with the NFL.”

Rees Zammit grew to become Gloucester’s youngest-ever participant within the Premiership when he made his debut for them aged 18

‘Now could be the proper time’

Rees-Zammit has been thought of certainly one of Welsh rugby’s brightest younger prospects since he burst onto the scene and scored his first worldwide attempt in opposition to Georgia in November 2020, along with his tempo serving to to make him one of many sport’s most fun wingers.

He has performed prior to now three Six Nations for Wales earlier than showing in his first World Cup in France in September.

In 2021, he was a member of the British and Irish Lions’ squad for his or her tour of South Africa and performed in 4 matches.

He grew to become Gloucester’s youngest participant in Premiership historical past when he made his first look aged 18, occurring to function 77 instances for the aspect.

“I am solely 22 now and I’ve performed fairly a bit in rugby,” Rees-Zammit mentioned in an interview with Gloucester.

“The worldwide participant pathway is in January and it simply so occurs the Six Nations is in February, and I believe now’s the proper time with my age and having to select up a brand new sport.

“It is nothing about rugby, it is about my ambition to make my dream come true and play within the NFL.

“As slightly boy my dad has at all times introduced me as much as be an enormous NFL fan and rising up he used to play American soccer, so it is form of to proceed his legacy and hopefully transcend and make him proud.”

Can Rees-Zammit achieve NFL the place others have failed?

Rees-Zammit is just not the primary participant to maneuver from the Premiership to the NFL – however up to now no one British has managed to change sports activities and make an impression on the sport.

Former England and Wasps winger Christian Wade joined the Buffalo Payments below the IPP programme in 2019.

He scored a a 65-yard landing on his debut for the Payments in pre-season however by no means made an everyday season look.

He was third on the all-time Premiership try-scoring checklist with 82 tries when he was reduce by the Payments in 2022.

Lock Christian Scotland-Williamson left Worcester in 2017 to go down the same route – with the purpose of being a good finish.

However after three years attempting to make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, he too returned having not performed an everyday season match.

He joined Harlequins in 2021 and featured in two Premiership Rugby Cup ties.

Crew GB discus thrower Lawrence Okoye had a bit extra time within the NFL – however no extra common season minutes.

Having been topped European Underneath-23 champion in 2011 and reaching the ultimate on the 2012 Olympic Video games in London, he took half within the 2013 NFL Mix and entered that 12 months’s draft.

Regardless of not being drafted he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, the place he spent two years.

He went on to have spells on the apply squads on the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets, the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins between 2015 and 2017.

He returned to athletics and gained silver on the 2022 Commonwealth Video games in Birmingham.

‘Turbulence’ continues for Welsh rugby

Evaluation – BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones

This information has come out of completely nowhere, with Wales boss Warren Gatland solely listening to about it minutes earlier than naming his Six Nations squad.

Having gained 32 Wales caps by the age of twenty-two, Rees-Zammit was one of many hottest properties within the sport – and his shock departure from the game is a serious blow.

Nevertheless, it is a once-in-a-lifetime alternative, and by switching at such a younger age he has given himself each the choice to return to rugby afterward, in addition to a greater likelihood of cracking the NFL, which is such a frightening prospect.

After a rollercoaster 2023 for Welsh rugby, the turbulence exhibits no signal of letting up in 2024.

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