Rugby Star Louis Rees-Zammit Signs With The Chiefs & Could Be A Major X-Factor With The New Kickoff Rules

Louis Rees-Zammit

The NFL’s International Pathway Program hasn’t exactly produced a ton of household names. I don’t recall a raging success story anything close to Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata. However, when it comes to the dynastic Kansas City Chiefs, given their track record of player acquisition in the Andy Reid era, you can’t really write off anyone they sign.

That’s especially so now that they’ve given Welsh rugby sensation Louis Rees-Zammit a three-year contract.

Great major professional sports organizations tend to be ahead of the curve. Rees-Zammit is only 23 years old, comes from a totally different sport a literal ocean away from Kansas City, and yet, I can’t help but think GM Brett Veach cooked here. Why? Because Veach rarely misses, Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows how to maximize his playmakers’ skill sets better than just about anyone, and Rees-Zammit’s raw athleticism and innate toughness as a rugby guy should translate well to special teams at the very least.

The kickoff in the NFL has largely fallen by the wayside. In the name of player safety, the league decided to move up the kick by five yards in recent years, so you see a lot of nothing-burger routine touchbacks. All of a sudden, the landscape has shifted and could swing the outcome of games as we know them with some recent rules changes. Below you can read the new rules, which are confusing as all hell, and then see a visual representation of what it’ll look like.

Does that not look almost like rugby? Battles at the line of scrimmage in pro football are more like a rugby scrum. This kickoff situation is more like open-field rugby, and better yet, you can only have so many wrinkles to a kickoff return in your playbook. Rees-Zammit wouldn’t have to digest an encyclopedic playbook to make an impact in this area of the game. He could go through a full season of just learning the offense while still chipping in plenty as a return man.

Look at this dude move. Appears to be a natural at running back and/or wide receiver. Crazy good hands already!

I think the Chiefs really do see something special in the young man. We’re still probably another decade or so away from International Pathway Players making a splash in the NFL on a consistent basis. However, we may very well look back at Rees-Zammit as a tipping point and a IPP successor to Mailata who presents a beacon of hope for others considering a jump to the NFL from other sports. Suiting up for the best team in the sport certainly helps exposure-wise. Kansas City is in a unique position to give Rees-Zammit an extensive trial run.

A new player couldn’t ask for a better situation to walk into than being coached by Reid and eventually catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.

Here’s something to send you out on in case you’re understandably skeptical about what a rugby player can do on the gridiron. You know how the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill — the fastest man in the NFL in many folks’ estimation — and proceeded to win the next two Super Bowls? Well, turns out Rees-Zammit has game-changing speed in his own right.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock