A NFL player has caused a stir online after making the remarkable claim that he ‘dominate’ rugby ‘easily’ should he decide to play the game. Marquette King, who is currently a ‘free agent’, meaning he is without a team, made the outrageous claim on Twitter.
King tweeted: ‘If I played rugby I would dominate it easily’.
If I played rugby I would dominate it easily.
— Marquette King (@MarquetteKing) June 20, 2020
Despite the outlandish nature of the claim, which one imagines was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, rugby fans took the bait in droves. When playing, the 6 foot, 87kg 31-year-old is a punter, with experience with Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos, before signing for an XFL side in 2019.
As a kicking specialist, presumably without the ability to pass, tackle or manage a game, King would be of next to no value on a rugby pitch. Punters, who are widely considered the wimps of the NFL, are stereotypically known for avoiding contact and of being one of the least athletic of the specialist positions.
Increasingly, it is rugby players, both league and union, that are making hay in American football. Christian Wade, Jarryd Hayne and Jordan Mailata, among others, have all made an impact after switching to America’s national sport.
In fact, a former Scottish rugby union player is currently doing exceptionally well as a punter in the NFL. Jamie Gillan plays for the Cleveland Browns and has just enjoyed an outstanding ‘rookie season’.
A former rugby player at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, where he would have played alongside the likes of Zach Mercer and Stafford McDowall, Gillan moved to the US in 2014, where he attended Leonardtown High School in Maryland. From there, he received a scholarship offer to attend Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Browns picked up Gillan as an undrafted rookie in 2019, with the 23-year-old not being drafted following the conclusion of his four years as a college punter. According to reports, Gillan ruined three footballs with the strength of his punting during one pre-draft workout, but despite that impressive feat and a strong collegiate career, the Scot still went unselected in the 2019 NFL Draft. That is not unusual for punters, kickers and other special teams contributors, though, with very few teams putting a high enough premium on the positions to invest picks, particularly high ones, on them during the annual seven-round draft.
Gillian ended his debut season with 63 punts for 2913 yards (2622 net yards) with 28 punts downed inside the 20-yard line which earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Should King decide to attempt to back up his claim of dominating rugby, maybe he could hit up the Scot for some tips.
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