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Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit quits rugby immediately to join NFL

By Josh Raisey
Wales' right wing Louis Rees-Zammit applauds after defeat in the France 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between Wales and Argentina at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, south-eastern France, on October 14, 2023. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Gloucester have announced that Wales and British & Irish Lions winger Louis Rees-Zammit has been released from his contract immediately to join the NFL International Player Pathway (IPP).

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The 32-cap Wales international is set to follow in the footsteps of Christian Wade, Christian Scotland-Williamson and Alex Gray in joining the IPP from the Gallagher Premiership.

With the current NFL season drawing to a close, he revealed in a statement on social media that he hopes to earn a spot on an NFL roster for 2024.

Rees-Zammit will fly out to Florida on Friday ahead of a ten-week intensive training camp, whereby he will find out at the end whether he is wanted by a team or not.

The Welshman showcased what a world class talent he is on Saturday with a scorching solo try against Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup, in what has turned out to be his last appearance in rugby. His last outing for his country, meanwhile, was Wales’ Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina in October.

The announcement has come just before Warren Gatland was expected to name the 22-year-old in his Guinness Six Nations squad.

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In a statement shared by Gloucester, Rees-Zammit said: “Gloucester Rugby has been a huge part of my life. From the start at Hartpury College and my first professional rugby contract with Gloucester in 2020, to my Wales and Lions caps; the Club has been central to my development as a player, and I’m so grateful for their support.

“I will always be very proud of my time at Kingsholm and want to particularly thank the incredible fans who make the Club so special. Also, to my teammates, to George Skivington and Alex Brown, thank you for giving me such special memories and for supporting this next stage of my career.

“I have had the incredible honour of playing rugby for my country which, as a proud Welshman, I’ve never taken for granted. However, I believe that this is the right time for me to realise another professional goal of playing American football in the US. Those opportunities don’t come around very often.”

Gloucester Chief Executive Officer Alex Brown said: “We understand the size of the opportunity before Zam and his lifelong ambition to play in the NFL.

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“Whilst we are naturally sad to see him leave, ultimately, we are not able to dissuade him from taking an opportunity of this magnitude with the NFL.

“We remain very proud of the role Gloucester Rugby has played in helping to develop him into the world class player he has become, and we wish him the very best in the US. He will always be welcome at Kingsholm.”

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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