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Kansas City Chiefs to Sign Former Pro Rugby Player Louis Rees-Zammit


Kansas City Chiefs sign Louis Rees-Zammit
© Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SPORTS


The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs made a peculiar move Wednesday, as the NFL team has delved into international waters, making their intentions known to sign former professional rugby player and Welsh international Louis Rees-Zammit this upcoming Friday. Rees-Zammit will be signing on for the Chiefs as a running back/wide receiver, with the intent of getting involved in the special teams game. Rees-Zammit will be making the trip to Kansas City to sign over the coming days and will be at training camp in St. Joseph come July.




Who is Louis Rees-Zammit?

US citizens generally do not know much about rugby, let alone Louis Rees-Zammit, so why is this such an intriguing signing for the Chiefs? Let's start by introducing Louis. Rees-Zammit played professionally as a wing in the English Premiership league for the Gloucester Cherry and Whites. He also played for the Welsh international team, making 31 appearances (known in rugby as "caps") and for the British and Irish Lions, an international touring club made up of English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish players.



In January of 2024, Rees-Zammit left rugby union to pursue a career in the NFL, joining the NFL International Player Pathway. He stands at 6-foot-3 inches and weighs in at 194 pounds. He's 23 years old and could potentially have a bright future ahead, something that is unfortunately a rarity for international players trying to make it to the NFL. Let's talk about why he may have a bright future though...




Why This Signing Could Be Big...

One of the big rule changes in the NFL was in kickoff procedure. You can read more about the other rule changes here, but diving into the changes to the kickoff procedure a little further, it has changed into something more akin to how the UFL (formerly XFL) does theirs. A diagram shown below gives an example:




Returners, however, are more free to move with this new rule, and teams will be able to strategize more with this new method of returning kicks. An example of how that can be taken advantage of is shown below:




Now we go back to Louis Rees-Zammit though. This kickoff procedure is more akin to a rugby-style kickoff, where returners have more freedom to make plays in the open field and set up strategy. It's not simply one guy runs at a wall hurdling toward him with rigid blocking, but a bit more nuance than that. With Rees-Zammit's skills as a wing, one of his biggest attributes is fielding and returning kicks. With this new rule change, the Chiefs have the ability to use him as almost a rugby wing in football, where he can make plays off a return and be plugged into specific situations. Not only that, but Rees-Zammit will also have the ability to be plugged into offensive playcalling as well with the skills that he has, potentially making another weapon for Patrick Mahomes.


When a world-class athlete with both professional and international experience is plugged into a championship system like the Chiefs have, the possibilities really are endless as to what the Chiefs can do with Rees-Zammit. His speed and ability to find open space could prove to be huge for both special teams and offensive scheming, he will just need a bit of coaching to get where the Chiefs will need him to be in order to be a factor. If nothing else, it will be a fun preseason story, but Louis Rees-Zammit has all the makings of an X-factor for the Chiefs...




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