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A rugby team with a difference

Rugby union is quite a unique sport… Different to the well-known American sports – like baseball, basketball and American football – and very different to other ball sports like cricket, tennis or golf. With that in mind, we have done some code-swapping… with a difference.

Given their players’ superb aerial skills and physicality, what would an Australian Football League star do in rugby union?

How about the fastest sprinter in the world at present?

Some current international sportsmen have played provincial rugby at youth level, so playing rugby again would be easy. Add in golf, basketball and sumo wrestling…

We’ve thought about it all in a bid to compile a rugby team with a difference:

(15) Josh Kennedy (AFL):
A handy kicker, who slotted 59 goals during last year’s AFL season for West Coast, he also showed his strength in the air for his team; taking 15 marks in one match. Pepper him with high balls at your peril!

(14) Usain Bolt (Athletics):
Give him the ball and he will score. Boasting a ‘nippy’ 9.58-second 100-metre time – not to mention his 94-kilogram frame, and standing 1,96 metres in his socks – Bolt would be a serious handful on the rugby field (going forward, of course).

(13) Rangi Chase (Rugby league):
New Zealand-born Chase plays stand-off, scrumhalf or hooker in rugby league (where he plays for the England national team), but we have chosen him at outside centre for his ability to break tackles and, of course, his distribution. After all, he simply has to get the ball out to Bolt!

(12) Roger Federer (Tennis):
The brains of the backline and born to a South African mother; he already has rugby coursing through his veins. His temperament in the crucial inside centre channel would be invaluable to those on his outside.

(11) Sebastian Vettel (F1):
The fastest man on four wheels will add some German precision to our backline from the left-wing.

(10) AB de Villiers (Cricket):
A former provincial schoolboy rugby star – where he partnered Bok stalwart Fourie du Preez at halfback – the classy Proteas batsman could just be the playmaker needed to fire our team. (He just edges out Herschelle Gibbs due to his age – we’re building a team here, after all.)

(9) Aaron Rodgers (NFL):
One of the leading quarterbacks in the NFL at present, his passing game has seen the Green Bay Packers score over 500 points; one of just two teams to achieve that this season. The Packers have lost just one game – from 15 starts – so far, with Rodgers being favoured to walk off with the MVP Award this season. (Of course, we just need to teach him to pass backwards!)

(8) Kieron Pollard (Cricket):
At 1,96 metres, Pollard brings height and mobility to the back row, as well as plenty all-round skill as we’ve seen from him on the cricket oval – mainly at T20 level.

(7) Rafael Nadal (Tennis):
The man from Majorca is one of the fittest men in world sport. He will chase the loose ball all day long… Watch out Pocock and McCaw!

(6) Ernie Els (Golf):
The ‘Big Easy’ is a laidback character but very serious about his rugby and one of the Springboks’ biggest fans. Expect him to play the Schalk Burger role… hard as nails on the field, but every bit the tourist off the park and a big favourite amongst opponents and fans for his approach to the game.

(5) Peter Crouch (Soccer):
At 2,01m, and with superb aerial skills on the soccer field, Crouch will play the Matfield-like role in the side and control the line-outs. A bit light… but a whole-hearted competitor with a great sense of humour off the field. (Ed. He was voted the ‘Funniest man in British sport’ in 2010 – read here.)

(4) LeBron James (Basketball):
As if Crouch’s height is not enough, James brings another 2,03 metres to the party and a hefty 113 kilograms too. Mobile and powerful in the air, the American basketball star could redefine second row play!

(3) Asashoryu Akinori (Sumo wrestler):
According to Wikipedia, “he was the 68th yokozuna in the history of the sport in Japan and became the first Mongol to reach sumo’s highest rank in January 2003. In 2005 he became the first man to win all six official tournaments (honbasho) in a single year”. Oh, he also weighs 148 kilograms and stands 1,84 metres tall… He will anchor our scrum and will not be moved!

(2) Tiger Woods (Golf):
Given the size of his black book, we thought he could easily get to grips with the intricacies of playing with… oops… playing at hooker.

(1) Dwayne Leverock (Cricket):
One of the characters from the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, his canny left-arm spinners and wild celebrations saw spectators take an instant liking to him. Like his front row partner, Akinori, Leverock also tips the scales at well over 100 kilograms – at about 140kg to be exact.

Coach – José Mourinho (Soccer):
How much fun would press conferences be with him in the mix? Move over P Divvy and Marc Lièvremont, we’ve found your – wackier – replacement. After all, he is the Chosen One.

Referee – Pierluigi Collina (Soccer):
Cool, calm and always collected… imagine this man with those steely eyes and shaven head in charge of a rugby match?

By Howard Kahn

* Like the look of this team with a difference? Do you have a side that could beat ours? Let us know below.

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