Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales

Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales. Pic: Getty Images

Gloucester Shrug Shoulders Over Loss of Louis Rees-Zammit

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By Gareth James

Gloucester coach George Skivington believes that star wing Louis Rees-Zammit’s move to American football is not a “reflection on rugby”.

Rees-Zammit has rocked the rugby world by quitting a sport which brought him 32 Wales caps and a starring role for the British and Irish Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa.

Wales and Gloucester, though, must now prepare for life without their prolific try-scorer as he heads to the United States, where the NFL’s International Player Pathway awaits him in his quest to forge a new career.

Skivington, though, does not think the sport losing such a box-office figure will start alarm bells ringing.

“I don’t think there are many people who have actually left the sport, really,” he said.

“This happens very rarely – Christian Wade would be the last time someone tried to move in this direction.

“I don’t think it is anything to do with rugby, his (Rees-Zammit’s) decision. It is just something he has always wanted to do.

“I don’t think it is a reflection on rugby at all, I think it is one person’s dream and the opportunity is there.

“I don’t foresee many rugby players going in that direction as a result of it. If it doesn’t work out, he will be back in the game, but I don’t think it is any reflection on rugby itself.”

Skivington confirmed that Gloucester would have discussions with Rees-Zammit, who made his Premiership debut for them as an 18-year-old, if things do not work out in the US.

In the meantime, though, he must plot the remainder of Gloucester’s season without a player whose dazzling try-scoring ability won worldwide admirers.

“We would talk to ‘Zam’ if things fall through, but his mindset is that he won’t be coming back and I think he has to have that mindset to go and do what he is going to try and do,” Skivington added.

“If it all changes, we will see where we are at.

“We would always welcome him back. If he comes back to rugby of course there will be conversations but his mindset as of Monday was very much that he is moving on from rugby and he is going to rip into American football.

“He desperately wants to go and do it and we are not going to stand in the way of someone with what is a pretty unique opportunity.

“He is changing sport. If it doesn’t work out, he might come back to rugby, but his mindset is he is leaving rugby for good.

“He is definitely not taking it lightly. He has got a 10-week programme and then hopefully he gets selected and he gets his foot in the door.

“We all hope he makes it, because it will be a great story if he does.”

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