It has been almost a fortnight since the first National Rugby Football League combine and the response has been extremely positive. In early April. Over 100 athletes descended upon Minnesota in attempt to impress rugby scouts, both American and overseas. Every demographic was preset, from all walks of life and backgrounds, some with international experience, some with club rugby experience and everything in between. The largest proportion had football experience, with NFL veterans rubbing shoulders with college prospects that never found their break.
The purpose of this meeting was to identify players for the upcoming Independence Cup squad as well as get the players in attendance some exposure to international scouts who don’t normally make it to America, with details on the squad expected in the coming weeks.
All of those details are in the pipeline and will be covered here, but for now, I have interviewed some of those in attendance to gauge their reaction to the combine.
“We were extremely happy with the attitude and response from the players,” said NRFL Director of Player Recruitment Shawn Zobel.
“My overall experience with the NRFL Combine was refreshing, focused, and challenging at the same time,” said Adoni’Yah Sinai, who played football at Northern Iowa. “I cannot emphasize enough the camaraderie that was established amongst the participants, who come from all over the map, different sports, and diverse backgrounds. If you did not know that there was a combine happening, you would have thought we were all part of One Team.”
“My experience this weekend was amazing to say the least,” said combine participant Darryl Blair who played linebacker in college. “Learning a little more about the sport on the field doesn’t compare to what I learned about it off the field. The camaraderie between the players is unexplainable!”
“It was a good experience overall to me,” said Anthony Alix who played rugby in France before moving to Canada to play in the CFL. “It was well-organized, Shawn and his team did a very good job of preparation and it was a success.”
“We were very happy with how it turned out as an event and for us,” said combine sponsor and CEO of Champion System Scott Kaylin. “Our business plan has been very non-traditional. We looked at what they were doing and found it interesting. The NRFL follows in line with our mentality of stepping outside of the box. There is a brotherhood in this sport that is very enticing to me personally and to our business.”