U.S. Olympic rugby superstars Perry Baker and Carlin Isles were not always rugby players. In fact, they were both gritty football players who learned the nuanced changes necessary to succeed on the rugby pitch.

Baker discussed his prior football experience, as well as the similarities and differences when suiting up for rugby:

“I played wide receiver in high school, I also went to college and played wide receiver there, and I’ll say the transition was pretty similar. I mean, like, you have to be able to have a good agility in football – same in rugby; you have to be able to think in football – same in rugby. The only difference was for me was the contact part, which was the tackling part, and rugby you actually have to form tackle meaning you actually have to wrap up your opponent and you lead with your shoulder, and football that wasn’t the case you know, like you just dived to take someone’s legs out and stuff so that was like my biggest transition part.”

Isles also documented his prior football stardom, and all of the changes that came along with transitioning to rugby:

“For me, with going into rugby … I played running back through college, in high school running back and cornerback a little bit, and I think for me my biggest transition was probably just I used to lead with my head a lot and in rugby, you can’t and when I first lead with my head I got a concussion. So just the tackling and then going into contact and then also the conditioning; the conditioning was probably the roughest because you’re running fast in a short amount of time so you’re a real big anaerobic system have to be very strong and then look and then football that, you know, you may … play four or five seconds and you get a longer break, but in rugby, it’s not like that. You may get 30-45 seconds rest and then you got to go back again.”

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