Botha has no regrets about his failed NFL career bid as young bloods make the crossover
IN 1983 Naas Botha left South Africa and rugby to try to make it in the US as a place kicker in American football.
The day he was meant to try out for the Chicago Bears, the field was frozen. He tried the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next but they had never heard of the Springbok flyhalf.
After a call from a Dallas Cowboys scout, Botha went to try out and did quite well. He was called to the Cowboys training camp and played a few pre-season games but didn’t secure a place with the team.
I hung around in Dallas and played for the Dallas Harlequins, and we won the national champion- ship,” Botha said. “So I was part of at least one team of Dallas winning the national championship.”
This was the Quins’ only national championship.
Though rugby and its gridiron offshoot differ greatly in their rules and styles of play, coaches from both sports have recently made efforts to try to see what aspects of the other sports they can bring in to improve their programme.
“I think rugby will be able to see why football does it the way it does,” said Rex Norris, the head of football for Atavus, a company in Seattle that seeks to grow rugby’s profile in the US.