RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby's George Smith leaves club to pursue career in American Football - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby's George Smith leaves club to pursue career in American Football

Coventry Editorial 24th Jan, 2024   0

GEORGE Smith has left Coventry Rugby with immediate effect in order to pursue a career in American Football.

The 6ft 9in lock approached the club requesting an early release from his contract to join the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program which includes Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit.

Smith arrived at the Butts Park Arena from Bristol-based junior club Old Redcliffians ahead of the 2022/23 campaign and went on to make 28 appearances, the last of which came from the bench at Ealing.

Coventry head coach Alex Rae, said: “George has been presented with a very ‘left field’ opportunity to go and trial for the NFL through their international pathway.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting him to come and tell me but he’s seeing it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s based in the USA and completely different so you can’t knock him for giving it a go.

“George acknowledges that the odds are stacked against him but we wish him well and hope it works out.




“As a club we always have the players’ best interests at heart. We will always help them better themselves on and off the field when possible so we were never going to stand in his way.

“He was quite raw when he arrived, we worked hard with him and were starting to see some development so we’re disappointed to see him leave.


“It’s also left a hole in our squad which we’ll possibly need to look at.”

Smith arrived at Cov as a ‘project player’ whose mobility and height caught the eye of Rae and his coaching team despite his relative lack of experience.

He has since made good strides and the BPA faithful will in particular remember his brace of tries during this season’s Championship opener against Caldy.

Smith’s departure leaves Cov with the experienced James Tyas plus the youthful pairing of former Saracen Obi Nkwocha and Rhys Anstey, who is on a season-long loan from Ealing, to contest two second row berths.

Jack Bartlett and Tiki Nayalo have also both packed down in the engine room on occasions despite being specialists in the no.8 role so Rae has a number of viable alternatives.

Should Cov seek a replacement for Smith, their options appear to be either another long-term loan player from a Premiership academy or a permanent signing.

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