Another blog has come our way courtesy of our new friends over at E.N.S following on from the review of the weekends 6 nations as John Inverdale saw it. This time is Tom Newell introducing us to the success stories of cross code league/union players in the wake of Bath's blockbuster deal for Sam Burgess!
Dual-Coders – How Do They Fare?
This week it was announced that rugby league star, Sam Burgess, would be making the switch from rugby league to rugby union. The South Sydney Rabbitoh’s back row prop forward has signed for AVIVA Premiership outfit Bath and is expected to take up a position in the centre as he pushes for a World Cup place. He has a fearsome reputation in League and it is exciting to see whether that will transfer into the slower Union format.
Burgess’ decision is not an uncommon one, with players regularly changing codes, sometimes multiple times, under the advise of family, coaches and Sports Management Agencies. With that in mind Sport PR company,ENS, has looked at how some of the other dual-coders got on after their switch.
Ashton played 50 times for Wigan Warriors, scoring 30 tries, before his switch to Union and Northampton Saints in 2007. He has gone on to play 136 times for both Northampton and current club Saracens, notching 102 tries. Capped at international level for both League and Union, the Union side have never lost a test when he has scored.
Sonny Bill Williams
Only the second New Zealander to have represented the country in Union having previously represented them in League, Williams has had a long and distinguished career in both codes. Having already switched twice, he plans to change a third time in 2015 when he will sign for Chiefs from League side, Sydney Roosters. He has won titles in both codes including the Rugby Union World Cup with New Zealand in 2011.
Arguable the most successful ‘code breaker’ on our list, Robinson had already made over 300 club appearances over a nine-year period in rugby league, before his switch to Union in 2000. He had already dabbled in Union four-years earlier, taking advantage of a change in the game’s structure to play for Bath, after rugby league moved from a winter sport to a summer one. After his permanent switch to Sale Sharks he made a further 150+ club appearances. Another to be capped internationally in both codes, Robinson was part of the victorious 2003 England Rugby World Cup team, scoring a try in the final. His selection for the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, confirmed his quality across both rugby sports.
A player to move in the opposite direction, Davies had mixed success within the two codes. Starting in the Welsh Union system, he was made captain of Neath and eventually captain of Wales, where he carried the side in their disastrous 1988 tour of New Zealand. Facing pressure to commit himself to the sport, Davies decided instead to transfer to League side Widnes, after 11 years in Union and with 37 caps for Wales. He would go on to amass over 350 appearances and over 1300 points in rugby league, the majority of which with Widnes. A later return to Union in 1997 was not successful as he took time to readjust to life with the Cardiff Blues, with many speculating the team were against his decision to change codes.
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