List of players who have converted from one football code to another
There are many players who have converted from one football code to another or even changed from other sports at a professional or representational level. In some cases, the player may also return to the original code, so the traffic is not merely one way.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom or Australia where multiple codes are popular and the practice of switching codes is relatively common they are known simply as a code convert. In Australia star code converts can have a substantial impact on the football codes. For instance, Dally Messenger's defection from rugby union to rugby league was considered a pivotal moment in the establishment of the latter code over other codes in Australia.
Globalisation is increasing the opportunities for players to transfer to different countries and to different professional sports, including the codes of football.
- 1 From American football
- 2 From Association football
- 3 From Australian rules football
- 4 From Canadian football
- 5 From Gaelic football
- 6 From rugby union
- 7 From rugby league
- 8 See also
- 9 References
From American football
American football to Canadian football
|This section requires expansion. (June 2010)|
Because American and Canadian football are both gridiron codes, they are very similar, and most players can easily change back and forth between the two codes without much difficulty. Below is only a partial list of players who have made the transition from the NFL to the CFL.
|Name||Country||Top American football level||Top Canadian football level||American Football debut||Canadian football debut|
American football to rugby league
|Name||Country||Top American Football Level||Top Rugby League Level||Top representation level|
|Manfred Moore||USA||NFL||New South Wales Rugby Football League||-|
|Philippe Gardent||France||NFL Europe||National League One||-|
American football to rugby union
|Name||Country||Top American football level||Top rugby union level||Top representation level|
|Bennie Brazell||USA||NFL (injured reserve)||USA sevens|
|Dave Hodges||USA||NCAA Division III||Celtic League||USA (15s)|
|Carlin Isles||USA||NFL (practice squad)||Pro12||USA sevens|
|Dan Lyle||USA||NCAA Division I FCS||English Premiership||USA (15s)|
|Leonard Peters||USA||NFL (practice squad)||USA Rugby Men's Club Division I||USA (7s and 15s)|
|Richard Tardits||France, later USA||NFL||Top 14||USA (15s)|
- Isles made the Detroit Lions practice squad late in the 2013 season, after having become a sevens international. However, he never appeared in an NFL game, and has since signed a professional contract in 15s.
- Tardits switched codes twice: to American football as a young adult, and back to rugby union after a brief NFL career. He played for Biarritz Olympique and the France under-21 national team before switching to American football, and played for the USA national team after returning to his original code.
American football to Australian rules football
|Name||Country||Top American Football Level||Top Australian rules football Level||Top representation level|
|Dwayne Armstrong||USA||NCAA Division I FBS||Australian Football League (reserves)||-|
From Association football
Association football to American football
Numerous American football placekickers grew up playing football (soccer); however, very few have competed at a very high level in their original code. A large number of the first "soccer-style" placekickers of the 1960s and early 1970s were Europeans and Latin Americans who changed codes in adulthood. Eventually, kickers who changed codes in adulthood were largely, though not completely, displaced by players who were either born and raised in the U.S. or immigrated to the U.S. at a relatively early age, thus receiving more exposure to American football than most of the first soccer-style placekickers.
Most of the women to have played men's American football have crossed over from soccer.
Association football to Gaelic football
|Name||Country||Top soccer Level||Top Gaelic football Level||Top representation level||Playing Era|
|Ciarán Lyng||Ireland||Preston North End F.C., Shrewsbury Town F.C., Ireland underage teams||Wexford senior football team||2000s|
|Shane Supple||Ireland||Ipswich Town F.C., Falkirk F.C.||Dublin senior football team||2000s|
|Anthony Tohill||Ireland||Derry City F.C., Manchester United F.C. Reserves||Derry senior football team||1990s, 2000s|
Association football to rugby union
- Luke McAlister, a New Zealand international rugby union footballer, grew up in the north-west of England and had a trial with Manchester United before converting to rugby union at an early age.
- The late Nevin Spence, former Ulster and Ireland A player, played for Northern Ireland under 16s before switching to rugby.
- Loreto Cucchiarelli former player-coach of the Italian rugby union team, played football for Lazio at a young age.
- Conrad Jantjes played for the youth national team of South Africa at soccer, rugby union and cricket.
- Brothers Kevin O'Flanagan and Mick O'Flanagan represented Ireland at both soccer and rugby union.
- Kenny Logan, Scottish rugby internationalist had Football trials as a goalkeeper for Dundee United and Hearts.
- England international Danny Cipriani played on the junior team of QPR and was offered a spot in Reading's youth setup before switching to rugby. Even after his switch, he has flirted with a return to association football, having trained with QPR, Tottenham, the Colorado Rapids, and most recently MK Dons.
- Melissa Ruscoe has not only represented New Zealand in both soccer and rugby union, but has captained both sides.
- Frank Hadden, Scottish rugby player and coach, had trials with both Queens Park Rangers and Forfar Athletic, as well as being offered a contract by Raith Rovers.
Association football to rugby league
|Name||Country||Top soccer Level||Top rugby league Level||Top representation level||Playing Era|
|Ted Bateson||England||Blackburn Rovers||Wakefield Trinity||none||1920s|
- St Helens RLFC players Steve Tyrer and Matty Smith were on the books at Wigan Athletic and Everton F.C. respectively. Tyrer was a goalkeeper and Smith was a midfielder, the latter appearing in the Everton reserve team on a few occasions.
From Australian rules football
Australian rules football to American football
Notably, the specialist American football punting role requires similar skills to those found in Australian football players.
|Name||Country||Top Aussie rules level||Top American football level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||American Football Debut|
|Pat O'Dea||Australia||VFA||College football||N/A||1890s||1896|
|Colin Ridgeway||Australia||VFL (reserves)||NFL||N/A||1960s||1965|
|Ben Graham||Australia||AFL||NFL||Australia (Inter-rules)||1992||2005|
|Nathan Chapman||Australia||AFL||NFL (rookie)||N/A||1992||2004|
|Scott Harding||Australia||AFL||Division I (NCAA)||N/A||2006||2011|
Australian rules football to Canadian football
|Name||Country||Top Aussie rules level||Top American football level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||American Football Debut|
|Josh Bartel||Australia||Ovens & Murray Football League||Canadian Football League||N/A||2012|
Australian rules football to Association football
The technique of kicking grubber goals and scissor kicking in Aussie Rules is similar to goal striking in soccer, and International Rules participation provides experience with the round ball and even goal keeping.
As well as the players below, some player have been known to have played amateur level soccer after retiring from the AFL include Gary Ablett, James Hird, Gavin Wanganeen, Glenn Manton and Ang Christou.
|Name||Country||Top Aussie rules level||Top Soccer level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||Soccer Debut|
|Peter Bevilaqua||Australia||VFL||Victorian Premier League||N/A||1953||1954|
|Angelo Lekkas||Australia||AFL with Hawthorn||Victorian Premier League with South Melbourne||Australia (Inter-rules)||1993||2005|
|Fred Agius||Australia||SANFL with Central Districts||A-League with North Queensland Fury||Olyroos||2003||2003|
Australian rules football to Gaelic football
Some players involved in the Irish Experiment to play professional Australian rules football returned to Ireland and went on to be notable in senior football. Such players have included:
|Name||Country||Top Australian Rules Level||Top Gaelic football Level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||Gaelic football Debut|
|Paul Earley||Ireland||AFL||All-Ireland Senior Football Championship||NA||1984||1985|
|Dermot McNicholl||Ireland||AFL||Derry All-Ireland winner 1993||NA||1989||1991|
|Anthony Tohill||Ireland||Melbourne Demons reserves||Derry senior football team||Ireland (Inter-rules)||1990||1991|
|Brian Stynes||Ireland||AFL||Dublin All-Ireland winner 1995||Ireland (Inter-rules), Ireland (AR)||1992||1995|
|Tadhg Kennelly||Ireland||AFL premiership 2005||Kerry All-Ireland winner 2009||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2001||2009|
Australian rules football to rugby union
As in rugby league and Australian rules, early in the history of the two codes in Australia the two codes were interchangeable. There is a much greater divide today. Jason Akermanis was the first professional Australian football player to suggest a switch to rugby union. Nevertheless, there are still some positions and roles that have commonalities. Also at amateur level, conversion is quite common, as in the case of many start-up Australian Rules clubs in countries such as France and developing Aussie Rules countries such as New Zealand and Samoa where there are dual-internationals at junior level.
|Name||Country||Top Aussie rules Level||Top rugby union Level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||Rugby Union Debut|
|Nick Evans||New Zealand||Falcons Under 21||All Blacks||New Zealand U21 (AR), New Zealand (RU)|
|Rambo Tavana||Samoa||Samoa||Manu Samoa||Samoa (AR), Samoa (RU)|
|Mikaele Pesamino||Samoa||Samoa||Manu Samoa and Manu Sevens||Samoa (AR), Samoa (RU)||2002||2007|
|Alec Boswell Timms||Australia/Scotland||Victorian Football Association||Scotland/British Isles||Scotland/British Isles (RU)|
|Reg Morrison||Australia/Scotland||Geelong||Scotland/British Isles||Scotland/British Isles (RU)|
|Israel Folau||Australia||Greater Western Sydney||New South Wales||Australia (RU)||2011||2013|
|Karmichael Hunt||New Zealand/Australia||Gold Coast||Queensland Reds||Barbarian F.C.||2011||2009-2010
|Stanis Susuve||Papua New Guinea||Gold Coast
Papua New Guinea
|Papua New Guinea sevens||Papua New Guinea||-||2014|
Australian rules football to rugby league
Early in the history of the two codes in Australia, players would interchange the codes and even had discussions of merging them into a single game. Rugby league has since evolved to specialise in physicality and body type making it more difficult for successful conversion between the two, although it does sometimes happen at junior level and in areas where both codes are played. League great Darren Lockyer played Aussie Rules at a junior level in Queensland, as did Marcus Bai in Papua New Guinea. Players of both codes at Junior levels have included Peter Sterling (League) and Paul Kelly (AFL). Greg Brentnall played Australian Football in Riverina in the 1960s before turning down an offer to play in the VFL/AFL and switching to rugby league taking up a contract with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 1972.
|Name||Country||Top Aussie rules Level||Top rugby league Level||Top representation level||Aussie Rules Debut||Rugby League Debut|
|Barry Spring||Australia||QAFL (Mayne)||QRL (Norths)||QRL First Grade premiership|
|Adrian Barich||Australia||AFL||ARL reserve grade||NSW, WA (AR)|
From Canadian football
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
Canadian football to American football
Because American and Canadian football are both gridiron codes, they are very similar, and most players can easily change back and forth between the two codes without much difficulty. Below is only a partial list of players who have made the transition from the CFL to the NFL.
|Name||Country||Top Canadian football level||Top American football level|
From Gaelic football
Gaelic football is especially vulnerable to code-switching, for reasons outlined by rugby union journalist Hugh Farrelly in 2009:
|“||The parochialism that is the GAA's greatest strength (every village in Ireland has a local team) is also its Achilles heel for, with no viable international outlet, the Association is vulnerable to other sports. Furthermore, a strict adherence to its amateur code means talented youngsters can be lured away from the game they grew up with... by the prospect of pay for play....||”|
Gaelic football to Association football
- Jack Kirwan (Dublin GAA) / St James Gate, Tottenham Hotspur & Everton F.C.
- Val Harris (Dublin GAA) / Shelbourne & Everton FC
- Con Martin (Dublin GAA) / Leeds United, Aston Villa
Gaelic football to Australian rules football
Like rugby union and league, the two codes share similarities, making switching between them a possibility. International rules representation for players of both codes is common. The Gaelic Athletic Association prohibits professionalism, meaning that there is a financial lure for players to compete in the professional elite Aussie Rules competitions in Australia.
|Name||Country||Top Gaelic level||Top Aussie rules level||Top representation level||Gaelic football Debut||Aussie Rules Debut|
|Sean Wight||Scotland||Kerry minor (Under-18)||AFL||NA||1982||1985|
|Paul Earley||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||VFL||NA||1982||1984|
|Dermot McNicholl||Ireland||Derry All-Ireland winner 1993||AFL||NA||1980||1990|
|Brian Stynes||Ireland||Dublin All-Ireland winner 1995||AFL||Ireland (Inter-rules), Ireland (AR)||198?||1992|
|Jim Stynes||Ireland||Dublin All-Ireland (Minor) winner 1994||AFL (Brownlow Medallist)||Ireland (Inter-rules)||1984||1987|
|Tadhg Kennelly||Ireland||Kerry All-Ireland winner 2009||AFL premiership 2005||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2001-|
|Colm Begley||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||AFL||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2006-|
|Martin Clarke||Ireland||Down All-Ireland (Minor) winner 2005||AFL||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2005-|
|Pearce Hanley||Ireland||Mayo GAA||AFL||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2008-|
|Michael Quinn||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||AFL||N/A||2009-|
|Kevin Dyas||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||AFL||N/A||2009-|
|Jamie O'Reilly||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||AFL||N/A||2010-|
|Zach Tuohy||Ireland||Gaelic Athletic Association||AFL||Ireland (Inter-rules)||2011-|
|Caolan Mooney||Ireland||Down GAA||AFL||N/A||2012-|
Gaelic football to Rugby Union
Up until the mid-1990s, both codes were officially amateur. However the professionalisation of rugby union has provided a financial lure.
NB: Byrne changed codes twice. He first switched to rugby union as a teenager, then returned to Gaelic football after a long professional rugby career. This entry discusses his Gaelic football career before his first code switch.
Gaelic football to Rugby league
|Name||Country||Top Gaelic football level||Top rugby league Level||Top representation level|
|Brian Carney||Ireland||Local football team||Super League / NRL||Great Britain (RL)|
From rugby union
Rugby union to Association football
|Name||Country||Top rugby union Level||Top association football Level||Top representation level||Playing Era|
|J.W. Sutcliffe||England||Bradford F.C./Heckmondwike||Bolton Wanderers/Manchester United||England (both)||1880s/1910s|
|Adam Holloway||England||Henley Hawks/
|Strathcona Terriers FC||England/New Zealand/Canada||2000s|
|Tony Ward||Ireland||Munster/Ireland/British and Irish Lions||Shamrock Rovers/Limerick United||British and Irish Lions||1970s and 1980s|
|Tommy Moroney||Ireland||Munster||West Ham United||Republic of Ireland||1940s|
|Aaron Ramsey||Wales||Caerphilly RFC (youth team)||Cardiff City/Arsenal||Wales||2000s|
|Henry Renny-Tailyour||Scotland||Scotland||Royal Engineers A.F.C.||Scotland||1870s, 1880s|
|Martín Terán||Argentina||Tucumán Rugby Club, Nacional de Clubes||Atlético Tucumán||Argentina||1996-1997|
|Ted Bateson||England||Yorkshire, Skipton RFC||Blackburn Rovers||Yorkshire (RU)||1920s|
Rugby union to Gaelic football
|Name||Country||Top rugby union Level||Top Gaelic football Level||Top representation level||Playing Era|
|Shane Byrne||Ireland||Leinster Rugby, Ireland, British and Irish Lions||Aughrim GAA||1990s, 2000s|
|Eric Miller||Ireland||Old Wesley, Leicester Tigers, Leinster, the Barbarians, Ireland, British and Irish Lions||Dublin senior football team||Dublin senior football team||1990s, 2000s|
Rugby league / rugby union
Two of the closest codes, they share some similar skills. Until 1995 union was "officially amateur" and union players were offered money to switch codes. That trend has since reversed. Conversion from one code to the other is more difficult for forwards rather than backs where the similarities are most adjacent. It is worth noting that several players, including Iestyn Harris and Mat Rogers, have converted between the two codes on more than one occasion.
Rugby union to rugby league
Rugby union to American football
Rugby union and American football share the same origins, but have evolved into very different games. Both are very physical and require similar body types.
Rugby union to Australian rules football
In recent years, several schoolboy rugby union players have made a transition to Australian Rules, including Ray Smith (Queensland Under 19), Jim Stynes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Aaron Edwards, Adam Campbell (New Zealand Under 15), Daniel Merrett, Brad Moran (West Midlands (England) Under 16) and Tom Williams (Queensland Under 16).
In 2012, Canadian Mike Pyke became the first former professional rugby player to win an AFL premiership.
|Name||Country||Top Rugby union||Top Aussie rules level||Top representation level||Rugby Union Debut||Australian Rules Debut|
|Mike Pyke||Canada||Top 14 (France)||AFL premiership 2012, Sydney Swans||Canada (rugby)||2002||2009|
|Karmichael Hunt||New Zealand, Australia||Top 14, Biarritz Olympique||AFL, Gold Coast||2009||2011|
From rugby league
Rugby league to rugby union
While the traffic used to be almost entirely from rugby union to rugby league, the tide has now turned the other way, and numerous rugby league players have gone over to union, since the game was professionalised.
Rugby league to Australian rules football
In recent years, several junior and schoolboy rugby league players have made a transition to Australian rules, including Wayne Carey, Paul Kelly, Kieren Jack, Michael McLean, Andrew McLeod, Jared Brennan, Matthew Whelan, and Sam Gilbert.
|Name||Country||Top rugby league level||Top Aussie Rules level||Top representation level||Rugby League Debut||Australian Rules Debut|
|Ray Smith||Australia||Queensland Rugby League||VFL||Queensland (RL)||1970||1971|
|Fabian Francis||Australia||Northern Territory Rugby League||Australian Football League||Northern Territory (RL) / Aboriginal All-Stars (AR)||1992||1993|
|Karmichael Hunt||Australia||National Rugby League||Australian Football League||Australian Kangaroos (RL)||2004||2009|
|Israel Folau||Australia||National Rugby League||Australian Football League||Australian Kangaroos||2007||2010|
Rugby League to American football
|Name||Country||Top Rugby league level||Top American football level||Top representation level||Rugby league Debut||American football Debut|
|Jarryd Hayne||Australia||National Rugby League (with Parramatta)||National Football League (with San Francisco)||Australian Kangaroos / Fiji Bati||2006||TBD|
- Comparison of American football and Canadian football
- Comparison of American football and rugby union
- Comparison of American football and rugby league
- Comparison of Canadian football and rugby union
- Comparison of Australian rules football and Gaelic football
- Comparison of Gaelic football and rugby union
- Comparison of rugby union and rugby league
- List of Australian rules footballers and cricketers
- List of cricket and rugby union players
- List of cricket and rugby league players
- Globalisation and the future of indigenous football codes. Lionel Frost. Economic Society of Australia. 2004
- "Player Profiles — Melissa Ruscoe". New Zealand Rugby Union. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- Lothian, Bill (16 May 2005). "Hadden can follow in my footsteps, says Dwyer". scotsman.com. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
- http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/sport/afl/story/0,26547,23541454-5016212,00.html Wanga's new passion
- Newtown and Chilwell Football Netball Club sportingpulse.com
- The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Wednesday 20 December 1922 newspapers.nla.gov.au
- Australian Rules Football and Rugby League merger
- The Midas Touch by Paul Malone from couriermail.com.au
- Farrelly, Hugh (2009-09-15). "The most progressive team in Ireland". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2010-01-28. In this piece, Farrelly also dismisses the International Rules series as a viable international outlet, stating that it "is popular with the combatants but has never captured the public's imagination."
- "Begley warns Aussies are watching". GAA http://www.gaa.ie. 2006-01-03. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- Note: first player to play for both national teams post RU professional era
- Wayne Carey: Hell and back by CHARLES HAPPELL for The Age June 3, 2010
- Let's chase Johnathan Thurston for AFL: Paul Kelly by Todd Balym for The Daily Telegraph January 21, 2010 12:00AM
- Poaching league players worth it: Jack for ABC Grandstand Sport June 25, 2010
- Folau will deliver by GREY MORRIS for Northern Territory News June 3rd, 2010
- Defender Sam Gilbert helps lead St Kilda charge towards AFL Premiership Andrew Hamilton for The Courier-Mail September 24, 2009
- first Queenslander to play 100 AFL games
- Jarryd Hayne joins NFL's San Francisco 49ers on a futures contract James Macsmith for the Sydney Morning Herald March 3, 2015