Dick Harmon: BYU football: Two Kiwi rugby players giving Cougar football a shot

Published: Thursday, March 8 2012 7:00 p.m. MST

"In football, a ball carrier has 10 other guys working for and with him. In rugby, you have guys spread out that you can pitch the ball to and you run on your own. In football you have to use your blockers, read gaps, get your timing down with footwork and understand plays and what the defense is doing. In rugby, the closest thing you have to blockers is the forwards who mainly block in scrums."

But what if a guy like Lasike is used primarily as a lead blocker in BYU's offense.

Same thing, says Tahi. There is a lot to learn.

"People think being a lead blocker is just to run into people, but there is a lot more to that as far as technique and covering up a defender. It has to do with pad level, hand placement and footwork. I spent five years in the NFL learning to be a lead blocker after playing running back in college and it was a tough position to learn."

Once a ball carrier gets the ball, it's a matter of reading his blockers, reading defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties. Also, ball security is huge, he can't just lateral the ball away and you carry the football different in rugby than in football.

Tahi says Forrester, or a rugby player playing on the defensive line, needs to learn the plays, schemes, how to come out of a three-point stance and work with other linemen, but it is an easier adjustment because rugby players do know how to tackle with their arms because they're trained to grab without pads.

"Rugby players are always very good tacklers," he said.

So, there you have it.

In a 2012 BYU spring practice that looks to be a "teaching" exercise with so many players sitting out with injuries and rehabbing from surgeries, the rugby duo is an interesting angle.

The two may or may not make an impact.

But they will be playing Saturday against Air Force in a rugby game that counts.

Email: dharmon@desnews.com

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