BYU's 'Jonny Rugby' authors famous play, gives football a try

Published: Monday, May 12 2014 10:55 a.m. MDT

For two weeks he tried to play cornerback as a member of the scout team.

“I had a go at playing cornerback. I think corner is one of the toughest positions to learn,” Linehan said. “The receivers are so quick and the quarterbacks are so smart. Before you even look, the ball’s in the air, and it’s already in the receiver’s hands pretty much. You have to be able to backpedal almost as fast as the receivers are sprinting. You have to know when to turn, know when to cut. You have to learn all of the terminology in the film session. It was hard for me to grasp. I just tried to keep the receivers in front of me. If they made the first down, it was all right — as long as they didn’t get a touchdown. I was terrible, but it was a fun experience.”

BYU star wide receiver Cody Hoffman was injured during Linehan's stint with the football team. But Linehan did face the likes of Ross Apo, Mitch Mathews and Kurt Henderson.

“I have so much respect for them. It’s fun to have respect from the football guys,” he said. “Now and then they’ll call me ‘Jonny Rugby.’ I never had that nickname until after I was with the football team. It’s pretty fun. I think that drop kick earned me some respect. They probably treated me a little differently than they would other walk-ons. I knew a little about the sport, but not all the terminology. I didn’t know corner was as difficult as it was.”

Due to some conflicts, he was unable to remain with the team. But he said he would like another opportunity to play football again.

“I loved it. It was tough. It’s a big commitment,” he said. “I’d definitely do it again if it works out. Who knows?”

Apparently, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall likes having rugby players on the roster. Lasike, who is also from New Zealand, came to BYU to play rugby. He has also played running back for the Cougar football team the past two seasons.

“Coach Mendenhall’s dad was a mission president in New Zealand,” Linehan said. “He loves his rugby. He loves the rugby team."

Maybe Linehan would be more suited as a kicker. While he missed a few conversions in last Saturday’s game against Cal, he had an 80-meter clearance kick (similar to a punt in football).

For now, Linehan has made his mark in Provo as a rugby player.

BYU football has The Pass. BYU basketball has The Drive. And, thanks to Linehan, BYU rugby has The Drop Kick.

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