Press release: Derick Hougaard sets his sights on turning tries into NFL touchdowns
Johannesburg, 4 November 2020 - Ex-Springbok flyhalf and ace kicker Derick Hougaard, once the Liefling of Loftus as a Blue Bulls player, will be turning out at the World Wide Scholarships (WWS) December talent scouting camp as he grabs the opportunity to switch sporting codes from Rugby to American football.
Hougaard, who still holds the record for the number of points scored in a Currie Cup final (26) as well as points scored in a Super Rugby semi-final (27 against the Crusaders), made his debut for the Springboks at age 20 and enjoyed success for the Boks, the Bulls, Leicester Tigers and Saracens in the UK before having his career cut short by serious injury in 2013. He retired from all rugby in 2015.
Hougaard said that when he heard that WWS was hosting a mega-talent scouting camp in December and bringing out American football talent identification experts from the United States, he just knew he had to be part of the camp.
WWS is the world’s leading African talent linkage organisation, helping international sporting clubs and universities discover young talent on the continent for potentially lucrative opportunities overseas.
This year’s WWS talent scouting camp (WWS Scout Camp 2020) will feature American football talent identification for the first time in Africa and will allow local athletes who believe they have the right skills to make it in the NCAA or the NFL to go through a series of non-contact drills to show their ability.
Alongside NFL talent scouts will be Bart Schoeman, WWS director of rugby and former high-performance manager of the Lions rugby franchise. Bart is a well-respected talent identification and development personality in South Africa with links to both professional rugby franchises and the NFL in the United States.
“I had a great 14 years as a rugby player, but when any athlete has their career cut short by injury there is unfinished business. Playing sport professionally is a way of life and every professional athlete would prefer to end their career on their own terms. I have played rugby all over the world and ending my career as an American football player in the United States would be a great win for me,” says Hougaard.
Hougaard believes he has at least another five years of top-level playing within him. “All athletes dream of a second chance and this is mine. There are no guarantees in sports, and the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me to not leave my dreams to chance and to rather be but as proactive as possible – I have already ordered a full kit from the US and have begun training to be fit and ready for the trials,” he says.
Hougaard was first encouraged to take up gridiron while playing at Saracens in the UK, because of his strong kicking ability. “American football is famous for being a precise game with little margin for error, which is why they demand incredible kicking accuracy. My injury interrupted any initial thoughts of playing in the NFL, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to finally try out for this exciting and highly competitive sport.”
WWS CEO Munya Maraire says it is a great honour to have an athlete of Hougaard’s calibre attending the talent camp. “This year has been disastrous for all sports stars who have dreamed of being scouted by the world’s most famous clubs, so I think this year’s talent scouting camp takes on special significance. It will give local Soccer, Basketball, Rugby and American Football hopefuls a chance to audition in front of some of the world’s foremost clubs, such as AC Milan, NCAA and NBA basketball teams and South African rugby franchises.”
Maraire, born in Zimbabwe, has personal experience of chasing the NFL dream and knows how difficult it can be without the right events and opportunities being presented. “The unique opportunity for athletes to possibly land contracts playing in the NFL – the world’s most lucrative sporting code – is truly opening new doors for African athletes. We are very excited about the start of this new chapter in African talent recruitment,” he says.
The WWS Scout Camp 2020 will be held from 14 – 18 December at Camp Discovery, 60km from Pretoria. Interested athletes can sign up at www.wwsscoutcamp.com