Olympic hurdler Jack Green trains with Newcastle Falcons rugby club

London 2012 athlete tries his hand at oval-ball game with training stint at Kingston Park

David Jones/PA Wire Olympic hurdler Jack Green
Olympic hurdler Jack Green

Olympic hurdler Jack Green has been training with Newcastle Falcons, throwing up the intriguing possibility of a move into professional rugby.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards insists any such switch is a long way off yet, but acknowledges the 22-year-old has the pace and even the skills to potentially make a go of it.

Richards said: “Jack played a lot of rugby when he was younger, and he wanted to see where he was.

“He came up and trained with us for a couple of days, and it was interesting to see how he went.

“He only did a few sessions and is not here at the moment, but it was good to see how he trained and to see a different kind of player.”

Green was a key part of the Great Britain squad which finished a close fourth in the 4 x 400m relay at London 2012, but fell in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles in his individual event.

That led to him leaving the British Athletics High Performance Funding programme due to stress-related reasons, with rugby one of the potential avenues for the Kent-based flyer to explore.

Richards said: “There is no doubt about it – the guy is quick!

“Obviously you would expect that given his background, as you would the fact he was a little bit rusty with his rugby. But if he wants to play and if we can help him, then we will try to help him.”

Having put him in the mix with first-team training, the Falcons boss said: “Jack did well.

“He played rugby at school up until 17 or 18 and then had to decide between sports, so he went with athletics.

“The perception sometimes is that you can go from one sport to another relatively easily, but I’m pretty sure our boys couldn’t become athletes overnight.

“The same obviously applies the other way round, but there is no doubt that certain elements in Jack’s make-up are very attractive to a rugby coach.

“His speed is understandably excellent, and he is not too far off in terms of his ability.”

As to what happens next, while there are no firm plans Richards says he would be more than happy for Newcastle to play a part in Green’s rugby reintegration.

“The most important thing is to get some rugby into his legs, which is what he needs,” said the former England and Lions great.

“If we can do that and keep an eye on him then we will do, but it will be a long-term thing rather than chucking him straight into a Falcons team or anything like that.”

Speaking in the aftermath of his Olympic campaign, Green told BBC Kent: “It still haunts me. I feel I didn’t even give myself the opportunity. I’m not going to let that happen again. You learn. I don’t want to be in a sport where I don’t believe I can be the best.

“As much as it’s a good life, we train very hard. I wouldn’t put myself through that if I thought I was going to be an extra. I wouldn’t waste my time doing it.”

Should he eventually make the transition, Green would not be the first athletics prospect to don the Falcons’ jersey.

Lock-forward Jason Oakes was a javelin thrower for Great Britain at international student level, going on to spend two seasons as a professional rugby forward before being forced to retire through injury.

Centre Tane Tu’ipulotu was a pole-vaulter prior to taking up full-time rugby, winning the New Zealand National Schools title and competing for Tonga at the Oceania Games in a national athletics squad also containing fellow Falcon Epi Taione.

Current Newcastle prop Scott Wilson hit Scottish national qualifying criteria as an aspiring hammer-thrower before specialising in rugby, although none have hit the athletic heights to the same extent of prospective convert Green.

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