Jaco set to scrum with Boatmen

He has done some modelling and acting, but Jaco Booyens wants to be a pro football player after a rugby career in South Africa.

The 30-year-old Johannesburg native, who has worked out for the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, begins his first training camp today as a punter/kicker candidate for the Argos.

“The Canadian game actually suits a rugby player better because of the size of the field, a couple of the kicking laws and a couple of the tackling rules. It’s very similar,” he said.

“I’ve played professional rugby and done a number of things and been involved in the acting realm and I’ve never met an organization where the guys are so open-minded to really exploring each player’s full potential.”

His chances of cracking the roster are slim because of Noel Prefontaine, who begins his ninth season with Toronto.

“They have Pre. He’s a great kicker, his record speaks for itself and I’m going to do my best in the kicking realm, but I’m going to do what I can on special teams,” he said. “If I can help the Argos in any form, that’ll be great.”

Booyens is listed as a non-import because he has never played organized football. It could work to his advantage for developmental purposes, but Argos assistant general manager Greg Mohns said the neophyte has to prove he can perform under fire.

“The only thing you can do that is to bring him into camp and take a look,” Mohns said. “He has got some ability. The next step is to really evaluate him in a real football situation.”

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2 comments for “Jaco set to scrum with Boatmen

  1. avatar
    May 19, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    The Canadian Football League is worlds apart from the Currie Cup but former South African rugby player Jaco Booyens is looking to find a home with the Toronto Argonauts.

    The 29-year-old from Johannesburg signed with the Argos on Tuesday and will be in camp in May as a kicker. The six-foot-two 200-pounder has never played a down of football, but has worked out for Tampa Bay and San Francisco and says those sessions tested him.

    “I have been put in game situations where I have a full line in front of me with a charge coming, multiple times, although it wasn’t in a formal match setting,” he said Tuesday from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

    Greg Mohns, the Argos director of player personnel, sees Booyens as prospect with good skills. He doesn’t expect Booyens to chase incumbent Noel Prefontaine but says the South African has a good leg and lots of potential.

    “The next step is to see how he’s going to perform with a football uniform on and live bullets flying at him,” Mohns said.

    Whatever happens, Booyens will make training camp more interesting.

    “He’s quite a character,” Mohns said.

    Plus the CFL deems Booyens a non-import, because he has never played football and has no formal training in it.

    Booyens isn’t your average football player. He’s also an actor, although he’s quick to point out he plans to put any Hollywood hopes on hold during football season.

    He just finished his second American film. Called Gracie, it’s a drama that has him playing the lead role of a schizophrenic who falls in love with a nun. As you might expect, it does not end well.

    While North American football always intrigued him, he credits his family for helping him make the jump into the deep end. His sister Ilonka, an aspiring pop singer, moved to Nashville with their mother at 17 to advance her career. That gave Booyens a base in Tennessee and he transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in 2003.

    “It made playing football a reality because I now had family in the U.S.” he said.

    He didn’t play football for the Blue Raiders, but he meet some NFLers and earned some workouts. His agent looked north of the border and found the Argos were interested in a workout.

    Mohns made a stop in Nashville to check out Booyens last year while scouting an NFL game.

    In South Africa, Booyens played provincial rugby in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup for the Falcons and Lions. He last played rugby in 2002.

    “Needless to say I love rugby. Rugby’s in my blood and I’ve been playing rugby since the age of four years old. But I came to the U.S to explore the option of playing football.”

    He is listed as a punter-kicker but is interested in branching out to safety if the Argos are interested.

    “I’m so honoured that if there is any role I can play or any way I can help the team, I’m willing to do that,” he said.

  2. avatar
    May 20, 2006 at 5:49 am

    Ras you insomniac, where do you find these all these snippets, does RSS stand for Rasputins Sleep-deprived Snippets?


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