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Louis Rees-Zammit: Former Wales rugby star signs for NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs | UK News

Former Wales rugby international Louis Rees-Zammit has signed for NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs.

The former Gloucester, Wales and British and Irish Lions wing announced in January he was quitting rugby to chase his American football dream.

In a video posted by the Chiefs on X, he said: “Hi Chiefs Kingdom, Louis Rees-Zammit here.

“Just signed, can’t wait to go and see you all at Arrowhead.”

The Chiefs said on their official website: “The Kansas City Chiefs made an international splash on Friday with the addition of former European rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit to the roster.”

Rees-Zammit had made 32 appearances for his country’s national side, and scored 70 points.

But the 23-year-old joined the NFL’s international player pathway ahead of a Six Nations tournament that saw Wales take home the wooden spoon.

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Welsh rugby union star chases American dream

Earlier this month, he told Sky News making it in the NFL would be the “most proud moment of [his] life”.

He visited several NFL franchises, including the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, but has settled on the Chiefs, who have won the last two Super Bowl titles and three of the last five, inspired by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.

His dream moved a step closer when he impressed during last week’s pro day that forms part of the international player pathway.

Scouts from all 32 NFL teams watched him go through his paces at the event at the University of South Florida.

Louis Rees-Zammit
Louis Rees-Zammit played 32 times for Wales. Pic: PA

Rees-Zammit clocked 4.43 seconds in his 40-yard dash, a 9ft 7in broad jump and 29-inch vertical jump.

He will try to win a place on Kansas City’s final 53-man roster for the 2024 season, which begins in September.

Running back and wide receiver are his designated positions, but if he does not make it, he is likely to spend his first season on Kansas City’s practice squad, the BBC said.

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The Chiefs added: “Rees-Zammit participated in the international player pathway programme workout earlier this month, which provided the former rugby star with an opportunity to show NFL scouts what he could do.

“His workout included a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, which would have ranked fifth among tailbacks at the 2024 NFL scouting combine.”

Officers should be allowed to ban drug and drink-drivers at the roadside, police chiefs say | UK News

Police chiefs are calling for new powers to allow officers to instantly disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the side of the road.

They say the new powers would allow police to take drivers who pose a risk to others off the road “immediately”.

Currently, drivers charged with drug or drink-driving offences are banned following a sentencing hearing at a magistrates’ court.

But these hearings can take weeks to get to the court, and, until then, drivers are allowed to get back behind the wheel.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, said: “The ability for us to be able to disqualify people either for drink or drug-driving by the roadside would mean that we can immediately take that risk off the road.

“And those people can’t be behind the wheel, particularly if they’ve blown well over the legal limit.”

Chief Constable of Sussex Police Jo Shiner at Sussex Police Headquarters in Lewes, East Sussex. Pic: PA
Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing. Pic: PA

Under the current system, drivers are checked using a road-side test, which, if positive, is followed by a confirmatory test at a police station.

If that second test comes back positive, they are charged and sent to court.

Force chiefs are currently in early discussions looking at the type of tests that could be used to allow officers to ban people at the roadside.

They are also looking at the legal changes needed to make the move possible.

As well as roadside bans, the NPCC also want tougher punishments for drivers who kill while under the influence, including potential murder charges.

Ms Shiner said: “We should have greater sentencing and far greater sentences, particularly for those people who do kill or seriously injure people on the roads.

“I actually do believe that if someone makes that decision to get behind the wheel, under the influence of drink or drugs, that is a conscious decision they have made to get into a vehicle and therefore to put other people at risk.

“I think we really do need to work hard on making sure that we’re strengthening the sentencing and making sure that we are properly using, where we can, sentencing that is already available to us.”

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The idea of instant disqualification is supported by Ceinwen Briddon, who campaigned for tougher sentences for fatal drivers after her 21-year-old daughter Miriam was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Gareth Entwhistle, then 34, was jailed after admitting causing death by undue care while over the prescribed drink-drive limit in 2015.

He served half of a five-year jail term and was banned from driving for five years.

Ms Briddon’s campaigning spurred on a change in the law where those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving can face a life sentence.

Ms Briddon said: “I would challenge anybody to say to me, how would they feel if they’d killed a person? How would they feel if they’d ruined a family’s life? Could they live with the thought of people hating them, and could they survive a lengthy period in jail?

“I do feel strongly that the length of sentence should reflect the crime.”

Union says best-paid fire chiefs earn more than six times regular firefighter’s salary | UK News

The highest-paid fire service bosses earn more than six times a regular firefighter’s salary, according to a union.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said Freedom of Information requests reveal “stark inequalities” in pay, at a time when many firefighters are facing “in-work poverty”.

Chief fire officers get an average of £148,000, the union said.

The highest-paid earns £206,000 – more than six times what an ordinary firefighter is paid, they added.

The union published the figures as firefighters continue to vote on whether to strike over pay after rejecting an offer of 5%.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters and control staff are facing yet another real terms pay cut while fire chiefs rake in huge salaries.

“FBU members are increasingly facing real ‘in work’ poverty, with firefighters having to rely on foodbanks and take on additional jobs to afford the basics.

“At the same time, some fire chiefs are also trying to persuade firefighters and control staff to step back from industrial action, to simply shut up about salaries that are several times smaller than their bosses.

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“It’s insulting and stinks of hypocrisy of some chief officers who refuse to make the case for better pay for their workers.

“Chief fire officers are not worth six times more than firefighters, it was the latter who were called key workers during the pandemic delivering vital services including moving the bodies of the deceased.

“Firefighters and control staff are being left with no other choice but to take action.”

The ballot result is due at the end of January.

Pay negotiations are with representatives from employers – typically local authorities – but the FBU insists “a big factor in all of this is central funding”.

If they went ahead with strike action, firefighters would be the latest in a long line of workers to have taken industrial action in recent months.

Nurses, rail workers, civil servants and postal workers are among the tens of thousands of people to have already walked off the job in their fight for better pay.

Ministers have insisted they cannot afford to give striking workers inflation-busting pay rises.

But Labour has criticised the government for refusing to negotiate with unions.

‘Arrogant’ defence chiefs condemned for refusing to review cuts to army numbers | UK News

MPs have challenged a decision to shrink the size of Britain’s army by thousands of soldiers as a war rages in Europe, demonstrating the need for large land forces.

The Defence Select Committee also criticised cost-saving plans to retire dozens of tanks and other armoured vehicles before replacements are ready.

The MPs urged the Ministry of Defence at the very least to review the timelines for any changes to avoid creating capability gaps that could leave the armed forces vulnerable.

And they accused defence chiefs of appearing “arrogant and unwilling to learn lessons” from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or from last year’s disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.

Tobias Ellwood, chair of the committee, called on the next prime minister to commit more funds to defence.

“It is clear that now is not the time for personnel cuts or budget shortfalls in our armed forces,” he said. “We cannot afford for our [armed] services to become poorer and weaker. We need to spend more and spend it wisely.”

The cross-party committee has published a report into a major review of defence, security and foreign policy and accompanying papers released by the government last year.

It criticised commanders and mandarins for a reluctance to look again at the conclusions of their work – which set out the future size, capabilities and priorities of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – in the wake of the subsequent Afghan withdrawal and Russian war.

“No strategy should be set in stone nor subject to constant revision,” the committee said.

“However, there is a need for government to be able to respond to major events… rather than downplaying the potential implications of such geopolitical shocks.”

Read more: World entering ‘dangerous new age’ of threats, says UK’s top national security adviser

A move that came in for particular criticism was the plan to reduce the size of the army by almost 10,000 troops, from a target of 82,000 to 72,500, by 2025 – a reduction that would diminish the force to its smallest in more than 300 years.

The MPs said it was a worry given – on top of security threats – the UK’s already over-stretched soldiers are increasingly called upon to help in non-military emergencies such as floods and the response to COVID.

“We are especially concerned about the proposed cuts to personnel numbers and the effective reduction in mass, particularly since that we are seeing defence being used more and more often as an emergency measure to relieve exceptional pressures on public services and perform such tasks that otherwise might be expected to be carried out by others,” the committee said in its report.

At the same time, it noted that General Sir Patrick Sanders, the new head of the army, had described the cuts as “perverse” and that Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, appeared to support a review of the decision.

Separately to the evidence considered by the committee, Mr Wallace told Sky News this week that the army would likely grow rather than shrink if the next prime minister commits to a significant uplift in defence spending at a time of growing threats.