Rugby World Cup: What is it like being Louis Rees-Zammit, on and off the rugby field?

Louis Rees-Zammit
Louis Rees-Zammit has scored nine tries in 27 internationals for Wales

What is it like being Louis Rees-Zammit? The Wales wing will give you the opportunity to find out after starring in a new BBC documentary on his life on and off the rugby field.

After bursting on the scene as a teenager with Gloucester and making his Wales debut aged 19, Rees-Zammit is already a Six Nations winner and British and Irish Lion.

Now, at 22, he is preparing to play in his first World Cup in France later this month. Before that challenge he has let the public into his life in a behind-the-scenes programme.

"You don't get much access to players' lives these days," said Rees-Zammit.

"There is a lot of social media but not a lot of behind-the-scenes content, so I thought it would be a good idea.

"It will hopefully help inspire the younger generation to work hard and see what they can achieve. I have done that, worked hard and enjoyed what has come from it."

Confidence of youth

It is clear Rees-Zammit is not your normal Wales rugby player. Wales' record-breaking fly-half Dan Biggar even described him in the programme as "un-Welsh", but this unfamiliar word is meant as a compliment.

Biggar was referring to Rees-Zammit's confidence in his ability and the fact that he is not afraid to outline what he wants to achieve.

"My main goal is to be the best player in the world and I will keep working hard to do that," said Rees-Zammit.

"We have the World Cup coming up and I am confident in this team and hopefully we can get far in the tournament.

"I am still quite young but feel mature in the sense I have been playing for four of five years professionally now.

"Being the best player in the world is the goal and I am sure that is the same for every rugby player. Hopefully it is a realistic goal for me and I will continue to work hard."

A fan at a Wales training session
A fan at a Wales training session

Rees-Zammit plans to watch the documentary with his Wales team-mates.

"They have definitely been winding me up," he said.

"I think we've got a squad viewing on Monday night so I'm looking forward to it. The boys are full of praise, they are pushing things like this.

"It's great to see the behind the scenes of someone's life, especially the rugby side and the off-field stuff. Hopefully more players can come out and do similar."

Rugby is viewed by some as being behind other sports in promoting its star assets and highlighting individuals who supporters can idolise or relate to.

Rees-Zammit represents rugby for the new social media generation, and promoting rugby - and its characters - was one of the inspiration behind the programme.

"You don't see this often," said Rees-Zammit.

"You don't get to see people's lives, but we decided to do it and hopefully it can inspire.

"We always want to grow rugby and get the younger generation watching, so it can hopefully help drive the game forward. Hopefully we can get more of these documentaries done.

"It's a different generation now. Maybe 10 years ago social media wasn't so big, so you would not get what you would get today.

"Just getting the behind the scenes of my life, not just the rugby things, the things I do off-the-field, how close I am with my family and the opportunities I get from being a professional rugby player, that all comes across."

Family ties

Louis Rees-Zammit taking a selfie after World Cup warm-up win against England in August 2023
Louis Rees-Zammit taking a selfie after World Cup warm-up win against England in August 2023

You also get a glimpse of Rees-Zammit's glamorous life away from rugby with the endorsements he has been given and holidays he enjoys with his family. His parents Maxine and Joe and brother Taylor are his biggest backers.

"They are my number one support, they mean everything to me," said Rees-Zammit.

"They are a big motivation why I play the game as well. They are everywhere I go. I live with them and am always spending time with them."

It is not all champagne and caviar on show, however. The programme also demonstrates the lows of injuries and being dropped by Wales, as well as the social media abuse Rees-Zammit faces following some games.

"You get a rise and you come back down but it's how fast you can bounce back and that was shown in the documentary," he said.

Rees lightning

Louis Rees-Zammit almost scores against England
Louis Rees-Zammit almost scores against England

Speed is always associated with Rees-Zammit and he has travelled to America to try to make himself even faster at a specialist training camp and has reportedly captured the attention of NFL scouts.

Back in Cardiff, he completed an unofficial 100m indoor run which in line with off the field endorsements was done for his YouTube channel to promote his new energy drink.

It was officiated and timed by his brother Taylor and best friend, Scarlets and Wales centre Johnny Williams.

His unregulated recording was an impressive 10.44secs, which would have placed him eighth in the UK Athletics Championships 100m men's final this summer.

"It was good, I have never really run 100m before and get the question all the time about how fast can I do it," said Rees-Zammit.

"It is one of the first things people ask me, so I thought why not give it a try. I got a good time so it's easy to answer that question now. I was happy with the time.

"I have never done it before, I didn't do it out of any blocks either. It will be good to give it a go properly with an official time, but I just wanted to test myself a bit.

"All the sprint training is going to help me doing rugby so I am happy with that."

The hour-long programme gives an insight into how Rees-Zammit aims to capitalise on all the opportunities being an international player brings. But he insists his career is what matters most.

"Rugby is the priority, it's the main focus," said Rees-Zammit.

"I would be nowhere near getting any of these opportunities off the field if it wasn't for rugby and am determined to focus on that.

"Everything else that comes with it afterwards is a bonus."

Watch "Being Louis Rees-Zammit" on Monday night at 9pm on BBC One Wales and also on BBC iPlayer.