Rhys Byrns: 4 things to know about the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football punter

Daniella Medina
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football punter Rhys Byrns is a long way from home in Melbourne, Australia. 

The standout from Down Under handled all the Ragin' Cajuns punting duties during the 2019 season. Byrns committed to the Cajuns in 2018, becoming the third punter from Down Under in recent years. 

Here is some basic info about Byrns:

  • Height: 6 feet
  • Weight: 186 pounds 
  • Age: 22 years old
  • Birthdate: Aug. 31, 1998
  • Hometown: Rye, Victoria, Australia
  • High school:  St. Anthony of Padua College, Brisbane, Australia 

Here are four more things to know about Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns punter Rhys Byrns. 

Rhys Byrns stats for 2019

Rhys Byrns was the Ragin' Cajuns' primary punter in 2019. He helped the Ragin' Cajuns go 11-3 overall and 7-2 in the Sun Belt Conference

The punter booted 45 punts for 1,991 yards, 16 of which were inside the 20-yard line. Eight punts were launched over 50 yards. 

Byrns averaged 44.24 yards per punt, setting the school record for the best punter average in a season. He also set a career high for the longest punt (70 yards) on Sept. 21, 2019, at Ohio. 

His performance last season earned him Sun Belt All-Conference Second Team and First Team All-Louisiana honors. 

Rhys Byrns earned several 2020 preseason honors

Rhys Byrns was named to the 2020 Sun Belt's Preseason All-Conference First Team, which was voted on by the 10 Sun Belt Conference football head coaches. 

Byrns received the following honors entering the 2020 season:

  • Lindy's Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt first teams
  • Phil Steele's Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference first team
  • Street & Smith's Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team
  • Ray Guy Award Watch List

On Sept. 14, Byrns was named to the Ray Guy Award’s “Ray’s 4” as one of the top four punters in the country the previous weekend. Byrns punted five times for 210 yards in an upset win over No. 23 Iowa State on Sept. 12. 

Rhys Byrns played football in Australia before coming to the United States

Punter Rhys Byrns as Louisiana Ragin Cajuns take on  the Miami University Redhawks in the Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile, AL.  Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

Rhys Byrns played Australian football as a teen, growing up in Melbourne, but he had always loved the American game. When the first version didn’t work out, Byrns nevertheless decided to give the other one a shot. 

“I always had a bigger kick than anyone else, I feel, on my team in Australian football and always wanted to try (American football) out," Byrns said in 2019. "My Australian football career sort of came to a halt when I wasn’t gonna get drafted at (age) 18, so I thought, ‘I still want to play at a high level of sport,’ and decided to come over.”

He tried his shot at ProKick Australia, a program developed in 2007 to help guide and transition Australian athletes to perform at the college and NFL level. 

A few months later, in the summer of 2017, he was in the States, showing off his booming leg along with other touring ProKick prospects. Before he knew it, the Cajuns were recruiting him. He committed in 2018 and the rest is history.

Leap of faith:Byrns came from far to punt for the Cajuns

The Cajuns played so well, Rhys Byrns wasn't needed. His mother didn't understand why

UL's Rhys Byrns punts the ball to the opposing receivers as the Ragin' Cajuns play against the Georgia State Panthers at Cajun Field on Saturday Nov. 10, 2018.

From the Lafayette Daily Advertiser on Oct. 15, 2019: 

It was halftime of UL's 77-6 win over Texas Southern back in mid-September, and Rhys Byrns’ mother was worried.

Why hadn’t her son — the Ragin’ Cajuns’ starting punter, the one she’d traveled all the way from Australia to watch play — gotten in the game yet?

Byrns' aunt and uncle, in town for the only time this season to watch their nephew, wondered the same thing. 

“In their lack of familiarity with the rules,” UL head coach Billy Napier said, “they thought something was wrong.”

There was not.

Byrns hadn’t played because UL’s offense was on a roll, scoring a touchdown on each of its full opening-half drives.

He simply was not needed, and in fact wasn't all night, which was a positive for the Cajuns.

But Mandy Byrns, who also was in the United States to see UL’s season-opening loss to Mississippi State at the Superdome and its subsequent home win over Liberty, did not know that.

“She thought Coach wasn’t playing me because I’d done something wrong during the week,” Byrns said of his mom. “So I had to explain to her quickly at halftime that it wasn’t something I was doing wrong; the offense was just doing so good."

Read more UL punter Rhys Byrns news:

Here is a link to the Rhys Byrns bio on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns website. 

Tim Buckley contributed to this story. 

Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. You can reach her at or on Twitter @danimedinanews.