Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is confident former England Rugby Union wing Christian Wade can make it in the NFL
Wade, who played both for England and British and Irish Lions, quit rugby in October 2018 to ‘have a crack’ at NFL football. He was contracted to the English club team Wasps at the time but they agree to release him.
Wade spent the 2019 NFL campaign with the Bills but did not manage to get promoted to their active roster. What this means is that he has not yet appeared in a regular-season NFL game. Allen, however, firmly believes that this will all change if the talented rookie’s gridiron game continues to improve at the rate it has
“I do. I definitely do,” the Buffalo starting quarterback told Omnisport this week
“He’s got the speed. Obviously, learning a new game there’s some challenges there. There are little things that guys that have been playing for so long don’t even remember. The little nuances of the game of football are just a little different (from rugby).
“But he’s learning not to pitch it back, he’s running forward, he’s holding onto it so if he keeps doing that, we’ll be just fine. He is awesome. Just how he attacks each day
Wade took his first carry 65 yards
“In the preseason he did exceptionally well, he took his first carry 65 yards. Just a great kid that wants to learn and wants to work. We’ve become really good friends with him and his fiancée. To make the transition that he has done and do it well, it’s unbelievable. I’m pulling for him, I’m rooting for him, I love being around him. He’s such a vibrant character.”
Bills head coach Sean McDermott will have more say in whether Wade is one of the 53 men on the upcoming season’s final roster.
And he believes Wade’s work ethic stands him in excellent stead.
“What a great ambassador for the game in terms of the UK and he’s done a phenomenal job. Just the positive energy and juice he brings to our football team every day is impressive,” McDermott added
“I think it’s all about feeling comfortable. Last year it (US football) was so new, it wasn’t easy going out to play a new sport.
“It would be like me going over to the UK to play rugby or what have you. He’s just made so many strides since coming to us less than a year ago.
The sky’s the limit
“The sky’s the limit. It’s a matter of the hard work that he puts in. I know he’s a hard worker and we’ll see where it goes.”
Wade is stocky and powerfully-built, but at 5ft 8in is not a big man by US football standards. As a school track athlete who ran a 10.8 second 100 meter sprint aged 16, he makes up for it though in sheer pace and elusiveness.
But to get a better idea of what makes him tick, we should look back at his early years.
Wade was born in England, educated at Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe and at St Marys University College.
He was not initially interested in rugby but got into it because it was his schools major sport. He represented the England U16 A, England U18 and the England U20s. At club level he played for the Wasps in the Middlesex Sevens as a schoolboy.
Wade studied sports science and psychology
After finishing school, Wade studied sport science and psychology at St Mary’s in Twickenham while playing for the Wasps’ academy and senior teams.
As of 14 February 2017, he had a scoring ratio of 0.623 tries per game ratio for Wasps. He had scored 76 tries in 122 matches.
His try-scoring ability soon caught the attention of the England and the British and Irish Lions selectors.
He made his international debut for England in sevens rugby in 2009. He amassed 22 tries in the world-wide championship to finish as the joint top try scorer with famed Fijian William Ryder.
He played for the England under 20s in the 2010 IRB World Championship and had represented England in Argentina and the Lions in Australian when a serious injury in a club match cut short his season. It prevented him playing in the 2013 Six Nations championship.
After recovering, Wade played for the England Saxons, but never for England again, almost certainly because of his size. Eventually, tired of waiting for a recall, he packed his bags and headed for the US. He hoped his pace and guile would count for more in the NFL.
Now it seems it has. Right now he could be on the cusp of an exciting new career in America’s favourite sport.
In his first football game ever. On his first NFL touch.
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2019