NEW YORK – Former England and Wasps wing Christian Wade has signed for the Buffalo Bills as he pursues his dream of forging a career in the NFL, the team announced on Monday.
Wade shocked English rugby last year after announcing his plans to switch sports and find a place with a gridiron team.
The 27-year-old joined the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which aims to find and nurture athletic talent from around the world and groom them for the NFL.
The Bills announced on Wednesday that Wade had been assigned to the team’s squad as a running back for the 2019 season.
The Bills, and three other team teams from the AFC East, would get a roster exemption to account for Wade’s inclusion, allowing them to have 91 players on the roster instead of 90.
Wade reacted with news of his signing by the Bills on Instagram.
“I’m a lost for word right now,” Wade wrote. “Give god thanks.”
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Several England and Wasps rugby internationals congratulated Wade beneath the post.
“Proud of you brahhh,” England and Saracens lock Maro Itoje wrote, while former England flyhalf Danny Cipriani added: “Never in doubt my brother.”
Wade was regarded as one of the most devastating finishers in English rugby during his club career, but found opportunities to represent England at international level limited.
Although he earned a call-up as a replacement on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, he was largely ignored by various coaches, the final straw coming when he was overlooked from a 50-man training squad for the 2015 World Cup by then-coach Stuart Lancaster.
Wade is aiming to follow the example of other English rugby players who have joined NFL teams through the pathway programme, notably former England Sevens player Alex Gray, who is now on the books of the Atlanta Falcons, and Christian Scotland-Williamson, the former Worcester Warriors player who joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.AFP