The Buffalo Bills added to their running back corps in a resoundingly unique way.
On Monday, the team announced that Christian Wade was allocated to them as part of the league’s International Pathway Program. Wade, a native of Slough, England, has spent the entirety of his athletic career playing rugby.
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) April 8, 2019
Former Rugby Player Christian Wade to Join Buffalo Bills
Wade spent the previous eight seasons playing for London Wasps in the English Premiership, the nation’s top rugby division. His second season with the club saw him earn Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year honors after scoring 13 tries (the rugby equivalent of a touchdown) which were tied for most in the league. It resulted in him getting a call-up to the England senior squad as well as the prestigious British and Irish Lions team.
Over the course of his club career, Wade made 165 appearances for Wasps and scored 497 points. In October of 2018, the 27-year-old decided to retire in order to pursue a career in the NFL. Wade began training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL with the aim of potentially playing running back. He also should be able to contribute on special teams.
The NFL started the International Pathway Program in 2017. It gives athletes outside of the United States a route to pursue an NFL career that they otherwise would not have. Teams assigned players through this program receive an exemption on their 90-man rosters during training camp. They also get an extra practice squad spot during the regular season. However, those players are ineligible from being activated to the main roster.
The Bills’ most prominent move at running back during the off-season was the signing of veteran Frank Gore in free agency. LeSean McCoy will return in 2019 for his fifth season in Buffalo. Other players at the position on the current roster include Keith Ford, Marcus Murphy, and Senorise Perry.