ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s a name Buffalo can’t stop hearing the day after the Bills played their first preseason game: Christian Wade.
The former British rugby star ran in a 65-yard touchdown Thursday night. It was his first touch in the NFL, and touchdown. In the fourth quarter of the game, the 28-year-old ran the ball in the end zone in lightning speed, and New Era Field went wild. Social media is also having a heyday.
Even the league and major media outlets posted about Wade on their social media pages Thursday night and Friday morning.
In the locker room after the game, Wade told the media it was the best feeling in the world, but admitted he wasn’t sure what to do once he was in the end zone, since football is such a new sport to him.
“I’m so used to the conversion in rugby, running back to the halfway and getting ready to do it again, but I was kind of looking around, (I) didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Everyone was celebrating and I was like trying to celebrate by trying to think about what am I supposed to do next, and everyone was like, ‘come off the field.'”
So who is Christian Wade? He played professional rugby in England’s top division of the sport for about a decade. His former team, the Wasps, tweeted after his big play, “Pretty standard for Christian Wade.” He was the third highest try scorer in division history, but retired last year in hopes of joining the NFL.
He’s a part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, which started in 2017. The program gives international athletes the chance to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and potentially earn a spot on an NFL roster.
For their next preseason game on Friday, August 16, the Bills will play against a successful graduate of the international program: Efe Obada. There are three graduates of the program, in all, who are on NFL rosters.
“To watch Christian, the way he works, his work ethic, he has a great smile,” McDermott said, back in May. “I think he brings positive energy every day to our building, and I don’t think you can place an exact value on that, but we certainly value it here.”