Popular Ex-Bills RB Makes Big Move After Return to Original Sport

Christian Wade

Getty Christian Wade runs the ball in a Buffalo Bills preseason game.

Christian Wade’s attempt to jump into the NFL with the Buffalo Bills didn’t exactly work out, but his return to his original sport has been a big success.

Wade was a converted British rugby star who was allocated to the Bills in 2019 as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program, which was created to give special exemptions to foreign players trying to make it in the NFL. Wade spent three seasons on Buffalo’s practice squad in one of those exempt spots and made a splash in the preseason, but never made it to the active roster.

Wade went back to rugby last season and had a successful season with the Paris club Racing 92, and now has landed a new deal with the team. As The Rugby Paper reported, Wade earned a contract extension after a season in which he scored seven tries in eight games.

Wade Adjusts to Another New Game

Prior to his three-year stint on the Bills practice squad, Wade made a name for himself as a rugby star with Wasps Rugby Football Club in England, where he still holds the franchise record for most tries. Wade competed in rugby union, a version of the game with 14 players on each side.

When Wade returned to the sport following his time with the Bills, he competed in Sevens, a version with seven players on each side where player speed is more valued.

After competing in his third different type of sport over the previous four years, Wade said it was an adjustment to get used to the new game.

“There were definitely a couple of rules I had to get used to,” Wade said in August 2022, via Coventry Live. “I wanted to make sure I could tick all the right boxes. When I got into the game, I was just ready to go at full speed and not have to think too much.”

But Wade took to the sport quickly, scoring a try in his first game. Aftward, Wade said he was pleased with his return to rugby and had a feeling he would make a mark.

“I’m a serial tryscorer,” he said. “Before the game, I was telling people, it’s my first game, I am scoring, there’s no doubt about it. When it came, the rest was history. First game, first try, we got the win as well. Big smiles all round.”

Christian Wade Became Favorite Among Bills Fans

Wade quickly became a favorite among Bills fans in the 2019 preseason. On his first NFL snap, Wade took a handoff and scampered 65 yards for a touchdown, leading to a big ovation from his teammates.


But because the NFL created an exempt spot on practice squads for players in the International Pathway Program, Wade was ineligible to make the active roster during his two seasons with the Bills. The former rugby star suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the 2021 season, and the Bills released him in April 2022.

As The Rugby Paper reported, Wade’s new team also took advantage of a special exemption to keep him on the roster. Racing 92 used a rule that allowed teams a special dispensation to sign players to cover for members of the roster away on World Cup squads.

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