Former England winger Christian Wade announced his retirement from rugby union at the age of 27 on this day in 2018 as he looked to launch an American football career.
Wade, the fourth highest tryscorer in English club rugby on 82, was granted early release from his Wasps contract after nine years at the club to join NFL team the Buffalo Bills.
In doing so he halved his salary from the £250,000 a year he was earning in the Gallagher Premiership. The move never took off on the field either as he failed to make the Bills’ roster.
Slough-born Wade, who won his only England cap in 2013 against Argentina, described the decision to leave rugby as the hardest in his life.
He said: “After playing nine years of professional sport for Wasps, I’ve decided to leave for personal reasons.
“I would like to thank Wasps chairman Derek Richardson and Dai (Young, director of rugby) for their support, consideration and understanding in what is the most difficult decision of my life.
“Rugby has privileged and honoured me with so many wonderful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Wasps were third in the Gallagher Premiership and bottom of their Heineken Champions Cup group when Wade, who as well as winning one England cap also represented the 2013 British and Irish Lions on their tour of Australia, announced he was leaving.
“It’s very disappointing to lose a player of Wadey’s quality at this stage of the season,” Young said.
“The club held numerous discussions with him to try and convince him to keep pushing forward with Wasps but in the end it was clear this is the path he wished to go down. The club nevertheless wants to wish him all the best with his future career path.”
Using the NFL’s international player pathway program to facilitate the switch, Wade made waves by scoring a 65-yard touchdown as a running back in pre-season, but a regular season game eluded him.
The experiment lasted three years and in September 2022 he returned to rugby after agreeing a deal to join French side Racing 92.