Wasps winger Christian Wade leaves rugby as he primes for NFL bid

Phil Blanche 25/10/2018
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Christian Wade is leaving rugby for the NFL

Wasps have announced winger Christian Wade has retired from Rugby union amid reports that he is to try to make a move into the NFL.

The 27-year-old has been released from his contract on confidential terms, Wasps said in a club statement.

“After playing nine years of professional sport for Wasps, I’ve decided to leave for personal reasons,” said wade, who won his only England cap against Argentina in 2013.

“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.

“I have loved the sport since I was introduced to it at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe.

“I would therefore like to thank everyone who has played a part in shaping my career.

“Rugby has privileged and honoured me with so many wonderful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“Finally, I want to thank my Wasps family: the club, my team-mates and especially the fans – you have always been superb to me. I wish everyone here all the very best for the future.”

Wasps are currently third in the Gallagher Premiership and bottom of their Champions Cup group after Saturday’s 35-35 draw with Bath.

“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 and put on record our thanks for the contribution Christian has made to Wasps Rugby.”

Slough-born Wade spent his entire senior Rugby career at Wasps and is third on the Premiership’s all-time try scorer list with 82.

As well as his one England cap, he was part of the 2013 British and Irish Lions squad on the tour of Australia.

But he has not won senior international honours since, with his size – he is 5ft 8ins tall and weighs just over 13-and-a-half stone – and defensive attributes said to have counted against him.

During a holiday to America in June, Wade posted a video of himself on Instagram doing a NFL-style fitness workout, which he signed off with the hashtag #OnlyTheBeginning.

Wade would not be the first Rugby union player to try his hand at Gridiron.

Christian Scotland-Williamson moved from Worcester to join the Pittsburgh Steelers, while last year Alex Gray left Yorkshire Carnegie to link up with the Atlanta Falcons.

The NFL’s International Player Pathway Programme allows overseas players to be fast-tracked into American Football.

Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, a former NRL Under-20s Rugby league player in Australia, and Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada this year became the first two members of the Pathway Programme to make a final 53-man NFL roster .

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Ulster flanker and former Springbok star Jean Deysel calls it quits

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Jean Deysel in action for Ulster

Ulster have announced that Jean Deysel is set to retire from professional rugby, with immediate effect.

The South African enjoyed an excellent career that saw him win four caps for the Springboks.

In addition to representing Ulster, the 33-year-old had stints with the Lions and the Sharks in his homeland, as well as short spells with Verblitz and Munster.

“Looking back over the last 15 years, there were some highs, some lows, a good couple of laughs, and a few tears as well,” said Deysel, “but the thing that made the journey worthwhile is the people I met along the way.

“2018 will be the end of my rugby career, but also the start of a new journey off the field.

“I would like to firstly thank the Lord for blessing me with the ability to play and then secondly my family and close friends, the Lions and Sharks franchises, teammates and coaches over the past 15 years for their support, encouragement and motivation.

“We really enjoyed our time in Belfast and it will always be our home away from home. I want to thank Ulster Rugby for giving me the opportunity to represent this proud Province.

“I am taking back many memories to cherish and will definitely miss the support and friendliness of the fans since our arrival in Belfast.”

“It is always sad when a player retires and this time is no different,” said Ulster’s Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham. “Jean is someone who is not only hugely respected by the players and staff here at Ulster Rugby, but more widely across the rugby world.

“He can rightly be proud of what he’s achieved in a memorable career, during which he played at the highest level. Jean’s abrasive style of play was great to watch and he will be remembered as being a warrior on the pitch.

“Off the pitch, Jean has remained humble and respectful of others, key characteristics we hold in such high regard within the Ulster Rugby culture, and has been a pleasure to work with. He is a very popular member of the squad and his presence will definitely be missed.

“On behalf of everyone at Ulster Rugby, I’d like to wish Jean, Cindi and Zanru all the best for the future.”

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World Rugby Combine begins in Colorado following successful camp in the Pacific

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The players gather at the World Rugby Combine

Following the success of the 2018 Pacific Combine, which featured 30 players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, World Rugby‘s ‘Americas Combine’ is  currently underway (October 21-28) in Glendale, Colorado, USA  – the home of the Major League Rugby franchise, the Glendale Raptors.

The Combine features 25 players from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Uruguay and USA, some of whom were competing for their national A teams in the recent World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The week-long programme is a dedicated education, testing and assessment camp, aimed at preparing the next generation of test stars for professional rugby opportunities.

Underscoring the project, the top performers will be prioritised for placement with pre-selected clubs, supported by an ongoing mentoring programme, delivered by the participating parties.

Placement opportunities will primarily be arranged with Major League Rugby franchises, many of whom will be in attendance.

With player welfare and personal development as the central considerations, the initiative run in partnership with Rugby Americas, Pacific Rugby Players (PRP) and the five participating unions, reflects World Rugby’s ongoing commitment to developing sustainable high-performance pathways for emerging unions.

The identification, development and assisting of the placement of talent across the globe, along with supporting that talent in their ambitions to play international rugby, will ultimately benefit Rugby World Cup preparation for unions.

During the camp, players will undergo intensive testing and assessment of their rugby and athletic ability, character, effort and ability to learn and develop as a rugby player, while tactical workshops will challenge players’ understanding of different aspects of the game.

The players will also receive tutelage on professional contracting, social media, time management, mental skills, the life of professional athletes, and match officiating in elite competitions.

The week will culminate in a match on Saturday between the ‘Americas Combine Selects’ and the Glendale Raptors at Infinity Park.

The camp follows the inaugural Pacific Combine in Suva, Fiji in March, in which six of the 30 Fijian, Samoa and Tongan players participating in that camp were placed into professional opportunities with pre-selected clubs in in Super Rugby, Australia’s National Rugby Championship and New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup.

World Rugby Vice Chairman and Americas Rugby President Agustin Pichot said: “We are excited to expand our new player pathway project into the Americas, to accelerate the development of rugby in the region through its high-performance unions.

“There is a significant amount of young playing talent in the Americas to be nurtured and safeguarded. By providing the players with opportunities to enhance their performance and that of their national team, the sport can reap the benefits at Rugby World Cup 2019 and beyond.”

Americas Rugby CEO Dan Payne added: “At the end of the week, we expect to have a strong grasp of what each individual could bring to a professional environment on and off the field.

“Every interaction from the time the players arrive to the time they depart, will gather data toward their overall evaluation.  Most importantly, the data will generate the feedback required for the continued growth of each individual as a player and a person.”

World Rugby TV will be following the group of players on their journey within a dedicated documentary to be aired later this year.

The documentary following the 2018 Pacific Combine can be viewed here.

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