Christian Wade's future in the NFL

Christian Wade has a tough task ahead in the NFL
Christian Wade has a tough task ahead in the NFL
©PA

There are few sports in this world that combine exhilarating sporting moments, laced with camaraderie and other virtue-related tropes associated with sports, with athletic prowess quite like Rugby does.

The sport’s allure lies in the unrelenting aggression, the life-and-death mentality that comes to play on the field. Very few people are able to distinguish between American football, mainly the NFL, and rugby played in leagues in the UK and NZ, despite the obvious differences in rules, regulations, wardrobe and the resultant intensity, similar to the case of online sports betting for different sports. Recently, the debate over whether players can transition between the two sports has taken center stage, given the fact that Wasp’s flying winger Christian Wade has decided to leave his British abode for American pastures.

What is Wade thinking?

Given that Wade is one of the most prolific wingers around and at 27 should be in the prime of his career, it is quite surprising that Wade decided to take this decision. This aside from the fact that he shall basically have to learn and transition into a new sport, though admittedly it might not be the hardest thing to do since Rugby and American football share a plethora of similarities and an athlete like Wade could definitely lend an interesting dynamic to the American game. It has been speculated, however, that Wade might’ve quit due to disillusionment with the the UK game’s obsessive love for bulky guys, due to which he got restricted to earning just one cap with England a few years ago when Argentina came to tour.

Rugby is a contact sport, saying which in itself is quite an understatement. The sport thrives off the collision course players often embark upon, the kerfuffles they partake in utilising strength and more importantly, the will to win at any cost. Most games are decided by who wins the majority of these 50-50 battles of adroitness. There is, therefore, greater incentive for stakeholders of the sport namely coaches to look out for physically alluring talent who’d most likely be able to utilize their physical gifts to hopefully outmuscle the opponent off the park. This does not discount the need for technical ability, however, which Wade showed in abundance in his illustrious career, slaloming past massive men at ease. It’s no wonder that Wade has the third-highest number of tryouts, only outdone by the likes of Tom Varndell and Mark Cueto. Wade’s acceleration and mostly his ability to tiptoe into the most perfect positions is what made him such a coveted member of the Wasps, but it garnered minimal attention in the English game because of its obsession with size and Wade has admitted in interviews recently that it did make him doubt himself often. While he didn’t confirm that this was indeed the reason why he left, it seems this could’ve been at least one of the reasons why he left for the NFL. Then again, NFL is a cash-strapped sports empire with a plenitude of lucrative contracts to offer to the likes of Wade. One could say that it might be one of his primary motivations, and no one would cry foul if it were to be spot on either.

What could this mean for Wade?

While most purists of the sport would feel that Wade’s sheer speed and astute sense of positioning can make him an asset for any team in the NFL after some sport-related fine tuning, there’s also space for scepticism as to how his prospects will shape up once the season kicks off and he finds himself quite literally dealing with an entirely different ball game. Most NFL enthusiasts have opined that Wade’s primary challenges shall be acclimatising himself to the protective wares which he’ll have to adorn and it’s been deliberated upon with much fervour as to how much this will affect his movement, which forms a major crux of his game. Also, he’ll have to settle into an environment wherein the physical and technical demands could prove to be copious, given how passionately followed the sport is and the weight of expectations could yet prove to be a test for Wade. Wade will also be vying for relevance and constant gametime with the young talent pool of America, all of whom would have been playing the sport since childhood and perhaps would hold a greater grasp at the rudimentary particulars of the game. All this said, one thing is for certain and it is that Wade shall definitely not be deterred by the physical and technical challenges posed by NFL, given that he would have experienced these compunctions several times throughout the course of this Rugby career. His achievements as an athlete are too remarkable to overlook, and if you look at the raw toolset comprising of rapturous guile and solid technical ability in Rugby, you couldn’t completely dismiss this move and discount his chances.