English rugby's Wade scores touchdown on first NFL play
New York (AFP)
Christian Wade never dreamed he would score the first time he touched the ball in an NFL game, but that's exactly what the former England rugby union international did.
The 28-year-old, a standout for Wasps in the English Premiership for eight seasons, ran 65 yards untouched for a touchdown on his first play on Thursday in Buffalo's 24-16 home victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
"It was the best feeling in the world to score a touchdown," Wade said.
"It was an incredible moment for me.
"It gives me the motivation to keep going, the positive energy that I'm making strides in the right direction. I've got loads of work to do."
Wade was given the game ball by his teammates, most of whom were wildly celebrating on the sidelines in the fourth quarter as he broke past the blockers, cut right and accelerated past defenders and outraced everyone to the end zone.
"It was crazy," Wade said.
"The way I was instructed in training, I learned about the reads and what to do if this happens. I knew exactly where I was going even before the ball came because they overloaded the one side and I said to myself, 'I'm definitely going over there.'
"As soon as I got the ball I was off to the races. I was looking up at the screen to see if any of the linebackers were coming up behind me and was just trying to get to the end zone."
There was no dive to the turf or setting down of the ball as in rugby union. Instead, after crossing the goal line for the touchdown, he walked to the back of the end zone and dropped the ball as other Bills players arrived to congratulate him.
"Everyone was going crazy. I think everyone was surprised that happened on my first touch," Wade said. "The way we were celebrating it was like the end of the game and we just won."
Asked if he ever dreamed such a scenario, Wade admitted, "Not really."
"I said we'll just have to see what happens. I believe in preparing the right way. The team sees me putting in a lot of hard work," he said.
"The thing I found with football is it's not just one man who has the show, although there are a lot of poster boys who get the credit and stuff. It's a whole team effort. If the o-line didn't block and hold the guys where they were at then that hole wouldn't have opened up.
- 'A special moment' -
Wade, who matched a Premiership record with six tries in a 2016 match against Worcester, was released last October by Wasps so he could pursue an NFL career, joining the league's International Player Pathway program.
While he trails such veteran talents as LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore on the Bills' depth chart at running back, Wade showed he has skills that could prove worthy of a spot on the club's final 53-man regular season roster.
"A great moment for Christian Wade," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "And great energy by our team showing their appreciation for him. It was a special moment."
Gore, 35, is a five-time NFL Pro Bowl selection who appreciates Wade's achievement.
"He's catching on to the game," Gore said. "It's tough to play this game at a high level. I'm happy to see him getting better every day."
© 2019 AFP