Christian Wade has quit his rugby career at Wasps and decided to move to the NFL. Wade is one of the most prolific try scorers in the premiership, having 98 to his name at the Coventry club, yet he’s left this behind to join a game he may not be as successful in. Why is this? And is Eddie Jones at the centre of this problem?
Wade has been successful at Wasps, constantly being at the top of their try scoring sheet and even equalling the all-time try scoring record in a single game by going across the line six times against Worcester in 2016. At each selection for the national team every fan, home and away, were expecting Wade to be chosen. Aside from one cap, Wade has been overlooked and most notably by Eddie Jones who has neglected to include the winger in any of his training camps.
In anyone’s career, particularly sportsmen and women, they want to progress and achieve the most that they can. So is it any surprise that Wade has left rugby when he has been left out of what could have been an extremely successful World Cup for him in 12 months’ time? He has dominated the premiership stage and he wants a new challenge. Jones is not giving this to him so he is departing.
Of course, Wade could just be wanting a new challenge and the international game is not playing on his mind. However, other players have made similar moves due to Jones’ selections. Chris Ashton, despite his controversial reputation, was playing exceptionally well for Saracens when Eddie Jones was appointed as England’s head coach. Ashton was overlooked time and time again by Jones and so at the end of the 2016 season Ashton decided to go to France — seeking more money for his talent if an England call up was not on the cards. At the time Ashton said to Planet Rugby:
‘I was sick of leaving my international career in other people’s hands’ — adding — ‘the decision is always made by a coach, and like any player who does not get in I disagreed with that decision. I took it into my own hands not to end my international career, because I hope I will play again one day, but for the time being I chose to go to play rugby abroad’.
This is clear that Jones’ snubbing of Ashton was the only reason Ashton chose to move. Ashton then went on to embarrass Jones for not choosing him, becoming the Top 14’s leading try scorer and scoring a hat trick to beat Jones’ side. Now Ashton’s name has appeared on the team sheet. Wade is likely to do the affliction to Jones in a completely different sport.
This is a glaring problem that is facing English rugby. Wade is now no longer an option for England, being in a different sport, yet he could have been incredible if his talent was given the chance to shine on an international stage.
Another player likely to leave due to Jones’ neglect is Danny Cipriani. He is a massive talent that I’m sure French teams would love to sign. If the international stage seems as though it is out of reach, he may just bow out.
If our coaches — not just Jones, Lancaster also overlooked the players mentioned — continue to ignore players that have the potential to help England win big tournaments, then we will end up driving all of our talented players out of England.