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Gloucester look to Christian Wade to fill Louis Rees-Zammit vacancy

By Neil Fissler
Racing's Christian Wade (Photo by Franco Arland/Getty Images)

Gloucester are attempting to bring ex-England international Christian Wade back to the Gallagher Premiership to replace Wales speedster Louis Rees-Zammit, who quit the club for the NFL.

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Rees-Zammit is ironically on the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) since January, the same programme that the 32-year-old Wade joined when he quit Wasps in 2018.

Wade spent three seasons as a running back on the Buffalo Bills practice squad and has been playing for Racing 92 in the Top 14 since his return to Europe from America.

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The 2013 British and Irish Lions tourist, who won one Test cap for England, has scored two tries in eight games for Racing this season under Stuart Lancaster after scoring seven in nine games in his first season in France.

With George Skivington desperately trying to bring in fresh blood at Kingsholm, Gloucester are banking on Wade finding the magical touch that saw him touch down 66 times in 115 games with Wasps before leaving for the NFL.

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The Cherry and Whites, who are next to bottom in the Premiership with nine defeats in 12 games, are having trouble getting deals over the line.

Henry Arundell and Joe Cokanasiga both turned down moves to Kingsholm, while Rees-Zammit and Adam Hastings, who is rejoining Glasgow Warriors, both turned their backs on new deals.

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Their only confirmed new signing for the 2024/25 season is Cardiff scrum-half Tomos Williams, who has played in Wales’ three recent Guinness Six Nations defeats.

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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