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The England phonecall that was final straw for Christian Wade

By Ian Cameron
Christian Wade of England runs in his second try during the England XV v Barbarians match at Twickenham Stadium on May 31, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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Former England and Wasps winger Christian Wade admits his frustration with England selection got to the point where he didn’t even bother answering the phone to then head coach Stuart Lancaster.

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Wade, who was recently released by the Buffalo Bills after three years in the NFL, is now assessing his options in both codes as a free agent. The 31-year-old could yet return to rugby, despite exiting the sport exasperated by his lack of recognition at Test level.

Despite a proven ability as a tryscorer, Wade was continually overlooked by successive England coaching regimes.

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Speaking to the ‘Giving the Game Away’ podcast, Wade says he was tired of the ‘BS’ reasons for his exclusion from the national squad, citing one such incident in the lead up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, that would prove a turning point in his mind.

England hammered the Barbarians 73 – 12 in Twickenham in the summer of 2015, with Wade scoring a hattrick of tries after running riot against the famous invitational club. Yet still it wasn’t enough for the Wasps flyer to break into England wider 50-man World Cup squad under Lancaster.

“We killed them. I scored a hattrick. And that was kind of our trial for the 50-man World Cup squad.

“After the game, as usual, no one was really saying anything to me. About two weeks later I had a call from Lancaster.

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“At that point I didn’t pick up. I was like why are you calling me? I listened to the voicemail he left and he said ‘Hey mate, good game the other day. Some good tries as usual. But we’re going to go with Rokoduguni for the 50-man squad because we want to see how he goes, you’ve had your opportunity.’

“In my head I’m like what do you mean? How can you go from somebody in the squad because I’ve had my opportunity.

“That’s why I didn’t pick up. I knew it was going to be some BS to be honest.”

Wade admits not making the home World Cup was the final straw for his England career.

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“For sure. From there I was just like… if since a kid all you wanted to do was play for England, and that’s all they push down on us, play for England, play for England. But then to play for England is based on one guy’s decision about whether you play or not.

“Now I’m not knocking any individuals, but at the same time, what are you basing your selections on? If you’ve got somebody who is at the top of their game, killing everybody, making fans on the edge of their seats the whole game… this is stuff I’m just reading, I’m not trying to big myself up. I don’t even care about that stuff.

“All I care is that if you’re the best player, that person should have the opportunity to show what you can do on that stage.

“I just got to the point where I’m not going to keep trying to please this one man because that’s not why I’m playing this game in the first place.”

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