NOLA Gold Rugby signed Chris Schade for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 32-year-old loosehead prop/hooker (33 in May) is 5’10”, and 240 lbs. Chris will provide depth and coverage for 2023.
Chris spent the last two weeks at Chula Vista Elite Training Center with the Legion ahead of their scrimmage against Austin Gilgronis on Jan 21, 2022. He provided injury cover for both the 2022 and 2021 seasons but did not see regular-season action. Chris also played for Columbus Rugby Club as a player-coach in 2022.
In 2021 he could have been on the roster for others, however, he elected to recover fully from ankle injuries. He also played with Scioto Valley (Columbus Rugby Club, Ohio Selects & captained the resurgence of the Midwest Thunderbirds against the Outlaws.
Chris played 144 minutes in two starts and scored one try for the Austin Gilgronis in 2020. He played 395 minutes in 9 matches in 2019 and scored 2 tries. He carried 38 times for 152 meters, had 2 tackle breaks, and made 57 tackles. An injury curtailed his season and he returns to the team ready to play in 2020. Chris also played 617 minutes in his 8 starts in 2018.
Chris grew up in Canfield, Ohio, near Youngstown. He went to Canfield High School from 2005-2008 and played hockey and football. He then attended Ohio University from 2008-2012. He played rugby and helped the team advance to the D2 Final in 2011. The following year, the team moved to D1AA. He captained the side and was named to the first all-MAC team in 2012. he also was selected to the Ohio Collegiate Selects every year, but was not able to attend tournaments due to scheduling conflicts.
His inclusion on Ohio Selects led to an introduction to Paul Holmes, who convinced him to play with 1823 in the summers. He competed for 1823 from 2010-2017 with the team appearing multiple times in USA Club 7s Nationals with their best finish in 4th place.
Chris graduated from Ohio University with a BBA in Marketing & Management and a Minor in Communications. He then moved to Columbus and started playing for Scioto Valley from 2012-present and was also in the first Tiger Academy group in Columbus. Paul recruited several colleges and recent college graduates to obtain jobs in Columbus while playing for 1823. He trained with the Academy until the Columbus location closed in 2017.
Chris also went on his first Atlantis Rugby Tour to Trinidad and Tobago in 2014, to Barbados in 2016, and the Las Vegas Invitational twice. he also played with 1823/Tiger Academy several other times.
He made his professional rugby debut with the Ohio Aviators in 2016, played with Burnside RFC in the Christchurch New Zealand Metro Division 1 Hawkins Cup in 2017, and Austin Elite from 2018 to the present.
He also played representative rugby with the USA Rugby South Panthers against the Capital Selects in 2016 and the Savannah tournament. His ties to the Tiger Rugby North Carolina Academy lead him to play with the USA south
Chris began playing rugby as a flanker and later as a hooker at Scioto Valley. “Joe Taufete’e also played with the team, but even when I hooked and he propped, he threw in. Otherwise, I would play #7 and he would hook.” With the Ohio Aviators Chris made the transition to hooker. With Austin Elite Rugby in 2018, the team needed additional props and this led to him playing loosehead, as well as at hooker based on team needs. He even played one match at tighthead, although that proved challenging.
In 2018 he was about 230 lbs throughout the season, worked hard on technique, and held his own in the scrums. In 2019 the team planned on having him play loosehead prop, so he is around 250+ lbs. Until some of the international players arrived, he also played hooker.
Chris’s work experience includes a sales internship in South Carolina for one summer. Later he was employed by Randstad, a large staffing agency, in Columbus, Christchurch, and then in Austin, Texas. He needed to leave the organization when Austin Elite Rugby switched to a full-time schedule. Currently, he is involved with team apparel sales with Belief Sports USA.
Playing Major League Rugby is a balancing act as many players either maintain full-time jobs or balance playing professionally with additional employment.
Special thanks to Chris for his major contributions to this article. I wish him well as he continues playing the game that he loves.