Speed, strength, supreme skill – ‘Ran-thru-ya’ has every­thing

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - Brian Moore

Watch­ing the Glouces­ter v Bris­tol Bears game over the week­end I spared a thought for the BT com­men­ta­tor. Get­ting the names of play­ers cor­rect is now some­thing that draws in­or­di­nate com­ment on so­cial me­dia, where your au­di­ence is un­for­giv­ing. In some ways they are cor­rect, it is pro­fes­sional and re­spect­ful to find out how to pro­nounce an un­usual name. It is no longer seen as funny to have a go and make a mess of a name.

What do you do in the case of one of the Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship’s new­est and bright­est ad­di­tions, Semi Radradra, where there are dif­fer­ent and tech­ni­cally cor­rect pro­nun­ci­a­tions? Is his sur­name pro­nounced Radrad-ra or Rand-rand-ra?

Of­fi­cially, I un­der­stand it is the lat­ter, but that will not have stopped peo­ple fling­ing in­sults at the poor com­men­ta­tor.

It is much eas­ier if the player gets a nick­name and you can use that, so to aid fel­low com­men­ta­tors can I sug­gest one of the fol­low­ing: Ran-round-ya, Ran-over-ya or

Ran-thru-ya. If you have seen him play you will con­cur that any of those can be used with­out de­mur.

The thing about the Fi­jian wing/ cen­tre is that he has not just a re­mark­able phys­i­cal pres­ence, though he has that, but an over­all pack­age that adds bal­ance, fleet-foot­ed­ness, speed and dex­ter­ity.

His car­ry­ing abil­ity means that de­fend­ers have the un­en­vi­able task of try­ing to an­tic­i­pate sev­eral things, none of which are easy and all of which re­sult in com­pro­mise in some guise.

Is he go­ing to re­ceive the pass or is he be­ing used as a de­coy run­ner? The wiser choice is to as­sume he is go­ing to get the ball be­cause if you try to drift on to an­other player and he does get the ball you will not get to make a full shoul­der tackle and with­out that you will never bring him down.

Get­ting a proper tackle in is also made harder by Radradra’s con­stant shift­ing of weight. He does not just run straight and hard, he steps off both feet and, again, if you are slightly wrong-footed you can­not make an ef­fec­tive tackle. Do you try to tackle low or higher? Go low and you stop his run, but this prob­a­bly leaves his arms free to pass out of the tackle, and he is in­cred­i­bly good at of­fload­ing the ball. Go higher and you risk be­ing shrugged off by a shoul­der or a mighty fend­ing arm and, even if you do stop him, he has the skill to pass one-handed and ac­cu­rately.

The Glouces­ter de­fence coped rea­son­ably well, but could not stop Radradra mak­ing sem­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions by cre­at­ing and scor­ing tries. And lest you think Radradra is just a beau­ti­ful run­ner; he was street­wise/cyn­i­cal enough to get away with tug­ging Jack Cle­ment’s shirt, which stopped a prob­a­ble Glouces­ter try and he evaded a likely yel­low card.

For the rest of the Pre­mier­ship, the bad news is that Radradra is likely to be­come more ef­fec­tive as his team start to in­stinc­tively play off him and learn how to use him most ef­fec­tively.

For the Bris­tol coach, Pat Lam, this is a key point be­cause, al­though Radradra is the sort of player you can throw the ball to and ex­pect him to cre­ate some­thing, you gain much more as a team if you can bring the best out of sur­round­ing play­ers. Cre­at­ing sev­eral po­ten­tial ball car­ri­ers and clean break run­ners will mean de­fences have more than Radradra to worry about which, in turn, makes the Fi­jian’s job eas­ier – and so it goes on.

You could – and many do – say that the amount of money spent at Bris­tol means they are bound to be ti­tle chal­lengers but, while money makes a chal­lenge eas­ier, it is no guar­an­tee of success. Bris­tol fans need only look a few miles down the road to Bath to see that con­sis­tency and qual­ity in re­cruit­ment of coaches and play­ers is not guar­an­teed from a rich bene­fac­tor. I am sure Lam knows that there is still some way to go be­fore Bris­tol can ha­bit­u­ally con­test do­mes­tic and Euro­pean tro­phies and the cru­cial point is to make log­i­cal and sus­tain­able ad­vances each sea­son, in the way that Ex­eter se­cured then en­hanced their Pre­mier­ship cre­den­tials.

Bris­tol’s start­ing XV can live with the best of the Pre­mier­ship but, over­all, the squad do not yet match up.

The week­end’s rugby de­mands a note is quickly made of the form of two house­hold names: Johnny Sex­ton and Owen Far­rell. Both looked in out­stand­ing fet­tle and, though Sex­ton is now 35, the en­forced break has given him time to rid him­self of in­jury nig­gles and recharge his en­thu­si­asm. Like­wise with Far­rell, who ap­pears fresh and hun­gry, a lim­ited sea­son in the cham­pi­onship might ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit him given the amount of rugby lead­ing play­ers will be asked to play as a re­sult of sea­sons com­pro­mised by Covid-19.

The Fi­jian is likely to be­come more ef­fec­tive as his team start to in­stinc­tively play off him

Here comes trou­ble: Bris­tol’s Fi­jian wing Semi Radradra runs at the Glouces­ter de­fence dur­ing his team’s Pre­mier­ship win on Fri­day

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