Lam’s vision starts emerging in Bristol
If a single try encapsulated Pat Lam’s vision for Bristol then it would be Henry Purdy’s score against Gloucester last Friday night.
While the try belonged to Purdy, all the kudos went to Semi Radradra. Nearly all rugby fans will have seen the Fijian’s rampaging run – the fends, steps and no-look one-hand offload – that has already drawn hundreds of thousands of views online.
Far less recognised are the cogs behind the wheel, which gave Radradra the platform to tear Gloucester to pieces.
Even Purdy, rather than being the grateful recipient of a gift of an offload, was just as integral to the score as Radradra, according to Lam.
“When you look at the try Semi created for Henry Purdy, everyone sees the no-look offload,” the Bristol director of rugby said. “What people did not see was how Henry started on the outside, came on the inside and screamed ‘I’m on your right, Semi’.
“The fact that Semi did not have to look was down to Henry busting his backside to get there. All of those things are the things we highlighted.
“Even the break he made that he made for the try is from a Bears system.
“Everyone else is doing their jobs. Nathan Hughes gave us the go-forward, Kyle Sinckler ran a good line which created the space and Callum Sheedy gave him a nice ball early. All that space came from the other boys doing their jobs.”
While Radradra arrived at Bristol from Bordeaux on one of rugby union’s fattest contracts, wing Purdy was picked up after being released by Gloucester.
Naturally much of the focus gravitates towards the superstars, but for every Sinckler there is at least one Ed Holmes. The second row arrived with little fanfare on emergency loan from tonight’s opponents, Exeter, and has since established himself as one of the team’s most consistent performers.
“The Bristol Bears culture and everything we stand for is that everyone treats each other like they would be like to be treated,” Holmes said. “There is no divide, say, between the limelight stars and the academy. Across the board players are treated the same.”
After racking up seven consecutive wins, Bristol face their stiffest test yet against Exeter in the clash of the Premiership’s top two. Lam argues what separates Exeter, and previously Saracens, from the rest of the league is the clarity of their vision, which he is now on his way to installing in Bristol.
“Often people ask how you take a Championship player and get him playing really well, but it is just about clarity,” Lam said. “The worst thing is not having clarity. You are not sure on the game plan or what the team is trying to achieve. No matter how much you are being paid, players do not like that.”