He hadn’t played for two months, so there was a danger that Semi Radradra would get rusty if he made his comeback in Bristol on Saturday, but of course he wasn’t – he was remarkable, as usual.
The Fijian’s return from a knee injury served as another demonstration of his erratic class. In case the penny hasn’t dropped yet, the 28-year-old will go down as one of the greatest cashier talents of all time. The bears are lucky to have it and English rugby is lucky to have it too.
Radradra tormented Harlequins for adding to the huge stash of highlights clips against his name. The charges are scandalous; one-handers, back-handers, no-look efforts, over-the-shoulder, around the corner, off-the-floor and so on. You name it, he will try and he will pin it. Creating space and time for oneself seems just as routine. He makes the game look easy.
Semi Radradra’s imagination and flair were a joy to watch on his return to Bristol Bears
This is a sports genius in our midst. In the 32nd minute on Saturday, Radradra was at the first receiver, ready to take a pass in the Quins half. The visitors knew what was coming, but they couldn’t stop it. Bristol’s outdoor center got in touch and passed a defender to give Piers O’Conor a try. In any case, it was nothing special to him. It was just a normal service.
Defense coaches have no answers. Radradra embarrassed England at Twickenham in the Barbarians’ colors in 2018 and since then no amount of homework has given anyone a solution to the myriad threats he poses.
Plenty of deadly runners have lightened up the Premiership over the years, but Fiji’s best may turn out to be the best of the lot.
About BT Sport, Ugo Monye said: “He creates chaos and confusion and makes you question your ability as a defender. He is 16 stone, he is fast, he is deceitful, he can discharge … he has basically completed rugby! ‘
When Bristol announced in November 2019 that Radradra had signed for them, the news caused shock waves through the sport.
Rugby director Pat Lam tried to explain the magnitude of his transfer market coup by saying, “Every top club in both codes around the world wanted to sign Semi.”
Pat Lam crowed after signing Radradra in 2019 and gigs like Sunday’s show why
His presence is a unique treat. Once the crowds return, his presence should fill grounds across the league and in Europe.
There cannot be anyone in either code who produces as much rugby entertainment as Radradra. Catch it if you can.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland was at Ashton Gate to see another masterclass from Danny Care, who claimed a poacher’s attempt, sent a bold drop goal and retained a personal purple patch for Harlequins.
His form reinforces the unorthodox argument for Gatland to look beyond the current home nations test scrum halves by going all-out with Care (England), John Cooney (Ireland) and Rhys Webb (Wales).
Scotland, meanwhile, are hoping their victory over France will create a significant tartan contingent within the Lions squad.
Warren Gatland has some selection headaches leading up to the Lions tour to South Africa
One problem is they lost to both Wales and Ireland, and another is that two of their standout Six Nations performers were Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, who just happen to be in the most competitive area for selection: the back row.
Stuart Hogg will be taken in by Gatland and prop Rory Sutherland is another worthy of attention.
This column will not participate in the fanfare for Duhan van der Merwe, whose second attempt Scotland won the match in Paris.
Following the great South African recruit quickly to face South Africa feels wrong and unnecessary. If the lions want a big, powerful wing, George North is back to his vintage best.
Worcester’s bitter collapse against Northampton at Sixways on Saturday showed the potentially disruptive impact of the ring fencing in the Premier League.
The Warriors are currently at the bottom of the table, catching up with 11th seed Gloucester, who beat Exeter on Friday-evening.
But Worcester fell apart against the Saints – he gave up 40 points in the last half hour after Chris Ashton was sent off.
Without the desperation of knowing they were fighting for survival, they surrendered to losing 62-14.
Head coach Jonathan Thomas said, ‘That score is not acceptable’ and he is absolutely right – it is not acceptable for his club and it is not acceptable for the closed-shop, no-jeopardy league.
Worcester was cut apart by Northampton and capitulated after Chris Ashton’s broadcast
It was another weekend full of disciplinary problems and struggles. The recent flurry of red and yellow cards continues.
Teams are reduced to 12 or 13-a-side, but the message still doesn’t get through.
Ashton was sent off for an unnecessary shoulder attack in a mess when he had little to gain. Such hollow statements of aggressive intent must be eradicated.
Tom Dunn was fired for putting his arm in Agustin Creevy’s head; another crime that was reckless and avoidable.
Too many players are still aiming too high with tackles in the quest for profit line dominance. The culture has to change, but the clean-up campaign has flaws.
Luke James was brutally thrown out by sin when Josh Bassett slipped, causing his head to collide with the arm of Sale’s fullback, but Leicester No. 8 Jasper Wiese escaped punishment when he flew into a corner, injuring Welsh on Sunday .
Bath’s Tom Dunn trudges against London Irish after being fired for waving arm
Last week, the unusual scenario of rugby politics sparked optimism – not once, but twice.
World Rugby, the global governing body, has announced funding to support the creation of two Super Rugby franchises in the Pacific Islands; Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika.
As long as these teams don’t become academies for Polynesian talent to be ransacked by New Zealand and Australia, this is a great advance that should have been long overdue.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that several prominent All Blacks are opposed to their union’s plans to strike a lucrative deal with American investment firm Silver Lake.
This seems like another welcome example of ethical player power and reflects concerns that the sport might rush to sell its soul for a financial quick fix.
Wales are champions of Europe again and their latest Six Nations title is another triumph for the core of over-30s who will experience the folklore.
Much attention is being paid to the enduring influence of Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones, and with good reason, but he is not the only veteran who will be impossible to replace.
Once again Wales could rely on Jonathan Davies (94 Test caps), Dan Biggar (92), Taulupe Faletau (90), Justin Tipuric (86) and Ken Owens (84), while Leigh Halfpenny (99) contributed to the opening rounds. .
These modern Welsh heroes, along with younger but highly experienced men such as North and Liam Williams, were at the heart of a golden age.
Let’s hope that at a time when social media trolls can give a false impression of public opinion, hope that the Welsh rugby public really appreciates the legends of all times that represent them with distinction.
Wales could count on a core of experienced campaigners to lead them to the Six Nations title
Try the best
Josh Hodge, for Exeter against Gloucester. The fullback ran cross-field, found a gap, went clear with a burst and a hand-off, swerved around a last defender and scored a long-range classic.
As Bristol aspired to win their match against Harlequins and run over the peloton to death, it was somehow inevitable that Kyle Sinckler would score to beat his former club.
Sale became the first club ever to win a Premiership game after picking up four yellow cards, while sentencing Wasps to a fifth straight defeat at home in the process.
Three Premiership games were won with three points or less and two of them; Bristol-Harlequins and Wasps-Sale were settled at the last minute by Callum Sheedy and Rob du Preez.
Ellis Genge said something to Jon Welsh after the warm-ups at Welford Road, the props were straight and had to be separated before Leicester vs Newcastle.
Gallagher Premiership Team of the Week
J Hodge (Exeter); B Loader (London Irish), S Radradra (Bristol), M Atkinson (Gloucester), O Sleightholme (Northampton); G Barton (Gloucester), D Care (Harlequins); J Marler (Harlequins), H Walker (Gloucester), K Sinckler (Bristol); D Attwood (Bristol), H Wells (Leicester); JL du Preez (sale), D du Preez (sale), S Underhill (Bath).
Josh Hodge went on a mazy run against Gloucester before diving for a momentous effort