Bristol Bears unleashed a new buzzword to the rugby world last week by naming their substitutes ‘System Players’. Those eight players that sit on the bench have undergone some interesting name changes in recent years, perhaps most famously when given the title ‘finishers’ by Eddie Jones.


‘Impact players’ and ‘game changers’ have also been bandied about as the role of the bench has grown all the more important with the increasing speed and physicality of the game.

Such newfangled terms are often the butt of jokes at first, as well as the cause of a fair degree of confusion.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

But with Bristol being a team that never turns down the opportunity to share a meme on social media, they offered a retort to the “rugby nauses”.

The term may have split opinion, but anyone would be hard pressed to find a more impressive collection of ‘system players’ in the Gallagher Premiership over the course of the season.

Harry Thacker and Alapati Leiua both missed out on a starting berth for the 16-12 win against Saracens, as did new signings Kyle Sinckler and Ben Earl, highlighting the firepower throughout the squad.


Given that Pat Lam has players of that calibre, and a genuine world-class operator in the form of Sinckler, at his disposal, it is understandable why their role is as important as those in the starting XV, and why they are befitting of this newly conjured name.

But with superstar Semi Radradra starting at No13, the Fijian is the new focal point of the team, leaving the rebranding of the bench as an afterthought.

The Bears jumped up to second in the Premiership table with the win over Saracens, and sit eight points behind leaders Exeter Chiefs.

Pat Lam’s side are back in action on Friday night when they travel to play Gloucester at Kingsholm.


Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now