Whilst most eyes would have been on the international game over the last few weeks, at the club level, certain players were making waves, too.
With a raft of players away with their international teams, opportunities were handed out to some of the fringe and up and coming youngsters at Gallagher Premiership and Guinness PRO14 sides in November, many of whom grabbed those opportunities with both hands.
Here are some of the players whose RugbyPass Index (RPI) scores have jumped the most over the last few weeks and really put down markers to the incumbents, upon their returns to their clubs this week.
No player’s score has risen so rapidly as Saracens’ Tom Woolstencroft, with the former England U20 hooker posting a score of 36 prior to the internationals and now set to go into the weekend with a score of 55. He has flourished in the absence of Jamie George and Mark McCall will be feeling better about his hooker depth going into next year’s Six Nations.
Similarly, Leicester’s Ben White’s value has risen with Ben Youngs busy with England, as the 20-year-old rose from 47 to 50 after the loss to Gloucester, and from 50 to 55 following the defeat to Saracens at the weekend. Leicester may have struggled during November, but White has certainly not contributed to that.
Not necessarily a result of international call-ups, with Sam Simmonds injured and Dave Ewers and Don Armand unselected, but Exeter Chiefs’ Tom Lawday has also been a significant mover over the last few weeks. Exeter were sorely tested by Bristol Bears two weeks ago, but it was a result which saw Lawday’s score rise from 63 to 67, before exerting a more comfortable victory over Gloucester, a performance in which Lawday brought his score all the way up to 73.
Max Malins was another to profit from Saracens’ international contingent being elsewhere, moving from 57 to 65 over the last two weeks and signalling his readiness to cover for, and push, Owen Farrell on a regular basis. Other notable Premiership risers during the period were Ollie Thorley (57 to 65), Lewis Ludlam (54 to 59) and Freddie Clarke (60 to 66).
In the PRO14, Leinster youngsters were understandably rapid risers, with so many of their teammates away with Ireland. Ciaran Frawley thrived with increased responsibility, moving from 56 to 66 over the month, whilst centre Conor O’Brien also jumped, rising from 65 to 72.
Munster, without Conor Murray, thrust Neil Cronin into the spotlight and were rewarded, with the scrum-half moving from 65 to 71 after a couple of strong displays. Having almost turned his back on rugby last season, the Limerick-born man’s rise this year has been quite the story. He wasn’t the only Munster player to rise, either, with highly-touted fly-half Bill Johnston making a significant 10-point leap from 59 to 69, with Joey Carbery away with Ireland.
Former Wales U20 openside Will Jones also used the window to make his mark, rising from 53 to 61, as the Ospreys fell to defeats to Glasgow Warriors and Leinster. Against Glasgow, Jones played a prominent role as a starter, whilst he offered impact from the bench in a heavy loss to Leinster.
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