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'What a trooper': The pain barrier on-loan Lane battled at Bristol

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

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Emergency Bristol full-back Rich Lane has likely played the last time for the Bears as an injury sustained in last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup loss to Sale will sideline him for the remainder of his loan spell from Bedford. The 28-year-old was playing Championship rugby as recently as February 27 this year when the Blues won away at Nottingham.  

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Just seven weeks later, Lane was lining out for the biggest match of his club career, starting at full-back for Bristol in their round of 16 European second leg game at Ashton Gate after four Bears appearances in the weeks leading up then, two in the Gallagher Premiership and two more in the Premiership Cup. 

Lane previously played four times in the Challenge Cup in the 2013/14 season at Bath, his three-year spell there ending without him playing in any Premiership game. He since played two years for Jersey in the Championship and was just coming to the end of his fifth season in the second-tier league at Bedford when the call came from Pat Lam asking would he be interested in a loan switch to Bristol.  

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The full-back said yes and having debuted on March 13 versus league champions Harlequins, Lane was chosen for his fifth Bristol start when Sale came to town last weekend for the all-English clash in Europe. He only played the first half, a pre-arranged plan by Lam who wanted to bring marquee player Charles Piutau off the bench for the start of the second half. 

But it has since emerged that Lane played through the pain barrier for Bristol with an injury that will mean he has played the last time for the Bears. Asked by RugbyPass what he had made of the contribution of the No15 in his short spell since arriving at the club, Lam replied: “About seven minutes into the game he got stood on.

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“Arron Reed went to step left and he landed right on top of Richard’s foot so it broke this third bone in his foot but what a trooper – he went right the way to half-time. He just limped around and he made a try-saving tackle when they poked their nose through. We thought it was just bruising on his foot but he went through (to the interval). He knew he was only doing 40 anyway and Charles would do the second 40, but he guts it out and when was saw the scans and it was a clean break. That’s tough. 

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“That says a lot about him as far as his character goes. As a player, his coverage and understanding at full-back, it’s the only position he plays and that is why we looked at him because we had a lot of guys at full-back, wingers playing full-back or centres playing full-back outside of Charles. He has shown he can play at this level. 

“The injury will be six weeks. With the season (soon coming to an end), that is going to rule him out,” continued Lam, who added that the on-loan Lane had showcased sufficient talent to suggest he would be a fine player at Premiership level.

“There are players everywhere in the Championship, in the different leagues if you look for them and it all comes back to what you are looking for. We went for Rich because we really wanted a leader in that full-back position when Charles was unavailable.

“We wanted someone that really understood the role well, particularly backfield coverage. So we went looking for it and we found it. We knew Rich because when we played in the Championship (in 2017/18) he cut us open back then, but he has come up here and shown that he certainly belongs at this level.” 

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