On the 9th day of Christmas…

4Day 9 of the Cov Blog’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2019 poll results.

And this time it’s 4th place that’s up for grabs.

And today you voted for:

Jack Ram.

Congratulations, Jack.

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Jack Ram joined Coventry for the start of the 2018/19 season. He was a high profile signing, having won 13 caps for Tonga, including 3 in the 2015 World Cup Finals, as well as representing his country at 7s.

Rowland Winter was full of praise for Ram who had spent the previous season at Doncaster Knights:

‘Jack has an outstanding skill set and his physicality, link play and breakdown skills means he can play across the back row for us. I know he will be a great addition to our team’

Jack acquitted himself well in his first season at Cov, winning the club’s ‘Player of the Year’ and instantly becoming a favourite with supporters. Previously, he had also been voted players’ player of the season at Doncaster and named in the Championship Dream Team which was selected by the coaches of the 12 Championship clubs.

So another Rowland Winter signing with a decent back story.

He has already played 33 games for Cov, starting in 24 of them.

This season he has made 5 appearances in the Championship, 3 of them coming off the bench.

Ram’s pace is such that he is always likely to be the first to the breakdown and his strength and ability to remain on his feet mean he wins Cov more turnovers than most, or penalties when the opposition are forced to hold on to the ball. He has earned the respect of supporters because he doesn’t overcomplicate things, he just gets on with his job, allowing others to do theirs. He is also extremely mobile and most games he will earn Cov good metres in attack, whilst making important tackles in defence that put the opposition under pressure.

Jack Ram first to the breakdown after Jake Sharp’s tackle against Bedford last season (Photo from Google)

Competition for places in the back row is stronger this season than it has been for a long time, with the additions of Ryan Burrows, Luke Wallace and Senitiki Nayalo ensuring that there can be no complacency.

But it is something that Ram is currently relishing:

‘Week to week, I want to play my part. Hopefully I get picked, and if so, that is brilliant for me. If not, I won’t hold any grudges. I will just try to help the team prepare as well as possible.

I feel I am just really lucky to be a part of things at the moment.’

It would appear though, that Ram is probably at his most effective starting games rather than coming on as a ‘finisher’. The Rugby Paper player ratings show a significant difference between the two, as shown below:

At 7.40, Ram has the highest average points score of any Cov player starting 5 or more games (this includes both Championship and Cup games), but this is reduced to 6.25 when he comes on off the bench.

As always, such data is very subjective BUT does this suggest that JR is at his best when the game is tight in the opening 40-50 minutes, rather than when it might be starting to open up as players tire in the final quarter? In all honesty, it’s not something that I would have noticed, but it might be worth keeping a look out in future games.

Every now and again, there’s a ‘15 Questions with…‘ interview on the club website and Jack Ram was one of first players to take part, back in July 2018. It’s a shame they seem to have dried up because although they were very superficial in terms of the type of questions asked, they often threw up some interesting answers.

Take JR’s response to the question, ‘Why did you join Coventry?’

Expected answers might be along the lines of ‘it’s an ambitious club’, ‘I want to be at a club challenging for the top positions in the league’ or ‘it’s a club going places with great support’ and so on…

…but no, Jack’s response of ‘I want to experience their style of rugby’ hints of a) the way that Cov was perceived by Championship sides in the year of the club’s promotion and b) a little of the discussions that might have taken place between Rowland Winter and Jack Ram before pen was put to paper. For a player who has played international 7s, maybe the prospect of a more open, attacking style of rugby than is the norm in the Championship was a factor in persuading Jack that his future lay with Cov.

If that was the case, I’m not entirely sure last season entirely lived up to his expectations…?

15 Questions with Jack Ram

Age: 31

Place of birth: Sydney, Australia.

Height: 1.83m

Weight: 105kg

Where did You start play rugby: In Tonga at high school

Career highlight to date: Man of the match at the 2015 Rugby World Cup vs Namibia

Why did you join Coventry: Want to experience their style of rugby

What are you most looking forward to at Coventry: Wearing the Coventry jersey on the field alongside the boys

Tell me something interesting about yourself the fans would like: N/A

If you weren’t playingrugby, what would you be doing: I’ll be back in the island farming

Do you follow any other sports: Not really

Favourite music artist/band: Westlife

Favourite all time player: George Smith

Favourite movie: Pirates of the Caribbean

Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter and why: Dan Carter because he has won back to back Rugby World Cup titles and plus I have played against him

4th place in the MVP poll suggests that even with several high profile back row players joining Cov this season, supporters still feel that Ram is a highly valuable asset and someone who remains important to the success of the club, at least in the short term.

I’m not a great fan of Westlife myself (to put it mildly) but with the help of my daughters maybe it’s a case of ‘I Wanna Grow Old With You‘ or even ‘Against All Odds‘, although certainly not ‘Seasons in the Sun‘.

Well done, Jack!

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It’s the 10th Day of Christmas tomorrow and the top 3 places are still to be settled.

Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Day 9 – Jack Ram
Day 8 – Rob Knox (5th)
Day 7 – Rory Jennings and Will Maisey (6th)
Day 6 – Pete White (7th)
Day 5 – Tony Fenner (8th)
Day 4 – Luke Wallace (9th)
Day 3 – Henry Purdy (10th)
Day 2 – Adam Peters (11th)
Day 1 – Senitiki Nayalo (12th)

Author: Tim

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