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The Big Interview: Jordan Crane

The Big Interview: Jordan Crane

With more than 10,000 minutes and 168 Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches under his belt, Jordan Crane can offer experience that few players in the league can.

That experience at No.8 is seemingly proving beneficial to the ever-impressive Bristol Bears this season, a team currently defying the usual odds of the promoted team being relegation favourites.

The Bears currently lie tenth in the top flight and had reason to celebrate after reaching the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals at the weekend – impressive stuff in the West Country and all achieved with plenty of attractive rugby.

And Crane, 32, previously of Leeds Tykes and Leicester Tigers before joining Bristol in 2016, is clearly enjoying the ride.

“I’m absolutely loving it here!” He said. “Since Pat Lam came in (Lam joined the Bears as head coach from Connacht in summer 2017) the place has been completely different and it’s been really enjoyable for us as players – we’ve got a real identity now.

“I think you can see that out on the pitch for us, we’re obviously coming in as the promoted team – usually the favourites to go down – but some of the games we’ve played we’ve managed to do really well.

“If we can have a good period over the Six Nations there’s no reason why we can’t be sitting top four or top six after that.”

In Crane’s first season at Bristol (2016-17) the club finished rock bottom of the division but after dominating the Championship last season the newly-branded Bears have found their teeth.

The league table doesn’t lie, nor does their free-flowing rugby, and as outsiders it’s easy to see that something has changed at the famous old club, but how exactly has Lam achieved that feat?

“Obviously he had a good idea of what he wanted and the direction he wanted the club to go in,” continued Crane, who won three England caps in 2008-2009. “He said on his first day that you’re either on the bus or you’re off it.

“Some players throughout his time here have sort of fell by the wayside and it’s not because they’re bad people or bad players, they just didn’t fit what Pat’s trying to get across.

“Everyone’s got to buy into it or you’re going to struggle to get that team culture.

“Obviously it was a lot easier last year when we were winning every week, this year it’s tougher and you’ve got to deal with the highs and lows but our culture’s getting us through.

“Within five years I don’t see why Bristol can’t be at the top of the league and going for Europe and all those things you associate with the big clubs like Leicester, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens now.”

The 6ft 3in industrious back rower, who spent ten years in a highly-successful Tigers team, is clearly loving life on the pitch but is typically busy off it too, coaching two days a week at North Bristol.

And while we’ve been well acquainted with the name Crane in rugby circles for 15-or-so years now, it seems the next generation is already well on the way.

“I’m occupied off the pitch by two small children,” continued Crane, who won four Premiership titles at Leicester. “I’ve got a two-year-old boy (Hunter) and a four year-old girl (Harley).

“My wife’s got her own business so we split things – when I’m home from training I take the kids and when I go she takes over – it’s pretty full on!

“My son’s absolutely rugby mad as well so that’s nice, he was mascot at the weekend which absolutely made his day.

“He seems to have fallen in love with rugby at a young age which is nice – I don’t think he wants to be a No.8 though – he wants to be a No.10!”

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