D’arcy Alexander Rae
Position – Tighthead prop
Age – 22 (born 21/12/94)
Height – 6’1″ (1.86m)
Weight – 19st 10lbs (125kg)
Minutes played for Glasgow:
2016/17 – 546 (6 starts)
2015/16 – 309 (2 starts)
2014/15 – 12 (0 starts)
This will be season 4 in the Pro 12/14 for D’arcy after making his debut in the competition while on loan to Treviso during a busy 2014/15 campaign that also featured his first Glasgow appearance and a spell with London Scottish. Combined with his age grade rugby honours (including 17 appearances for Scotland u20s – 14 of them as a starter) it’s been all about building solid foundations. There has been steady progress in each year for D’arcy, moving up the Warriors’ pecking order and increasing his game time.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that he still only 22 – just a baby in propping terms. The enhanced development pathways and improvements in strength and conditioning coaching for youngsters are turning out players with the physical capabilities for the professional level. There is still no way to learn the dark arts of scrummaging without getting game time though – and coming up against opponents who know all the tricks of the trade. Pro 14 matches against players with years of experience remain the best education for him.
Over the last season and a half, D’arcy has been a regular part of a Glasgow scrum that prides itself on solidity. The pack’s main focus is on providing the platform to launch the Warriors’ backline so it’s all about quick, clean ball. In the setpiece the success rate on their own put in increased from 83% in 2014/15 to 97% across the 2016/17 season.
That being said there have been moments when Glasgow’s much improved scrum has been able to get on top of their opponents and press home the advantage. Zebre may not provide the sternest opposition but, like all Italian sides, they pride themselves on their setpiece. D’arcy was to the fore at Scotstoun in April when the Warriors dismantled the side from Parma’s scrum. The big tighthead comfortably won his personal battle with experienced Argentinian international Bruno Postiglioni including what would have been an incredibly rare pushover try (but for a bit of mishandling at the back of the scrum by the Warriors).
With the scrum becoming less of an influence on games than in years gone by (and with new law variations being tested that are intended to further encourage getting the ball out of the setpiece and back into open play as possible) every prop has to make a big contribution around the park if they are to really justify their place.
Glasgow’s first choice starters last season were Gordon Reid and Zander Fagerson. Gordy’s focus was clearing / guarding rucks to ensure quick, clean ball for his own side and disruption / minimal space for the opposition. Zander has a slightly freaky workrate for a tighthead and often put out back row level numbers for tackles and carries.
From that point of view it’s been encouraging to see D’arcy’s efforts in the loose increasing even at the same time as he’s been able to solidify his scrummaging.
- Carries per 80 minutes increased from 2.6 in 2015/16 to 7.3 in 2016/17.
- Tackles per 80 minutes increased from 5.7 to 8.1.
- Overall he managed an 86% increase in carries + tackles from season to season.
These numbers are definitely a positive step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see the impact of the recruitment of Oli Kebble on the opposite side of the scrum. The big South African looks like he may get on the ball more often than Gordon Reid did which might in turn entail D’arcy spending more time supporting the carrier and clearing the breakdown. Whatever his duties may be he’s demonstrated he has the fitness and attitude to put his body on the line for the team.
The only thing D’arcy has lacked so far in his competitive matches is a try. He came within inches of a 5-pointer late on at Welford Road against Leicestet, just hitting the touchline before he could ground the ball. There was this Taqele Naiyaravoro-esque run and score in a friendly against the Army at Scotstoun – it’ll be interesting to see if he has any more like this in his locker for the Pro 14 and Champions Cup games to come!
D’arcy Rae is a strong scrummager who is developing a very effective all-round game. He looks ready to step up to the level required of a first team regular – and one with Test match ambitions in the not too distant future too boot.