So the Cardiff version of the 12 Days of Christmas draws to a close, and my review of 2016 finishes up with a nice little plateau into the Cardiff Rugby Life’s 2016 Player of the Year.
Tom James has been a revelation since his return from Exeter Chiefs. The club’s all-time top try scorer seems to have really found his form at the Arms Park once again, finishing sixth in the 2015/16 top try scorer list and scoring his 50th Cardiff try.
The winger has also broken back into the Team Wales setup, adding to his previous ten caps with two appearances during the 2016 Six Nations. Despite all of his tries though, he hasn’t cemented a place amongst Warren Gatland’s plans, despite having the second highest tries per game ratio amongst the Welsh wingers.
A previous falling out with the Wales Head Coach, as well as a persistent foot injury that requires some management, likely haven’t helped. However, the distinct lack of intention to pick players on form is frustrating and has no doubt hindered James’international prospects.
This hasn’t affected TJ’s workrate at all in a blue shirt though, to his absolute credit, where he has cemented himself as a favourite amongst the Arms Park faithful. A decent defender and devastating in attack, with a keen eye for a finish, he’s someone that puts bums on seats and the team is noticeably weaker without him.
His 2016 scoring spree started with a brace against Calvisano in January, before tries against Treviso at home at the end of March and Llanelli away in April finished up 2015/16. September saw the season return and TJ’s lethal form with it as a match winning double in Munster was followed by another score at Zebre.
Four tries in four games against Ospreys, Bristol, Scarlets and Connacht followed stretching across October and November, before a disappointing end to the year came due to injury and illness.
Hopefully though there is a return to fitness on the horizon in 2017 as God knows we are missing James’ try scoring powers at the moment. Whether Gatland would then take notice, who knows? As long as TJ is still burning up the CAP plastic that’s fine by me.
Cardiff Rugby Life’s Player of the Year for 2016 is Tom James.
On the tenth day of Christmas, Danny Wilson gave to me, twelve TJ tries, eleven bonus points, ten new signings, nine Under 20s, eight tries v Treviso, seven missing Welshmen, six Pro12 debuts, five away league wiiins, four derby wins, three derby losses, two Royal Kings and a flying Blaine Scullyyy…