Richmond will be without dual All-Australian defender Alex Rance for key games against Port Adelaide and Hawthorn across the next fortnight, but they finally welcome back star midfielder Brett Deledio. Much has been made of Deledio’s influence on a game and that the Tigers winning record without him in the team is poorly. Though it’s not spoken about as much, if at all, Rance too has just as much influence on a game and likewise Richmond’s winning record without him in the team is also poorly.
Rance was drafted with the 18th pick in the 2007 National Draft, but he wouldn’t make his AFL debut until Round 2 of the 2009 season vs. Geelong. In that game he had 18 disposals, six marks and two tackles. Richmond lost that game and would go on to lose three consecutive matches before Rance experienced his first win at AFL level in Round 5 against North Melbourne. Two weeks later, he was involved in a head clash with Brisbane’s Troy Selwood and suffered three small cheekbone fractures. Rance missed the next three rounds as a result and in that period of time, Rounds 8-10, Richmond lost to Port Adelaide and Essendon but beat Fremantle.
In the 2010 season, the developing defender missed the opening two rounds and also didn’t play in Rounds 10-16 and again in Rounds 18-20. The reason behind why Rance missed these games is presumably either through injury or omission. Richmond suffered losses to Carlton and the Western Bulldogs in the opening two rounds of the season and between Rounds 10-16 the Tigers beat Port Adelaide, lost to St.Kilda, beat West Coast, Brisbane, Sydney and Fremantle but lost to North Melbourne. Meanwhile between Rounds 18-20, Richmond beat Adelaide but lost to both Melbourne and Carlton.
Rance again missed some senior football in the 2011 season as well, this time between Rounds 2-4. In his absence, Richmond drew with St.Kilda but lost to both Hawthorn and Collingwood. He finally got some consistency in his football and would play every game of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. It was 2013 that stood out though – his best season to date, even though he would go on to claim All-Australian honours in the following two seasons. In 2013 however, he built form after a slow start and pushed for All-Australian selection off the back of producing the best of his six seasons to date at the time. He was ranked ninth of the AFL for marks, third at Richmond for contested marks and top 10 for kicks and handballs. He would often play of the League’s best tall forwards and beat them whilst also offering good rebound from the back half. He was equally courageous and vital to the Tigers’ climb up the ladder.
The following season, Rance played in the untraditional season opener against Gold Coast before sustaining a fracture in his foot after falling off his bike. Confusion surrounded his absence, with suggestions the emerging backman had been dropped. He missed Rounds 2-6 of that season – Richmond would go on to beat Carlton, lose to the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood, beat Brisbane but lose to Hawthorn.
The All-Australian defender played every game last season, but it wasn’t without some form of controversy. In the early parts of the 2015 season, Rance was strongly linked with a free agency move to other AFL clubs, specifically Fremantle and Brisbane. His playing future was under speculation with reports emerging that he was considering retiring. However, in June he ended the speculation by signing a four-year contract extension that will keep him at Richmond until at least the end of the 2019 season. His season was thus rewarded with the Jack Dyer Medal as the Club’s best and fairest player. Prior to the commencement of this season, Rance was voted into the leadership group.
So a look at the numbers of Richmond without Rance...between 2009-2011 Richmond won seven of the 18 games he missed. In 2014 meanwhile, Richmond won two of the four games the defender missed. Therefore, when Rance hasn’t donned the Yellow and Black for whatever reason across his career, Richmond has won just nine of the 22 games Rance has missed. After he serves his two-match suspension, this will be extended to 24 games. The man himself believes that his team can win games in his absence, but it remains to be seen if that will eventuate as yet.
Do you think Richmond can win without Rance?