Tuesday Oct 10, 2017 RUGBYDUMP WEEKLY: Are Gloucester getting back on track?

RUGBYDUMP WEEKLY: Are Gloucester getting back on track?
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Rugbydump Weekly is a new series of features written by former England Rugby reporter and performance analyst Shay Waterworth. This week he looks at the see-sawing form and internal structure of Gloucester rugby club.

Gloucester knocked Northampton off the top of the premiership on Saturday with a 29-24 win at Kingsholm Stadium, but is this a turning point for the west country side or just an anomaly?

The result on Saturday was Gloucester’s third home win of the season, but they are yet to win an away match and suffered a record 57-10 loss against Sale Sharks in round five.

Although Gloucester are currently on a 50% win ratio, they could end up 10th in the Premiership by November if the trend continues.

The recent departure of Laurie Fisher and Jonny May could be contributing factors to their poor away form, but this is no new trend. Last season Gloucester beat two teams away from home and three in the two seasons proceeding that.

CHANGE NEEDED?

“Gloucester have got issues from top to bottom,” said former Gloucester and Scotland second row Jim Hamilton on the RugbyPod podcast. “We’re talking about a build-up of issues over several years.

“Gloucester has household names and has done for years, but it isn’t working for them. The amount of coaching changes too, Laurie Fisher recently left and then they brought in Johan Ackermann to join David Humphreys, but who’s running the show? There’s no sustainability for the coaches.

“I would let the high profile, big earners’ contracts run and get rid of them. I would manage the expectations of the club and say that they aren’t a top six club.”

MONEY FIX

World Cup winner and former All Black prop John Afoa joined the cherry and whites in 2013 to become the third highest paid player in Europe at the time.

According to former England fly half Andy Goode, Gloucester’s squad expenditure is in the top four in the Premiership and Hamilton says Humphries is the second highest paid director of rugby in the league.

Hamilton added: “Gloucester have got an unbelieveable demographic of good rugby players. Hartpury College train on the same facilities as Gloucester and I’d be looking to bring in more guys from there.

“Where’s the leadership, where are the guys with proper experience? I’d have Tom Savage as captain, he’s a guy that plays week in, week out.”

CROWD FACTOR

Home advantage is often influenced by the supporters and Kingsholm is widely understood to have one of the best atmospheres in the Premiership.

Hamilton, who retired last season at Saracens, said: “At Gloucester, even when I was there, the media and fans always talk about the crowd (at Kingsholm).

“They’re great, when they’re on form they’re like a French crowd, they give you that adrenaline and they back the team. But what I found at Saracens, which has a small fan base, is that when the crowd aren’t there, where do the players get their energy from?

“If I could go back to when I played and captained at Gloucester I would think differently. You can’t used the crowd to motivate you. It’s an external factor for the team so yes the Gloucester crowd are great, but stop using it as a motivation.

“You have to use each other, look around at your teammates and motivate each other by doing good things,” Hamilton said.

RECRUITMENT

International players Greig Laidlaw, James Hook, Matt Kvesic and Jonny May all left Gloucester over the summer, but second row Ed Slater joined the squad from Leicester Tigers and he expressed his beliefs that Gloucester are on the right track.

“They’re definitely going through a rebuilding phase,” said Slater. “Obviously Laurie left the club and they went out to find the best coach they could and they came up with Johan Ackermann, who I think is a great coach with a big pedigree.

“Over the summer they made some big signings and when you look at it on paper, it is actually a very strong squad.”

Whether or not Gloucester are back on track to push further up the Premiership table and play top flight European rugby, one thing is for certain, the focus remains on their away form.

5 Comments

  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    It was mentioned on a podcast last week, I think it was the rugby pod. Both Goode and Hamilton seemed to agree that they were top 4 in expenditure and their info is usually reliable. Their director of rugby is the 2nd highest paid in the league too, behind Dai Young. I think Afoa will be on a lot of money, he was excellent for Ulster. I'd imagine Woodward, Slater, Hibbard and Thrush are all being paid a decent amount too. I agree that there isn't enough talent in that squad to justify being top 4 for expenditure, and some of their biggest earners aren't really performing well enough to justify their salary.

    Reply
  •  abg0201
    abg0201

    Whilst I don't disagree in anything that's been written here, there is nothing new and the comments have been lifted directly from The Rugby Pod, which is somewhat lazy journalism. As far as Gloucester are concerned, staying up is a must followed by 7th place would be good. Top six at this point would ask too much of a developing side. Net year may be.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Genuine question. How do you know they are in the top 4 in terms of expenditure? If that's true then I'd say their current showing is pretty pathetic. The more I look at the squad the more I can't work out which players are getting paid large amounts.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    Far too early to say. Whenever Gloucester play, you get the feeling that they could lose by 30 or win by 30. Their performance at Sale was embarrassing. For a team that is in the top 4 in terms of their salary expenditure, I don't think they get a good return from their money. Their big names in the front row have not performed imo and I wouldn't be in a rush to renew Afoa and Hibbard's contracts.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Easy answer - no. They are getting comprehensively beaten away from home without getting a bonus point and are only just winning their home games giving a losing bonus point to all visiting teams so far, including Worcester who are bottom of the pile. It took a last minute try to beat Exeter and they just held off Northampton last weekend who had a driving maul set up 5m out but had a bit of obstruction and gave away a penalty with the last play. The only encouraigng sign is Trinder's form/injury-free run, as he would have been mixing it with JJ/Daly/Slade for England 13 if he had not been. They may get back on track following this reshuffle and Ackerman has form for being able to turn a side around, but they are at the start of a long road.

    Reply

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RUGBYDUMP WEEKLY: Are Gloucester getting back on track? | RugbyDump