With a handful of games left to play in the premiership and the clock ticking, it is interesting to see some of the moving and shaking that is going on in the clubs this close to season end. What with Johan Ackerman being welcomed in to Castle Grim (and it is living up to that name for more than a couple of reasons at the moment) he has got a lot of work on his hands as David Humphreys number two. Laurie Fisher left under a cloud of last quarter capitulations and despite having his two pennies worth in the rugby paper last weekend, I feel he has actually left a club, that player wise, isn’t in that bad shape.
Lord Laurie bemoaned the lack of England output in the squad as an issue surrounding Gloucester’s performance, but realistically, it is not about England output, but the quality of your first XV wherever they are from! You have internationals that have played or are playing for New Zealand, England and Wales in the Gloucester squad and you even have a prospective 2017 Lion in the form of Ross Moriarty; so what gives? There (on paper at least) appears to be no shortage of player talent available, granted you are possibly not going to make a top of the table troubling squad off the bat, but you should certainly be taking aim at the top third with what is on offer here. For anyone who follows Formula one alongside their rugby, you can align being a Gloucester supporter with being a McLaren fan. All the potential in the world, but the engine is broken. Hopefully Johan has the engineering prowess to instil a couple of extra horsepower in the Cherry and Whites and keep that motor running for a full 80 minutes. So far as I can tell, all the parts are there, someone just needs to screw them together properly!
Gloucester have taken a hit this week with the news that Latta and Batley will be changing their socks for the colours of Bristol and will have a go at plying their trade in the championship next season (I may have jumped the gun there, but I’m fairly certain that is how the season will pan out), but it will be interesting for Batley if nothing else as he will have his day against his former college side and newly promoted championship side Hartpury. Also interesting for Alan Martinovic who left his position of DoR at Hartpury to take up a role as Head of Recruitment and Talent ID at Bristol. Better identify some talent sharpish to get away from the ghosts of his past!
A lot of exciting fixtures on the cards for this weekend, with Gloucester taking on Newcastle, in another must win game to help round out the season without too much disappointment, and Worcester taking on their nearest neighbour in the table standings away at Sale Sharks. Crunch time near the top as well, with Leicester taking on Bath to keep their coveted top third position, so there are plenty of games that you wouldn’t want to put your mortgage on this weekend. A couple of “gimme” games for other teams, with expectation pretty much nailed on for an Exeter victory over Bristol on Saturday and Saracens probably wanting the win a fair bit more than middle table Harlequins, although a full fire power Quins side do have the ability to quite easily rack up 40 points on anyone on the right day.
Your Sunday fixture of Wasps Vs Saints should really be only going one way, but for some reason I feel uneasy about saying it is a dead cert, I think that Saints will be in a similar position of disappointment that Gloucester are and will be looking to make good on any opportunity available to them. It’s not about a silverware or prizes for a lot of these boys at this time of year but about doing the best for your fans and ensuring you know you did everything you could for the team. Take note Jonathan Joseph, it is not about your air max trainers…
Have a great weekend.