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What the Butler Saw: Gloucester Rugby legend Peter Butler's view of the rugby world

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 07, 2014

By Peter Butler

What the Butler Saw: Gloucester Rugby legend Peter Butler's view of the rugby world
Comments (1)

A WIN away at Wasps always looked a bit too much to ask given the season Gloucester have had, but to roll over in the manner they did in the first half was pretty disappointing to watch.

Wasps are only a place and three points above Gloucester in the Premiership table, but judging by Sunday’s game there is a much wider gulf between the two sides in reality.

I know the Cherry and Whites were away from home, but given the side Nigel Davies was able to put out, you would have expected more of a fight in what was the last chance of silverware this season in the European Challenge Cup.

Gloucester only came to life deep into the second half when the game was pretty much lost and although there might have been a bit of a fright for the home side, it never developed into a full-blown comeback.

Enough has been said about the limitations in the Gloucester squad and the way they have under-performed all season, plummeting from top four hopefuls into the bottom half of the table.

But when big games like this come around you get a true measure of where the side is at, and that was shown up as not good enough yet again.

As in the Northampton game a few weeks back, this Gloucester side seem never far from a really poor performance.

In a big European quarter-final you expected players to front up.

If they had gone down fighting to a better team that would have been absolutely fair enough.

But instead after dangling the carrot that maybe a bit of form was developing after an away win at Exeter last week, for 50 minutes at Wasps they never turned up.

From now the focus has to be on reaching that top six or seven in the Premiership table.

There seems to be a feeling of waiting for next season around the whole club and that could prove incredibly damaging.

Davies needs to get the message across to the players that it’s the here and now that matters.

The problem is that several of them are leaving at the end of the season, so it makes it difficult to motivate them to fight for the Gloucester cause.

WHAT A GREAT CHANCE TO EARN SOME BROWNIE POINTS

THE small matter of a league game against Bath at Kingsholm is next up for the Cherry and Whites.

If ever there was an opportunity to repay the fans for some of the awful performances served up this season, this is it.

A victory over their West Country rivals to boost their league position and harm Bath’s attempts at making the play-offs could put a spring in everyone’s step, especially in front of a full house.

Gloucester haven’t played at home for a couple of weeks so the fans will be ready to see their team put in a proper performance, unlike the first half against Wasps.

I’m not sure what Nigel Davies will do with his selection. I felt the team for Wasps looked strong and could have a real go at a cup victory, but that didn’t materialise.

Davies will know what he is seeing in training and I urge him to pick the players he feels will front up for the shirt in such a crucial match, both in terms of league position and bragging rights.

Kingsholm wins have been far too rare this season. It’s time for Gloucester to show at least a little bit of what they are capable of to give the fans something to clutch on to.

JONNY DESERVES A FITTING SEND-OFF AFTER SUCH A MAGNIFICENT CAREER

IT WOULD be a real shame if Jonny Wilkinson’s injury playing for Toulon against Leinster on the weekend spells the end of his rugby career.

Just when it looked like Toulon might give him the ultimate end to his playing career, he hobbled off with an innocuous injury in the first half of the victory over the Irish.

The strength of the squad the French have was shown when they hardly noticed Wilkinson’s absence, going on to win the game comfortably.

Hopefully Wilkinson can make it back for the semi-final or the final.

After a career initially blessed with so much success, then with several serious injuries, before returning to success again with Toulon, you would never begrudge him one last trophy.

For England fans that drop goal in the 2003 World Cup is a memory which will never dim.

Wilkinson has been a true professional throughout his career, showing so much respect for the game and those who play it.

Let’s hope he gets to bow out in fine fashion as only one of the modern greats of the game deserves.

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  • walker1305  |  April 10 2014, 6:54PM

    And that game against Wasps, ladies and gentlemen, is an abject lesson in precisely what happens when our first choice and best tight head, Rupҽrt Hardҽn, is unavailable to start. Mullered in scrum after scrum throughout the game with the result that the one of weakest teams in the league is able walk away with the win.

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