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Gloucester Rugby: What the Butler saw, with Kingsholm legend Peter Butler

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 31, 2014

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Gloucester are showing stomach for the fight ahead of Wasps test:

Without doubt the Gloucester that beat Exeter on Saturday are in better health than the one which lost to the same side at home back in October.

The match was error-strewn, but in muscling out a victory like they did, the Cherry and Whites are showing some stomach for the fight to get into contention for European qualification.

Three wins out of four in the league is by far the best run of the season for Nigel Davies’ men, although the one loss in that run was a particularly poor performance against Northampton.

But there is a little bit of momentum about the place for the first time this season, and that must feel good for a squad which has toiled through the whole season so far.

Exeter are well-known battlers. They’ve established themselves in the Premiership through sheer strength and determination, so to go down and beat them in a tight game on their own patch is an achievement, particularly with two in the sin-bin at the same time at one point in the game.

It bodes well for the both the rest of this season and next.

I said last week that with the squad strengthening which has happened at Kingsholm, it would a real shame not to see them play in the top European competition, whatever form it takes.

The European Challenge Cup quarter-final is next up against Wasps Sunday, which could represent another avenue to qualification – if that rule still stands once the deal has finally been thrashed out.

With Wasps showing some decent form, it would probably be Gloucester’s best win of the season, but the match has come at a decent stage and victory would be a real momentum-builder.

But progress is all you can ask for, and progress is what I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Whether Trevor Woodman is having an impact or we are seeing players finally come into a bit of form, there is positivity coming out of Kingsholm again and I don’t think it’s misplaced.

Exciting times ahead after clutch of signings:

Last week was the type of promised week that has never come in recent seasons as Gloucester announced a swathe of new signings which will really freshen up the squad next season.

In previous years we have expected and waited for such a batch of new men, but they have never arrived for one reason or another.

But next season we can safely say that some clear attempts have been made to strengthen things at Kingsholm, and it make it an exciting prospect.

Tom Palmer was the headline act of the men who will arrive, but Aled Thomas, Stevie McColl and Tom Isaacs look like solid squad players – and hopefully one or two of them will become more than that.

Overall, you can be nothing but happy with the support the Gloucester board have provided Nigel Davies as he goes about overhauling a squad which had become a bit stagnant over the years.

Maybe the balance had been too much towards keeping players and not refreshing, but that has certainly been redressed this time around.

With so many players coming in there will have to be a settling in period, and it’s up to everyone involved at the club to make that as short as possible.

Because if the new squad can hit the ground running, there are exciting times ahead.

Decision needed soon over European competition:

I'm wondering how long the saga over next season’s European competition is going to last.

I said all along that the threats to boycott were all just a lot of huff and bluster.

The amount of money on the line meant that a deal would always be done, and now we are just waiting for confirmation of that.

Clearly there had to be something done.

Automatic qualification for some and not others was not a level playing ground.

Gloucester have found out that you can really feel out of the picture when you don’t qualify for Europe, and it lessens the prestige of the competition to have some sides in there automatically.

So hopefully sooner rather than later we get a decision from the six nations tasked with deciding what is going to happen. That will give club sides a clear outline of what they have to do to qualify, which ideally should be in place at the start of the season, and not still up in the air with a few games to go.

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  • RoryGlaws33  |  April 01 2014, 7:38PM

    This is all well and good but what a club like Gloucester Rugby really should be doing is to ensure that Rupҽrt Hardҽn, our first choice and most talented tight head prop, starts as many games for Gloucester as is possible.

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