I HAD already written an article supporting Nigel Davies and saying he was the man to lead Gloucester into next season when I heard of his sacking on Monday morning.
That’s not to say I don’t fully understand why the board has made this move, but I felt the Welshman had earned the right to try and turn a bad situation around.
Remember, Gloucester were in pieces when Davies joined the club following the departure of Bryan Redpath, and the former Scarlets man had an excellent first season.
But his second campaign in charge has been a true fall from grace.
A year in rugby is usually full of periods of good and bad form, whereas Gloucester never really got going this season, one of the most disappointing of the professional era.
Davies’ squad was imbalanced from the start.
Whether recruitment plans failed to come to fruition or he took a risk that didn’t come off, you have to say the squad this season simply wasn’t up to it, and the boss has paid for that with his job.
I’m pleased the Gloucester board has been so decisive. This move has clearly been thought about for a long time.
I wouldn’t imagine the defeat to Worcester had any influence on it, although if anyone in the hierarchy was looking for confirmation that the decision was correct, Saturday’s match offered it up on a plate.
When news of ‘the approach that never was’ to Dean Richards came out in the media, it was an indication Gloucester were at least looking at who was available.
It just seemed strange at the time to have allowed Davies to invest so heavily and then consider getting rid of him.
It makes you wonder exactly how much say Davies had in the recruitment.
Clearly everything had to be at least ratified by the board and now they have made this move, it suggests their involvement was much more than that.
I would imagine there is a shortlist already drawn up regarding who will succeed Davies at Kingsholm.
Clearly Newcastle boss Richards figured on a list somewhere along the line, and although he ruled himself out when he was asked a few months back, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the running.
Whoever comes in, the Gloucester board now have to follow up one big decision with another, and hopefully the future proves they got both of them right.
Summer schedule is a joke
IT LOOKS like Billy Twelvetrees is at best touch and go for the England tour of New Zealand and that is a real shame for the Gloucester centre.
He is one of a number of players likely to be missing for England, particularly in the first Test due to a scheduling error (more of which later).
Even if Twelvetrees does get fit, there will be question marks over his match sharpness, and that’s the last thing you need when the All Blacks are your opponents.
Stuart Lancaster will be rightly frustrated about the whole situation.
He will have wanted to use this tour as a marker for his progress, but instead it looks like a near-second-string England will get walloped in the first Test.
This has been a problem dating back many years and quite frankly it’s about time it was sorted.
The issue is that none of the players taking part in the Premiership final will be available to Lancaster for the first game, which is only a week later.
That will leave the England boss without some players no matter what, and possibly without a series of central figures if the wrong teams make that final.
Scheduling is one of the biggest problems facing modern rugby. I’ve been saying all season how the breaks in the fixture list should be shored up and dealt with, and this international issue comes under the same banner.
It’s time for representatives from unions around the world to get round a table and sort it out.
Rob Cook and Elliott Stooke are deserving award winners
ROB Cook and Elliott Stooke as Gloucester’s player and young player of the season feels about right to me.
After such a poor year it always seems a bit strange to be talking about players of the season, but those two guys have shown up in most of the games they have been part of.
When Cook arrived at Kingsholm it was as a kicker with a funny technique, but he has since shown that he is much more than that.
As an attacking presence from full-back he rarely misses an opportunity to break the line and really stood up and took his chance following Olly Morgan’s retirement.
Now he is as much a part of the back three threat as the likes of Jonny May, Charlie Sharples, James Simpson-Daniel and the others.
Stooke, meanwhile, is one of few Gloucester forwards who have been able to raise their star in a difficult season.
Much like Tom Savage the season before, he stood out as a physical, athletic presence in the Gloucester pack and let’s hope his progress continues.
Savage’s has stalled, mainly due to injury this season, but I also think it was a mistake to make him captain at such a young age.
It heaped a lot of pressure on his shoulders, and his performances seemed to suffer as a result.
Savage and Stooke should be up there competing for player of the season next year. Let’s hope they become names synonymous with a powerful Gloucester forward effort.