WORLD Cup winner Ben Cohen reckons the atmosphere at Kingsholm for the 2015 World Cup will be “phenomenal”.
The ex-Northampton wing helped England to the title in 2003 in Australia and said it was one of the best experiences of his life.
And for this crop of England talent, the chance to win the world cup will present itself on home turf, with the final at Twickenham on October 31.
Kingsholm will host four group matches from pool B and C.
Tonga play Georgia on September 19 (12pm), Scotland play Asia 1, most likely to be Japan, on Spetember 23 (2.30pm), Argentina play Georgia on September 25 and finally USA will play Asia 1 on October 11.
Although the Kingsholm faithful will not see the likes of Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Morgan or Jonny May playing for England at Castle Grim, Cohen believes the world cup is such a special event, it does not matter who is playing.
The former Sale Sharks man said: “Having the world cup in any country is a very special time.
“Having it in the heart of Gloucester will be very special, no matter what. In Australia, those going to the games were given t-shirts of support, and one half of the stadium supported one side and the other half supported their opponents.
“The atmosphere will be phenomenal. They will be great games, well-matched sides and really good entertainment.
“The players will enjoy it too - especially if they are not used to this sort of support. It will be fantastic for them, people will get excited and it will gather momentum.
“The whole country will get behind the world cup, and that will put pressure on England. It will be interesting to see how they cope.”
Cohen has vivid memories of how intense and hostile Kingsholm was for a Northampton player, and more often than not left Gloucester after another defeat to the Cherry and Whites.
He added: “I used to hate it! It was very hard.
“It is a very good place to play rugby though - but it is intimidating. But the whole crowd will get behind which ever team is playing in the world cup.”
If Twelvetrees, May and Morgan want to book their spot in the world cup squad, they will have to fight for their places.
Cohen is impressed with the impact they have made so far but said their future in an England shirt is yet to be decided.
He continued: “Stuart Lancaster (England coach) is still trying to settle his team and find some consistency in selection.
“It is all down to them and how they play if they want to become England regulars.
“Jonny is still finding his feet, but the Gloucester boys did well. They have work-ons and they need their roles in the team to become second-nature.
“But they should want competition for their places and they will perform better because of it.
“England need to learn how to win under pressure and not go into those games feeling they could be 50/50.
“It is a battle of the mind and it will be interesting to see how the pressure of a home world cup will affect England, or whether it will stifle them.
“This coming season will be huge for England. They need to win. In 2003, we won all our games, the Six Nations, the tours, and we went into the World Cup as the best team in the world.
“They need that confidence and ability. That will be key in their preparation.”
Thanks to global French-language TV channel TV5MONDE, one lucky rugby fan will win two VIP tickets to the Top 14 Rugby final on May 31st, return UK travel and two nights’ accommodation in central Paris.
What's more, they will watch the game with England World Cup winner Ben Cohen. To enter, simply go to www.tv5monde.co.uk. The closing date is midnight, May 19th; terms and conditions apply, see online.