In sport, as in business, politics and life generally, it helps to know what you want and make a plan to get it. After a fourth home defeat of the season the club’s mentality is in question and begs the question: what is the Gloucester Rugby vision?
The current coaching team led by Director of Rugby David Humphreys and Head Coach Laurie Fisher are into their third season of their mission to guide the club back towards the top of the league. But the specifics of the strategy appear to be lacking, particularly to supporters. Calls are growing for coaching changes at Kingsholm from some and the sacking of Richard Cockerill by Leicester has helped this cause. Gloucester now reside in their familiar position of ninth with only three league wins this season.
This suggests that Gloucester will again not qualify for the Champions’ Cup. Playing in the elite European competition is surely the first step towards future success. Fans are not out of place to ask when this will be achieved. Following this, the next natural step would be finishing in the play-offs. Again, it would help manage expectations to suggest a timeframe for desired results. Under Dean Ryan Worcester Warriors put in place a five year plan and fans were clear on what they should expect each season. This shared vision was progressing well and the Warriors may be challenging higher in the league had Ryan not unexpectedly left at the start of the season.
Most Cherry and White fans acknowledge that the club required some re-organisation after Nigel Davies’ departure. They would also realize that there are some issues that are harder to fix than others. When supporters see things not going the right way for their team they try to understand why. Without a long-term goal to measure weekly progress by calls for sacking are unsurprising.
The sheer inconsistency of Gloucester’s results point towards a group pulling in different directions. This season has seen a bonus point win against league leaders Wasps contrasted with a home defeat to Newcastle Falcons; the latter was their first Premiership away win in two years. Virtually every business has a mission statement declaring their purpose of existence. However true these appear, they help guide day to day activity. It appears Gloucester are currently lacking a defined purpose and this translates into their match performances.
The 13-12 defeat to Northampton Saints on New Year’s Day is the latest close and agonising defeat that so frustrates the Kingsholm faithful. The crowd became very restless at the heavy kicking tactics employed by the Cherry and Whites. Humphreys explained post-match that the poor weather conditions required such tactics and he is right that field position was key. However once in Saints’ 22 Gloucester demonstrated their recurring inability to break the defensive line and convert pressure into points. There is a clear management belief in tactical kicking but it is repeatedly not delivering results. And it shouldn’t even have to be said that kicking does not equate to points.
Laurie Fisher tweet https://twitter.com/LordLaurie58/status/815682730658844673
After two big disappointments Gloucester have to pick themselves up and face local rivals Worcester this weekend. A strong, shared Gloucester Rugby vision would help everyone involved to move forward in the same direction. Then everyone can enjoy the success if and when it is achieved.