George Skivington plotting Gloucester Rugby golden generation

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It has been a hectic season already for Gloucester, with thrilling highs and gutting lows. But while it may be a bumpy ride , Head Coach George Skivington and the club’s management have their eyes on producing a Gloucester Rugby golden generation to lead them to glory in the years to come.

Management aiming for consistent top four finish

At a fans forum last week, the club’s leadership team set out their ambitions to make Gloucester a consistent top four side. They did not put a specific timeframe on when they hope or expect this to happen, but it would be a significant change from their form of the last ten years.

Both the club and supporters have broadly acknowledged that the steady turnover of coaching teams and players has hindered their progress. During the forum, Chief  Alex Brown outlined the new policy for deciding on new recruits, emphasising the focus on retention of talent, and wanting players who will buy into a long-term vision.

This perhaps marks the end of marquee signings such as James Hook and Danny Cipriani, who were both brought in at a late stage, arguably because they were available rather than because they were an ideal fit for the team. Equally, the strategic recruitment of South Africans and English-qualified New Zealanders is over; only Ruan Ackermann and Corne Fourie remain from the Johan Ackermann-inspired recruitment round.

The Hartpury College production line

In the past ten years, graduates of Hartpury College and/or the Gloucester academy include Ellis Genge, Ross Moriarty, Harry Randall, Dan Robson, Sebastian Negri and Jake Polledri, amongst many other recognisable names. If Gloucester had been able to retain just some these players and bring them through to the first team,  the history books could have looked quite different.

Since Rugby’s restart the Cherry and Whites have brought through scrum-half Stephen Varney, to the extent that he has now been capped by Italy at just 19 years old. Other youngsters such as Jack Clement, Josh Gray and Alex Morgan earned game time at the end of last season, with Clement earning a call-up into an England training squad.

With Danny Cipriani leaving the club last week, 20 year old Gloucester-born George Barton is now competing with Lloyd Evans for the fly-half position. This is evidence of the trust in youth that there are no plans to bring in any short-term cover before the arrival of Adam Hastings in the summer.

Then of course there is Louis Rees-Zammit, and others like Alex Craig who broke through during 2019/20 under Johan Ackermann, and are now fixtures in the first team squad.  The appointment of Lewis Ludlow, another academy graduate, as club captain is further proof that the future of the club will be firmly focused about locally developed talent.

Will there be a Gloucester Rugby golden generation?

Gloucester have never had a problem developing talent, either through the academy or in collaboration with Hartpury College. But the route to the first team has been difficult for some, and there are many talented players now flourishing elsewhere in the Premiership and beyond.

If Skivington’s new recruitment and retention strategy works, we could be looking at a very exciting Gloucester Rugby golden generation. The ultimate aim is to replicate the long-term stability of Exeter Chiefs and Saracens; whether the on-field success will follow, we will have to wait and see.

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