Director of Rugby: David Humpries
Captain: Billy Twelvetrees
2013/14 League Position: 9th
2014/15 League Prediction: 8th
Notable New Men:
Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh): Initially signed as a 10 for Gloucester, however with the arrival of James Hook and departure of Jimmy Cowan it now looks like Laidlaw will be filling the 9 shirt, providing a mentoring role for the young but exciting duo of Dan Robson and Callum Braley. He was signed to provide Gloucester with a reliable goal kicker, Billy Twelvetrees took on the responsibility last season once it was clear Freddie Burns was not mentally right to play and the team suffered as a result. Laidlaw will boss the pack around Kingsholm and kick the goals, a good bit of recruitment by the cherry and whites. He is likely to be missed during international periods but the acquisition of Callum Braley from Bristol means they are more than covered in that position.
James Hook (Perpignan): The relegation of Perpignan has proven to be a blessing in disguise for Gloucester, James Hook became available for transfer and Gloucester snapped him up. It was by no means Hooks fault the Catalan side were relegated, far from it, his form in the south of France still had Welshmen screaming for his inclusion in Warren Gatlands starting XV. His versatility is his biggest attribute for Gatland and as a result Hook sits on the bench a lot for Wales, he will be given the 10 shirt at Gloucester however and it is no secret he holds the expectations of the Shed faithful on his shoulders. It was a late signing but one well needed by the club after a dreadful 2013/14 campaign, Hook will hope to provide the spark to take the club back to the top table of English rugby.
Richard Hibbard (Ospreys): Difficult circumstances have ensured another Welshmen has joined Gloucester, following the turmoil of Welsh rugby Hibbard has decided to exit the country and continue his rugby in the Aviva Premiership. A key signing for Gloucester who struggled immensely at scum time last season, the acquisition of Hibbard along with Kiwi John Afoa means the Gloucester scrum will be feared not laughed at this season. A winning British and Irish Lion in 2013 and crucially starting the all important final test, Gloucester have gained a world class player in Hibbard and should expect big things.
Out the door:
Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers): The 2013/14 season was a bad one for Freddie Burns although injury to Baths George Ford meant he had the opportunity to reinstate himself in Stuart Lancasters plans in New Zealand and Burns took it with both hands, which proved a shock to most Gloucester fans. The season just gone might not of ever happened for Burns, when it was clear he was leaving the club his game fell to pieces and he sat on the bench for most games. He had gone from one of Englands brightest lights to virtually out the picture with Stephen Myler, George Ford and Danny Cipriani all seemingly overtaking him. Despite and impressive England tour I think most fans at Kingsholm would feel safer saying thanks to Freddie and welcoming James Hook into the side.
Jimmy Cowan (Tasman Makos, NZ): The 32 year old departs Gloucester after two years of service, things did not quite work out for the World Cup winner in his time at Gloucester, last season he seemed to slip behind academy product Dan Robson in the pecking order. He Joins Tasman on a one year deal to play in the ITM Cup in New Zealand, after that his future is unclear, it is likely Cowan will join a Japanese side or just simply see out his days at home in New Zealand. The recruitment of Laidlaw and Braley will ensure Gloucester will not be lacking in quality scrum-halves.
Mike Tindall (Retired): It was no secret Tindall was coming to the end of his playing career with his last term at Kingsholm he was operating a Player/Coach role. Many fans however would’ve expected Tindall to transition himself into coaching full time and perhaps under Nigel Davis this would’ve been the case, but with David Humphries, Laurie Fisher and Nick Walshe taking charge Tindall has been shown the door. This turn of events has even lead to board members leaving the club in recent weeks. However peculiar the exit of Tindall is from Gloucester it is with no doubt that he has been a great servant to the club racking up nearly 200 appearances, he will be sorely missed at Kingsholm.
Young Gun: Elliott Stooke, 20 (Second Row) – Stooke had a stellar 2013/14 season at Kingsholm where he was named as young player of the season by the season ticket holders, he will be sure to try and push on in 2014/15. He made 30 appearances last season, ten times as many as the previous year totalling him up to 33 appearances for the club at just the age of 20. At 6’6 and 114Kgs Stooke has already made a name for himself as a bruising enforcer in what was a weak Gloucester pack last season and has won a Junior World Cup with England under 20’s in 2013. He has also been acknowledged by England at senior level, playing for the Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds last January. Stooke will be joined by ex-England second-row Tom Palmer at Kingsholm this season and he will be sure to pick his brains and push his case forward for World Cup selection in 2015.
Closing Comment: This is very much a transitional stage for Gloucester rugby, with a new coaching team lead by ex-Ireland and Ulster legend David Humpries as Director of Rugby and experienced Aussie Laurie Fisher as head coach. Gloucester have also had a clear out in their playing roster and recruited heavily, 14 new faces at Kingsholm makes them the 2nd busiest club signing players only behind premiership new boys London Welsh. Like London Welsh Gloucester’s new formula of players and coaches may take time to gel however I do expect a slight improvement on their performance last season and can see them finishing 8th, however this does very much depend on the performances of Sale and Wasps and they could certainly finish higher.
John Afoa (Ulster)
Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
Mariano Galarza (Worcester Warriors)
Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby)
Aled Thomas (Scarlets)
Mark Atkinson (Bedford Blues)
Tom Isaacs (Ospreys)
Steve McColl (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Tom Palmer (Wasps)
Jacob Rowan (Yorkshire Carnegie)
James Hook (Perpignan)
Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby)
Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers)
Aleki Lutui (Edinburgh Rugby)
Will James (Retired)
Matt Cox (Worcester Warriors)
Ryan Mills (Worcester Warriors)
Andy Hazell (Retired)
Tavis Knoyle (Cardiff Blues)
Tim Taylor (Retired)
Dan George (Worcester Warriors)
Tom Heard (Plymouth Albion)
Thomas Young (Wasps)
Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers)
Huia Edmonds (RC Narbonne)
Jonny Bentley (Jersey)
Rupert Harden (Benetton Treviso)
Koree Britton (London Welsh)
Drew Cheshire (Moseley)
Jimmy Cowan (Tasman Makos)
Mike Tindall (Retired)
Andrew Bulumakau (Doncaster Knights)
Lua Lokotui (Beziers)
Martyn Thomas (Released, on trial at London Irish)