Gloucester Rugby: European Challenge Cup final offers Cherry and Whites chance to bring colour to drab season

 
Bob Baker
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Gloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers - Aviva Premiership
Scotland and Lions scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is among Gloucester's star players (Source: Getty)

Gloucester have endured season after season of disappointment and this term has been little different as the club finished ninth best in the Premiership after a 20-34 home defeat to Exeter Chiefs.

They do, however, find themselves in the European Challenge Cup final on Friday night against Stade Francais.

It’s a challenge to pinpoint what has actually happened down in “Glozzer”, but things certainly haven’t been as rosé as the jersey of their Parisian opponents.

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The Cherry and Whites have always had an able squad which, in most seasons, has boasted multiple internationals.

John Afoa, Jim Hamilton, Greig Laidlaw, Freddie Burns, Akapusi Qera, Dan Robson and Jonny May all come to mind as recent or current players with pizzazz.

Yet nothing has been achieved. Not yet. However, after beating La Rochelle 16-14 in a truly remarkable semi-final last month, their Challenge Cup run could save the season and lift confidence ahead of the next campaign.

Altrad's failed bid

Off the field, things nearly got interesting until Premiership Rugby blocked a bid for 45 per cent of the club’s shares from Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad.

With Montpellier and Gloucester potential rivals in European competition, the official body found it easy to make the conflict of interest case.

RUGBYU-FRA-TOP14-MONTPELLIER-PAU
French businessman Mohed Altrad also owns Top 14 side Montpellier (Source: Getty)

Altrad, the French scaffolding magnate obviously saw some value in the club, perhaps not least in the inevitable demand for tubular steel that will come when the powers that be finally decide to rebuild The Shed.

He saw the value of a club positioned at the centre of the community, a position that could not only be leveraged for his own financial return but also for the benefit of the locality.

Regain some rosiness

Irrespective of that, the team’s management has the chance to create a positive memory that will endure longer than another grey season.

Following Laurie Fisher’s recent resignation, that relatively anonymous on-field management team has also lost some colour.

Gloucester Rugby v La Rochelle- European Rugby Challenge Cup
The colourful Laurie Fisher departed as head coach earlier this year (Source: Getty)

Although to their credit they have achieved a great deal in their respective national jerseys, David Humphreys and Trevor Woodman are unlikely to be supplementing their incomes on the after dinner speaking circuit.

The scarlet pigmentation may have seeped from the plumpest of cherries in recent times, but this Friday Gloucester can regain some rosiness and put this great historic club back on track once again.

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