In their 150th season, everything should be looking rosy for Gloucester as the Cherry and Whites have spent the last couple of years dodging the financial woes that have caused other Premiership clubs to cease trading.
But they aren’t exactly thriving on the pitch. Having never won a top flight professional domestic trophy or claimed the Champions Cup, Gloucester haven’t won anything since the 2014-15 Challenge Cup – Europe’s second-tier competition – and other clubs across the continent are starting to overtake them in stature.
The club seem to be forever in a rebuild, whether that’s on the pitch, in the coaching box or around the boardroom table. This off-season is no different.
Gloucester finding winning mentality
Three years of George Skivington has seen the former London Irish coach take on more responsibilities, while Alex Brown has been confirmed as Lance Bradley’s successor as chief executive. Bradley’s reason for departure remains a well-kept secret.
But Gloucester have no top-flight European rugby this season, with a disappointing 10th place finish in the Premiership last term not enough to qualify.
“The Champions Cup is what everyone wants to play in, it is the pinnacle, the piece you look at the start of the season and go ‘oh we have Munster or Toulouse’, the big clubs that roll off the tongue.
“And in our history you’d say Gloucester was a big club and we need to get back to that status where Gloucester are recognised as a force in Europe. That goes back to us winning.
“If we get that winning mentality and deliver then that’s where that will lead us. Gloucester isn’t a small club, I think it is a sleeping giant.”
Owner staying put
The club this summer have recruited bulldozing back-row Zach Mercer from Montpellier in addition to Wales centre Max Llewellyn, among others. But there remain worries surrounding the future of the club.
Owner and chairman Martin St Quinton completed a majority takeover of the club in 2016 – alongside his role as chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, home of the Gold Cup – but the club remains one unable to make a consistent profit.
And the game itself does not currently feel like one where participation benefits bankrolling owners.
“[Martin’s commitment is] never wavering, Brown added. “He loves the game, he loves the club, he lives locally.
“I speak to him regularly and we have a really lovely relationship and long may that stand. I know his family, his children, are very much part of the journey as well.
“He has very much got an association here, as well as Cheltenham Racecourse, so I can’t see him leaving any time soon.”
Gloucester are a fascinating club with fans to rival any European team, but with performances many actively try to forget.
So in their 150th anniversary, with a new chief executive at the helm, time will tell as to whether this is yet another false dawn in the West Country.