Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ambush at the College Arms

Gloucester 13 – Saracens 13

This was a disappointing result but disappointing for all the right reasons. This was not a capitulation from a team lacking spirit but a gritty team performance that deserved more. The disappointment I felt at no-side was because the city could have won this fixture.

Of course this was a strange encounter. Gloucester are recruiting hard and I suggest that the make-up of next season’s fifteen will be much changed from yesterday’s mixture of has-beens, never-will-bes and future stars. Two nippers caught the eye. Luke Narroway, replacing Andrew Hazell early on, was a thorn in Saracens’ side all afternoon and blazed away for the home side’s cause relentlessly. He was my man of the match and certainly one for the future. Oliver Morgan – also The Observer’s Industrial Correspondent, I note today – looked an elegant young so-and-so with ball in hand and took his try well. He was obviously thrilled. I would chuck him the 15 shirt for Sunday’s Wildcard semi final against Newcastle. A bouquet, too, for Adam Eustace who put in a committed, mature display and impressed this supporter especially as I’ve been rather dismayed recently with his level of performance and lack of discipline.

On to next season and I look forward to Mercier returning. We have missed his long range punting and ability to provide a platform for many a victory with his place kicking. Tindall, Collazo and Richards are all clever signings; not one of them could be called a journeyman and my word, we’ve all despaired at a fair few of them in recent months. Bob Casey, the London Irish lock is the latest name linked to Gloucester. The fellow has enjoyed a superb season at Reading and would be just the sort of skilled operator we need. He is a big lump too. We need his type at Kingsholm.

It was good to sup a few pints after the match both in the Deans and then in the cosy, comforting surrounds of the Café Rene. En route to ‘the Caff’, A, D and I were ambushed by a distressed and rather disturbing ‘W’, an old school colleague who was shambling in a malevolent manner around the environs of the College Arms. We paused to listen patiently to a vaguely incoherent rant about the alleged rebranding of GRFC into the ‘Gloucester Reds’. ‘W’ maintained that this would cause confusion for the uninitiated who might confuse the rugby club with Gloucester-based branches of Liverpool FC or Manchester United FC supporters. It was a passionate argument but I have encountered more intelligent debate, it has to be said. We scurried on after the encounter with the occasional concerned backward glance.