Gloucester Rugby

Gloucester Rugby

Full name Gloucester Rugby
Union Rugby Football Union
Founded 1873 (1873)
Region Gloucester, England
Ground(s) Kingsholm Stadium (Capacity: 16,500)
Chairman Ryan Walkinshaw
Director of Rugby David Humphreys
Coach(es) Laurie Fisher
Captain(s) Billy Twelvetrees
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2014–15 9th
Official website

Gloucester Rugby is a professional English rugby union club situated in the West Country city of Gloucester, and formed in 1873. It now plays in the domestic Premiership, the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the European Professional Club Rugby competitions.

The home stadium in the district of Kingsholm, just outside Gloucester City Centre. The club has no official nickname but are occasionally referred to as the 'Cherry and Whites' by supporters and the media in reference to the traditional hooped shirts worn by the team. Matches with local rivals Bath, Worcester Warriors and Bristol are referred to as West Country derbies.


  • Honours 1
    • Premier League Positions 1.1
  • History 2
    • 1873–1971 2.1
    • 1972–1997 2.2
    • 1997–2007 2.3
    • 2008–present 2.4
  • Financial position 3
  • Stadium 4
  • Colours 5
  • Nickname 6
  • Current coaches 7
  • Current squad 8
    • Academy squad 8.1
    • Current England Elite Squad 8.2
    • Current England Saxons Squad 8.3
  • Notable former players 9
  • Sources 10
  • External links 11


Premier League Positions

Season League Final
1997–1998 Premiership 6th 23
1998–1999 Premiership 10th 19
1999–2000 Premiership 3rd 30
2000–2001 Premiership 7th 48
2001–2002 Premiership 3rd 67
2002–2003 Premiership 1st 82
2003–2004 Premiership 4th 63
2004–2005 Premiership 6th 47
2005–2006 Premiership 5th 59
2006–2007 Premiership 1st 71
2007–2008 Premiership 1st 74
2008–2009 Premiership 6th 57
2009–2010 Premiership 7th 48
2010–2011 Premiership 3rd 67
2011–2012 Premiership 9th 44
2012–2013 Premiership 5th 60
2013–2014 Premiership 9th 44
2014–2015 Premiership 9th 48



The club was formed in 1873 after a meeting at the Spread Eagle Hotel with the announcement in the Gloucester Journal: "A football club (as rugby was then called) has been formed in this city – the season's operations begin at the Spa on the first Tuesday in next month." a team was then organised to play the College school which was actually played on the ground of the current Kingsholm.

There were 11 games played during the club's 1876–77 season, the club winning 6, losing 2 and drawing 3. Gloucester Rugby Football Club had a successful run in the coming seasons, playing 15 games in both the 1877–78 and 1878–79 seasons, winning 10, losing 2 and drawing 3 both times. In the 1879–80 season Gloucester RFC played 17 games and lost just two. The following season was less successful, winning six of their 13 fixtures. In the 1882–83 season the team won 11 of their 14 games. The club was playing more fixtures as the decade continued, contesting 20 games in the 1884–85 season, and up to 34 in the 1891–92 season. The club left the Spa after an argument with the cricket club that they were ground sharing with. During the winter the Rugby Club had used a salt mixture to remove frost from the pitch, resulting in the death of the grass on the wicket. Gloucester RFC were no longer welcome at the Spa ground.They then acquired lands from the Castle Grim Estate for £4,000 in 1891 and have resided in this place, known since as Kingsholm.

Gloucester RFC were suspended by the RFU for professionalism as a result of the club recruiting players: the "Shewell Case". The club responded by adopting a more puritanical adherence to the amateur regulations, and were reinstated. However, when the Northern clubs split from the RFU to form the Northern Rugby Union (later known as the Rugby Football League) a number of Gloucester RFC players "went North".

The 1920–21 season became famous for Gloucester RFC when Fredd Webb skippered the club to 23 matches unbeaten at home at Kingsholm, with only the United Services and Pontypool clubs being able to defeat them at home. Gloucester RFC defeated Newport 12 to 9 in front of 8,000 spectators. The following season was infamous for the number of footballers that were sent from the field by officials, 14 for fighting, seven for arguing, six for language and one for foul play. Leicester actually cancelled their Gloucester RFC fixture because of this. Around the mid 1920s the media began to refer to the club as the 'Red and Whites'.


In 1972 Gloucester RFC won the first ever National Knock-Out Competition. Having overcome Bath, Bristol, London Welsh and Coventry (all away from home) in earlier rounds, they beat Moseley in a Twickenham final that was marred by violence and the sending off of Moseley's Nigel Horton. In 1978 Gloucester RFC won the first ever John Player Cup, defeating Leicester Tigers in another final noted for violent play both on and off the pitch at Twickenham Stadium.

Despite the two cup wins of the 1970s and a shared trophy in 1982, Gloucester RFC were soon to find themselves in the shadow of Bath, the rising force from down the A46.

Bath finished runners-up in the league in 1989, but the disastrous end to the 1989/90 campaign was to be a prelude to lean years. Closing in on English rugby's first 'Double', Gloucester RFC's last-day collapse handed Wasps the league title before a 48–6 cup final heartbreak at the hands of Bath.

By 1992/93 however it was a different story. The players called a crisis meeting with club coach Keith Richardson about the perceived lack of player rewards relative to other comparable clubs. A year later, club chairman Peter Ford restated the club's traditional anti-professionalism: "We play by the rules. .. whatever anybody else does, we'll stick by the rules. If they say we can't pay players, or offer them inducements or cars or flats. .. then we won't do it."

Richard Hill, former tormentor from fierce rivals Bath and Bristol, was instilled as Head Coach

Professionalism finally came in 1995, but Gloucester RFC was without a major investor, and lost ground in terms of player recruitment and revenue acquisition. But this did not prevent the club from transforming itself into a limited company.


Tom Walkinshaw became the new club owner with a majority shareholding on 29 April 1997. After two full seasons at the helm, Richard Hill was replaced as Director of Rugby by former France captain Philippe Saint-André.

In 1999/2000, Saint-Andre's first full season, a third-place finish took Gloucester into the Heineken Cup. With Phil Vickery, Trevor Woodman, Kingsley Jones and All Blacks legend Ian Jones forming the basis of a formidable pack, Gloucester Rugby marched their way to the last four. This being before the playoffs were introduced to decide the Champion team, therefore no Premiership final as we know it today was played. Phillippe Saint-Andre left the club on a positive note, being chaired off the pitch by Gloucester supporters following his last game in charge against London Irish. Saint-Andre had put the blueprint in place to enable Gloucester to win their first cup in 25 years in 2003, under new coach Nigel Melville.

Unstoppable in the league, Gloucester RFC reached the inaugural Premiership final 15 points clear of their nearest rival, however under the new Premiership playoff system, Gloucester Rugby were required to play a single knock-oout match to determine the Premiership champions. Despite a significant rest period of 3 weeks, Gloucester lost the final London Wasps and have thus never been crowned English domestic champions. Nigel Melville left the club and was replaced by Dean Ryan for the 2005–06 season.

At the start of the 2005 season, the club chairman Tom Walkinshaw began several changes to modernise the club in order to keep up with rugby's rapidly advancing professionalism, whilst the majority of fans supported the need to modernise, some fans were concerned that the club was losing touch with its heritage and traditions. 'Gloucester Rugby Football Club' has been renamed 'Gloucester Rugby' and, due to copyright issues, no longer use Gloucester City's Coat of Arms as the club's crest (as the crest didn't belong to the club, and with no copyright, unofficial merchandise was freely available).

The 2005–06 season saw an improvement in the club's fortunes, although they did not qualify for the playoffs, they were strong contenders and lost out on the last day of the regular season. They also won silverware in the European Challenge Cup, defeating London Irish in a tense final that went into extra time. This season was also the last we saw of many Academy graduates such as James Forrester, who was forced to retire through injury the following season.

Gloucester Rugby finished 1st in the 2006/2007 Guinness Premiership table. Both Leicester and Gloucester Rugby tied with 71 points, but Gloucester Rugby gained first place with more games won. Gloucester Rugby defeated Saracens in the semi-final at Kingsholm, 50–9, to move into the Twickenham final where they faced Leicester Tigers. However, Gloucester Rugby were beaten heavily by the Tigers with the final score being 44–16, Gloucester Rugby again being defeated by a better prepared team. Despite their strength in the League system, they failed to progess beyond the group stage of the Heineken Cup.


Martin St Quinton acquired 25% of the club for £3-4m in 2008, and became vice chairman, with a focus on increasing sponsorship and other non-playing related areas.[1][2]

Gloucester Rugby began the 2007/08 Guinness Premiership campaign as favourites, and started the season strongly winning their first five games before defeat away to London Irish. Dean Ryan's main focus for the 2007/08 season was for Gloucester to establish themselves in Europe, but despite coming top of their group they lost to Munster in the Quarter Final. After the Heineken Cup exit Gloucester overcame their poor mid-season form with a series of victories including defeating Bath in an intense encounter at Kingsholm to win the league for the second year running, and book a home semi-final in the Premiership payoff against Leicester Tigers. The result was the same, although a closer affair. The Tigers won 25–26 courtesy of an Andy Goode drop goal 3 minutes from time.

After failing to qualify for the play-off's in 2008/09 and defeat to Cardiff in the EDF Energy Cup Final at Twickenham, Gloucester announced on 11 June 2009 that Dean Ryan had left the club by mutual consent. He was replaced by assistant Bryan Redpath.[3]

Tragedy struck the club on 12 December 2010, when popular club owner Tom Walkinshaw died from cancer at the age of 64.[4] David McKnight was appointed non-executive chairman in April 2011, and will work alongside Tom's son Ryan at Kingsholm.

On 20 March 2011, Gloucester triumphed 34–7 over Newcastle Falcons to win the Anglo-Welsh LV Cup, thus ensuring qualification for the 2011–12 Heineken Cup.[5]

On 17 April 2012, Bryan Redpath announced his resignation due in his words to a disappointing season. He subsequently went on to manage Sale Sharks.[6] On 2 June 2012, Ken Nottage announced Nigel Davies as the new Director of Rugby for Gloucester, succeeding Bryan Redpath at Kingsholm.[7] On 8 June 2012, Gloucester managing director Ken Nottage announced to exit the club by July end, after a tenure of 13 years at the club.[8]

On 13 November 2012, Gloucester Rugby hosted an International match against Fiji as part of the 2012 Autumn Internationals. The match was held at Gloucester's home stadium of Kingsholm Stadium and Gloucester won 31–29.[9] On 12 November 2013, Gloucester hosted another International match against Japan, as part of the 2013 Autumn Internationals, which was also held at Kingsholm Stadium, where Gloucester won 40-5.[10][11]

On 12 May 2014, Gloucester Rugby Board of Directors announced they had parted company with Nigel Davies due to a disappointing and unsuccessful season.[12][13]

On 7 June 2014, Gloucester Rugby had appointed David Humphreys as their new Director of Rugby.[14] On 1 May 2015, Gloucester defeated Edinburgh Rugby 19-13 to win the European Rugby Challenge Cup of the 2014-15 season.[15]

Financial position

In the 2008-9 financial year Gloucester Rugby reported a pre tax loss of £0.7m, and the owners invested around £1m of new money.[16] Gloucester Rugby then became profitable, and in the 2012-13 financial year reported a pre tax profit of £0.3m on turnover of £11.6m.[17]

Gloucester Rugby is relatively fortunate in owning its own ground. Other key issues in long-term financial strength are sponsorship and size of crowds. In 2008 vice chairman Martin St Quinton said he believed the ground could be doubled from its 16,500 capacity, but that "To get big crowds in, to get sponsors in and to sell corporate hospitality packages if the team is not winning is extremely difficult."[18]


Gloucester Rugby play homes matches at Kingsholm Stadium. The club left the Spa Ground for Kingsholm when it bought an area of the Castle Grim Estate for £4,000 in 1891. In that year Gloucester Rugby Football Club opened the "Sixpenny" stand, which later became known as the Shed.

Kingsholm's capacity was further increased to 20,000 in 1926 when a grandstand was added to the stadium at a cost of £2,500, containing 1,750 seats. However six years later it was destroyed by fire. There were plans proposed to increase the seating capacity of the stadium to 7,000. However, it remained a proposal, although the grandstand was replaced, terracing in the Sixpenny, and at the Tummp end was preferred, and indeed, more affordable in the early 20th Century.

Like the clubs of the Welsh mining valleys, Gloucester Rugby traditionally drew its support and its playing strength from local working-class communities. The Shed, so-called because it looks like a cow shed, became known as such in the 1950s. Gloucester Rugby's fanzine, 'Shed Head' refers to it as 'the cauldron of fear'. The Shed is standing-only terracing that runs continuously down one touchline, opposite the point where visiting teams emerge from the dressing rooms. Its low tin roof amplifies the effect of a passionate support which has been mentioned by commentators sitting above it during live broadcasts. This, together with a historically good home record, contributes to the ground also being nicknamed 'Castle Grim'.

In October 2003, Gloucester Rugby launched 'Project Kingsholm'. 'The Kingsholm Supporters Mutual' (KSM) was set up by Gloucester Rugby Football Club in October 2003, to help fundraise towards 'Project Kingsholm', the redevelopment of Gloucester’s entire ground at a cost of £6,000,000, and the launch of a supporters shares rights issue. The idea was to be similar to the development at Franklins Gardens, home of Northamption Saints RFC, although on a bigger scale, incorporating both seating and terracing. Despite the KSM meeting the fundraising targets, Gloucester Rugby abandoned all plans.

In 2006, the club announced it would be making an extension to Kingsholm, bringing the stadium capacity up to 16,500. This was mainly to comply with Premier Rugby's minimum seat number requirements. The old main Grandstand (which was both terracing and seating) was later replaced by a new all seater structure, while terracing on the Worcester Street end of the ground was developed into an all seater stand, known as the 'Buildbase' stand at the time.

In January 2007, the club announced plans to redevelop The Shed terracing to all seater. This was intended to enable the entire stadium to become all-seating. A large number of supporters did not want to see this happen under the proposals put forward by Gloucester Rugby, and a poster campaign under the name of 'Save Our Shed' or 'SOS' was initiated by the KSM, and sponsored by the Gloucester Citizen newspaper. Posters were held up by supporters standing in the Shed, on camera during a televised Heineken Cup match against Leinster at Kingsholm. T-shirts were also made independently by supporters, with the slogan 'Save Our Shed' printed on them. The campaign did not protest the redevelopment of the Shed, rather the plans put forward at the time which were to replace all terracing with seats, leaving no alternative anywhere in the ground, despite such a large demand for terracing.

In September 2008, chairman Tom Wilkinshaw confirmed there were plans for the Shed to be redeveloped, but it would remain as a terrace (with an increased capacity of 6000), with hospitality units above it.[19] However, as of the 2010/11 season, the need and desire for redeveloping the Shed decreased with the above-mentioned plans proving to be conjecture, and as such abandoned, have never come into effect and do not appear to for the foreseeable future.

2007 also saw the club reject the proposal of a new 20,000 all seater stadium in an area of the city nicknamed 'The Railway Triangle'. This was intended to be shared with the local football side. Kingsholm was also suggested in October 2007 as a possible temporary home for Gloucester City A.F.C. after their stadium Meadow Park was flooded and then abandoned following the summer floods. This move was, however, rejected by Gloucester Rugby Chairman, Tom Walkinshaw.


The famous cherry-and-white-hooped jersey did not originally belong to the club. Painswick RFC, based in Gloucestershire and the oldest village club, are the original 'Cherry and Whites'. According to local legend at the club's first meeting it was decided that the club's uniform was to be entirely navy blue, yet on an away trip they realised they had forgotten to bring sufficient Navy strip for the entire team, leaving behind a kit bag full of shirts, Travelling en route through Painswick, they stopped off at the local rugby club and asked to borrow a strip. Painswick RFC loaned them 15 of their cherry-and-white jerseys, the Gloucester side went on to win the away fixture and failed to return the shirts to Painswick, adopting the colours as their own. In 2003, to celebrate Gloucester RFC's 130th anniversary, Gloucester RFC returned the favour and donated Painswick RFC an entire new set of first team colours.

For the start of the 2001/02 season the club introduced new shirts which no longer featured the cherry-and-white hoops, instead featuring a largely red shirt with small white sleeves. They returned to hoops in the 2003/04 season, with thin white hoops. As of the 2005/06 season, the club moved away from traditional hoops again. The New Jersey was predominantly red, with white panelling on the side in a 'ladder' effect. This was dubbed the 'Spiderman' or 'Arsenal' kit by supporters. The new kit also abandoned the traditional navy blue shorts and socks, with the new design becoming all red. On the release of the 05/06 shirt there was a degree of disappointment in Gloucester Rugby's decision to move away from the hooped jersey again (a design generally associated with traditional rugby shirts), as this was a dramatic move away from the classic Gloucester Rugby design. After the new 05/06 shirt was released, 'Hudsons & Co' of Gloucester city centre, released a classic, plain cherry-and-white-hooped Gloucester Rugby jersey, manufactured by Cotton Traders (who supplied Gloucester Rugby jerseys prior to the 2007–08 season, when the manufacture of kit was taken over by RugbyTech), albeit an unofficial jersey which is not associated with the club, the shirt proved popular with fans unhappy with the official shirt. On the back of this success, many of the Public Houses in the Kingsholm area also began selling shirts with the classic hoops. Although these shirts do not display the name 'Gloucester Rugby', due to copyright, the Hudson variety were labelled 'Gloucester Rugby Football Club' while the pub versions used the title 'Cherry and Whites'. Both designs used the traditional cherry-and-white hoops, with the title under the Gloucester city coat of arms. As such many of the fans who disapproved of the new original design were able to purchase this classic design instead.

A number of fans commented on the irony that whilst the new crest and shirt design were originally designed in order to prevent unofficial merchandise, they have in fact increased the number of fans turning to unofficial shirts. Gloucester Rugby released its own, official, supporters shirt displaying the classic hooped design with the new club crest above the date of the club's inception '1873'. For the start of the 2009/10 season, the club returned the first team jersey design to the cherry-and-white hoops.

Between the 2007-8 and the 2010-11 season RugbyTech their kits but since the 2011-12 season, KooGa have supplied their kits.


Throughout Gloucester Rugby's history the club has never had an official nickname, the first unofficial nicknames for the club were 'the elver eaters' and 'the city', although that name is a distant memory mused over by the club's oldest and longest supporters, the classic 'cherry and whites' nickname, which has become synonymous with the club, was created by the media in reference to the club's colours. The media first referenced the club colours around the 1950s as the 'red and whites' and continued to use this nickname well into the 1960s before changing to the 'cherry and whites'. However, Painswick RFC, from whom Gloucester 'borrowed' their colours, claim to be the originators of the nickname 'the cherry and whites' and proudly present themselves as "The original Cherry & Whites".

Current coaches


Current squad


Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Player Position Union
Darren Dawidiuk Hooker England
Richard Hibbard Hooker Wales
Tom Lindsay Hooker England
John Afoa Prop New Zealand
Paul Doran-Jones Prop England
Paddy McAllister Prop Ireland
Dan Murphy Prop England
Nicky Thomas Prop Wales
Yann Thomas Prop England
Nick Wood Prop England
Mariano Galarza Lock Argentina
Tom Hicks Lock England
James Hudson Lock England
Tom Savage Lock England
Elliott Stooke Lock England
Jeremy Thrush Lock New Zealand
Sione Kalamafoni Flanker Tonga
Matt Kvesic Flanker England
Ross Moriarty Flanker Wales
Jacob Rowan Flanker England
Gareth Evans Number 8 England
Ben Morgan Number 8 England
Player Position Union
Callum Braley Scrum-half England
Willi Heinz Scrum-half New Zealand
Greig Laidlaw Scrum-half Scotland
Billy Burns Fly-half England
James Hook Fly-half Wales
Matt Protheroe Fly-half England
Mark Atkinson Centre England
Bill Meakes Centre Australia
Henry Trinder Centre England
Billy Twelvetrees Centre England
David Halaifonua Wing Tonga
Jonny May Wing England
Henry Purdy Wing England
Steph Reynolds Wing Wales
Charlie Sharples Wing England
Rob Cook Fullback England
Tom Marshall Fullback New Zealand
Steve McColl Fullback Scotland

Academy squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Player Position Union
Luke Cole Hooker England
James Gibbons Prop England
Josh McNulty Prop England
Alex Craig Lock England
Harry Wilson Lock England
Joe Batley Flanker England
Lewis Ludlow Flanker England
Joe Mullis Flanker England
Dan Thomas Flanker Wales
Will Safe Number 8 England
Player Position Union
Harry Randall Scrum-half England
Ben Vellacott Scrum-half Scotland
Lloyd Evans Fly-half England
Elliott Creed Centre England
Ollie Thorley Centre England
Jack Evans Fullback England

Current England Elite Squad

Current England Saxons Squad

Notable former players

Below is a non-exhaustive list of former players for the club who have been either club record holders or have been full internationals during their time at the club.[21]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Redpath replaces Ryan BBC Sport – 11 June 2009
  4. ^ "Gloucester mourn owner Tom Walkinshaw". BBC Sport. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Gloucester 34–7 Newcastle". BBC Sport. 20 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Bryan Redpath resigns as Gloucester head coach". BBC Sport. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Davies swaps Scarlets for Gloucester in rugby director role". Daily Mail. 2 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Ken Nottage". Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Gloucester defeat Fiji 31-29". Gloucester Rugby. 13 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Gloucester defeat Japan 40-5". Gloucester Rugby. 12 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Gloucester vs Japan". Gloucester Rugby. 12 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Nigel Davies parts company with Gloucester Rugby". Gloucester Rugby. 12 May 2014. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Gloucester Rugby appoint David Humphreys as new Director of Rugby". Gloucester Rugby. 7 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Gloucester wins the European Rugby Challenge Cup". Gloucester Rugby. 1 May 2015. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Walkinshaw's plan for the shed BBC Sport – 9 Sep 2008
  20. ^ Source
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links

  • Official site
  • Gloucester at
  • Live streaming commentary on all games and lots more from BBC Gloucestershire
  • Gloucester Rugby Heritage
  • Visitor information on Gloucester for travelling fans – details of where to stay and eating out in Gloucester
  • The Kingsholm Supporters Mutual – an independent supporters organisation