Dallaglio: Why Wasps DNA can help Cipriani and co fulfil Gloucester's potential
Lawrence Dallaglio is backing the new Gloucester new coaching set-up to deliver Gallagher Premiership and European success thanks to the Wasps DNA they share with Danny Cipriani, the club’s mercurial out-half. Following the abrupt departure of head coach Johan Ackermann and director of rugby David Humphreys, Gloucester brought in ex-Wasps lock George Skivington to take over Ackermann’s role.
After that, former England and Wasps out-half Alex King was added as attack coach and ex-Wasps centre Dominic Waldouck, one of Cipriani’s closest friends, came in as defence coach. Together with Dallaglio and Cipriani, Gloucester’s new coaching trio enjoyed Heineken Cup and Premiership titles at Wasps.
Skivington’s first match in charge of Gloucester was a Cipriani-inspired 44-15 win over 14-man Worcester, but they have since lost 33-24 to Bristol and 36-20 at Saracens, leaving them in eighth place, 13 points adrift of the league play-offs which they reached last season.
It has raised questions about Gloucester’s ability to be a consistent force in the Premiership and they now cannot afford to slip up against struggling Leicester at Kingsholm on Sunday.
Besides tapping into the winning mentality created during Wasps’ most successful period, Dallaglio believes it will be key for Gloucester to develop other attacking threats to take the pressure off Cipriani while also creating a “ruthless, hard edge streak up front”.
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Speaking to RugbyPass, the 2003 World Cup-winning England No8 said: “The Gloucester coaches are young, hungry, ambitious. They won lots of things in the Premiership and Europe at Wasps and understand what it takes at that level. They have that winning culture that made Wasps such a dominant force for three or four years. They have got that in their DNA because they were part of that journey.
“When you look at the make-up of the Gloucester squad and the talent they have led by Danny, you have to ask the question – have they fulfilled their potential? The answer is no they probably haven’t.
“Even under the previous coaching regime they were getting better but when it came down to it, the brutal fact is that there is still a big gap between Exeter and Saracens and everyone else. Gloucester were leading the charge last season (finishing third) but were comfortably beaten in the play-off (44-19) by Sarries.
“However, if you look at the quality of the squad at Gloucester’s disposal with Danny pulling the strings, what they haven’t aligned that with is a ruthless, hard edge streak up front which Gloucester teams of old were built on. The challenge for the coaches and Danny is how you develop a game plan that will take on the top teams.”
Dallaglio wants to see Gloucester prove they can find the right balance to give them the ability to “win ugly” when required, which means developing threats up front. “The best teams I played with were always coach-led and player-driven and while you’re not always going to agree on things, it’s about creating a happy environment and winning,” he added.
“It’s nice to play good rugby and score lots of tries but it doesn’t really work out if you come up short in the play-offs. Those coaches bring a winning mentality and Danny has been part of that. Teams have played exciting rugby everywhere he has been.
“With front-foot ball, Danny is one of the best players in the world. Take that away from him and Gloucester will need to build a game plan around someone like Jake Polledri in the back row. They will need to construct a game to be able to win in whatever way they need.
“The issues at Gloucester haven’t been around Danny. Wasps were setting things on fire when he was there, and he did well at Sale. It’s about other players stepping up and have a real say in what happens collectively.”
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