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From Championship... to Gloucester academy

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Gloucester sign a Championship team captain... and stick him in their senior academy

Gloucester have confirmed an unusual signing on Wednesday – they have snapped up Simon Linsell, the Hartpury captain and player of the season, but have only included the consistent Championship second row as part of their senior academy for next season rather than as a fully-fledged member of Johan Ackermann’s first team squad.

Coming back to Kingsholm is something of a homecoming for Linsell, who played a big part in ensuring Hartpury maintained their Greene King IPA Championship status.

Earlier in his career, he was part of a Gloucester under-18s set-up that also included the likes of Lewis Ludlow and Ollie Thorley. Linsell also featured in Premiership Rugby A League action several times.

He moved away from the area to study Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at Exeter University and captained the university side before returning last season to join Hartpury  at the age of 23 where he made a real impact.

In agreeing his first professional contract, he will be part of a senior academy squad that in recent seasons has seen a number of players feature at first team level, both domestically and in Europe, and move up to the first team squad.

Moving up from the successful under-18s set-up are Harry Fry, Ethan Hunt, Jenson Boughton, Joe Howard, Jack Clement, Josh Gray, Stephen Varney, George Barton, Isaac Marsh and Louis Rees-Zammit.

Linsell admitted that he’s delighted to return to familiar territory. “It’s fantastic to be returning to where it all first started for me. I’ve really enjoyed my rugby at Exeter University and with Hartpury, but I’m massively looking forward to moving into a fully professional environment and seeing what I can achieve.

“I’d like to thank Hartpury in particular. Last season was incredibly challenging, but I learned a lot as a player and am obviously delighted that we managed to stay up. But now, I can’t wait for pre-season, to link up with my team-mates and to see what contribution I can make.”

WATCH: Part five of The Academy, the RugbyPass documentary on Leicester Tigers

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Gloucester sign a Championship team captain... and stick him in their senior academy