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The London Irish verdict on how their ex-assistant Skivington is doing nearly a year after acrimonious exit to become Gloucester boss

By Liam Heagney

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London Irish have given their verdict on how former assistant George Skivington is faring eleven months into his new role as Gloucester head coach. It was June 26 last year when the ex-England A lock was unveiled as the successor to Johan Ackermann at Kingsholm, a decision that sparked friction between the two Gallagher Premiership clubs.  

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At the time the Exiles claimed they had not been asked by Gloucester if they could make an approach to Skivington, who was under contract at the London club. It led to a feisty exchange of words but this public animosity had disappeared by the time Irish visited Gloucester last September when the suspended 2019/20 league season was played to a conclusion. 

Skivington’s Gloucester finished out that term with three wins and five defeats in the eight games they got to play, but they endured a terrible winter in the new campaign and were bottom of the table and enduring an eight-game losing streak before their late February win over Worcester.

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That breakthrough ignited their season and they have won five of their last nine league matches, lifting them to eleventh on the table just three points behind Newcastle, seven shy of Bath and Wasps, and eight behind London Irish with three rounds of fixtures to play.   

That schedule opens with Skivington playing host to his former employers knowing that a win would vault his current club into the Heineken Champions Cup qualification race for next season as the top eight finishers in the Premiership will go through.   

With Irish on a four-game losing run, they could be running into the improving Skivington set-up at just the wrong juncture. “He has done brilliantly,” said Irish boss Kidney about his former assistant coach. “They weren’t getting results earlier on but they were picking up losing bonus points. They have kept their head very well – and he kept his head – and they just worked their way through. They have been very solid and have been getting stronger over the last couple of weeks, unfortunately.

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“It can (be difficult to become the boss), they are different type jobs. There are all the different jobs with all the different headings, whether it is director of rugby or head coach or forwards coach, whatever it is, there is a different skill set needed for each one depending on the way the club is structured but he [Skivington] has certainly done very well and they have gelled very nicely. They will play hard for 80 minutes against you so we have got to be on the money for it so all credit is due to him.”

 

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The London Irish verdict on how their ex-assistant Skivington is doing nearly a year after acrimonious exit to become Gloucester boss

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