Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

How 'very smart' ex-GAA star introduced by O'Gara is aiding Gloucester

By Chris Jones
Gloucester players celebrate after winning the final of the Premiership Rugby Cup between Gloucester Rugby and Leicester Tigers at Kingsholm Stadium on March 15, 2024 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Gloucester director of rugby George Skivington believes the leadership training of Jonny Cooper, the former Gaelic football star, can help the club’s bid for a second trophy success this season as they prepare to face Benetton in the European Challenge Cup semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday.


Cooper, who won seven All-Ireland titles in his career and has now set up a leadership company, was introduced to Skivington by Ronan O’Gara, the La Rochelle head coach, when the West Country side travelled to the French coast in the European Champions Cup last season.

Skivington has shared the Gloucester captaincy within the squad this season with England No8 Zach Mercer taking the role against Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

Skivington said: “I met Jonny in La Rochelle last summer and Ronan knew him and he is a very smart guy. He has held some leadership workshops with us and there are so many different leaders – those who do it from the front and others who do it in the herd.

“Just finding out the balance is key and Jonny works on leadership skills and Jonny is highly decorated in Gaelic sport and has lot of experience. Jonny has been working with us this season and has been great for the guys.

Challenge Cup
40 - 23
All Stats and Data

“When we have spread the captaincy about the guys have done a really good job and there are lads who don’t get the chance to wear the armband who have really grown within the group. Zach did a good job although it was a tough game to do your first captaincy.”

Gloucester remained in ninth position in the Gallagher Premiership after losing 38- 17 at home to Exeter Sunday, with a performance that raised questions about the team’s ability to add another trophy to the Premiership Rugby Cup they won earlier in the season. However, Skivington is hoping the growing leadership group and internationals like Jonny May and Chris Harris can ensure the team stay on course for another trophy.


He added: “There is a good collective in the team who understand knockout rugby and Jonny has been to World Cup finals and it doesn’t get more knockout than that. You have to lean on their experience and we are a team when we are engaged and focus on ourselves, we are a lot better than last weekend when we took our eye off the ball a little bit.

“It was very disappointing against Exeter and I was very honest about how we would use those games and there was an opportunity for people to put their hands up (for selection). There are dangers and while I wasn’t expecting it to be pretty against Exeter I was expecting it to be better than it was.

“We talked about the trap of looking a week ahead and emotionally we weren’t in the right position to play a team like Exeter who are fighting in the Premiership (play offs).

“We have invested in the two cup campaigns after our poor run in the Premiership and reached the knockout stages and we have had a season of really good highs and really low lows.


“Everyone understands how we have had to dig ourselves out and then had some good moments – it has been a highly emotional year where we have been challenged all over the place. You go through all of that to compete for something and I don’t anticipate anyone in this building taking this lightly.

“Benetton are loaded with Italy internationals and have invested in building a good squad and it will be a really tough challenge for us. It is quite impressive to see their strength in depth in a lot of positions. They are dogged and very united as a team, their attack is really strong and they do all the fundamentals well and enjoy what they are doing.”



Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

22 Go to comments
TRENDING Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team