Six months is a long time in rugby but something has gone badly wrong for Danny Cipriani to go from eulogising over George Skivington’s appointment to leaving Gloucester in such a short space of time. The head coach can say there is no story here and he has rightly nipped it in the bud to avoid an ongoing saga – but it is big news and people are inevitably going to be talking about it.
Cipriani described Skivington’s appointment at the end of June by Gloucester as “the most exciting announcement of a head coach I have seen in rugby”, adding he was “the type of man you build a club around”.
Of course, players are going to say favourable things when a new coach comes in but those are particularly glowing endorsements and it is inevitable that people are going to ask questions about how things have gone south so quickly.
What we do know is that he was disappointing in his last outing for the Cherry and Whites, the 38-15 defeat at Leicester last month, and I understand after being dropped for the following game against Wasps he didn’t turn up for training which resulted in things coming to a head in double-quick time.
In truth, the form of Cipriani hasn’t been good for a while now and he was left out of the Gloucester squad for the game against Wasps the following week.
Surface scratched on Cipriani's sudden Gloucester exit https://t.co/ZfxNr7JZgZ
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Gloucester are left with Lloyd Evans and youngster George Barton as their only fly-half options for the remainder of this season unless someone is brought in on a short-term deal before Adam Hastings’ arrival in the summer. That decision wouldn’t have been taken lightly, especially with Cipriani having almost two years left on his contract. He signed a new three-year contract at the club in April 2019.
He has been through a tough time over the past year or so and that may have had a part to play, but it looks like he has found happiness off the field now judging by his activity on social media.
Cipriani made 50 passes that led to a break in his 35 Premiership games for Gloucester, which is a massive 17 more than any other player in the whole league during his time there, and nobody can better his 21 try assists during that period of time either.
He won the RPA players’ player of the year award in 2018/19 having inspired Gloucester to a first Premiership play-off appearance for eight years but it’s another instance of his time at a club being cut short. When you are as high profile as Danny is, having burst onto the scene for England at the age of 21, the headlines are going to follow you around to a certain extent.
However, from the night out on the eve of his supposed international debut to the bus in Sale to the incident in Jersey to whatever the circumstances are behind him ending his contract at Gloucester so early, there is a lengthy list of them.
The fact that his England career clearly appears to be over may be a significant factor in all of this as well. I was championing him to start for England a few years ago and he did get a fleeting opportunity on the tour to South Africa in 2018.
He seemed to take his chance in the third Test on that trip but Eddie Jones hasn’t picked him since. A lot of people will argue that he has never been given a fair crack of the whip at international level but it’s Jones’ prerogative to pick who he wants.
Cipriani signed this Gloucester contract when he still had realistic England ambitions and with that ambition having since faded, he may have thought a new challenge elsewhere could be more up his street and that could have been an issue.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 17, 2020
My understanding is he was one of the players who had the ear of chief executive Lance Bradley when all the turmoil was going on behind the scenes at Kingsholm last season so it’s fair to wonder what Johan Ackermann and David Humphreys are thinking right now as well.
It will be interesting to see what Cipriani’s next move is because he is a mercurial talent and I’m sure still has a lot to give on the field, but I’m not sure there will be too many Premiership clubs looking at him in the current climate.
I know he likes the US and spends a lot of time in California but I’m not sure Major League Rugby has the finances to make him an offer he can’t refuse, and he seems very settled in his home life so a move abroad may not be the perfect fit at the moment.
Whatever happens in the future, though, everyone loves watching Cipriani play when he is at his best and it’s just a shame that another spell at a club has been shorter than expected. Hopefully, there is a bit more to come yet.
I had more than my fair share of clubs towards the end of my career after a decade at Leicester and there are two sides to every story when it comes to a player leaving a club. But you just hope he doesn’t regret the somewhat nomadic nature of his career and what has transpired at different clubs when all is said and done and he has hung up the boots.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 17, 2020
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