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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

Johan van Graan has quietly set about improving every facet of the West Country club and results are starting to come

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'It is inspirational as a coach to see someone do that'

By PA
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

George Skivington is ready for another Gallagher Premiership campaign of twists and turns after revitalising Gloucester as a force in the English game. The head coach has made significant strides with his players since arriving at Kingsholm two years ago.

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In the last eleven Premiership seasons, Gloucester have only secured three top-five finishes, and one of those was last term when they missed out on a playoff spot by just two points. It is 15 years since Gloucester made the last of their two Premiership final appearances, but a Skivington-inspired revival is well and truly underway.

“I never plan too far ahead,” said Skivington ahead of his third full season in charge having joined Gloucester during the 2020 lockdown. “In this role, I have learnt the value of planning past where you can see is completely pointless. I just deal with each hurdle as it comes along. We will lose players next season (to international call-ups), there are Premiership Rugby Cup fixtures to deal with, there are bye weeks to deal with and there will always be challenges.

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“But they are not really things to dwell on and it is more to have a plan for what is happening. You know that plan is going to have to adjust very quickly a lot of the time and it will take you off one way, something will happen and you have to go the other way. It’s all twists and turns.”

Gloucester have been the least active of all 13 Premiership clubs in the transfer market, making a solitary signing in Fiji international back-rower Albert Tuisue from London Irish. That underlines the measure of Skivington’s content with a squad that many feel could make a major push for domestic honours.

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“I don’t feel for where we are as a club and a team that wholesale changes and trying to bring people in to spark something are what we need,” he added. “I don’t really see the value of setting targets if they are not just to win. If I said to the lads that the target is to finish sixth, I wouldn’t be inspired by that. It’s not the way I do it.

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“Of course, you want to win every game but I believe that if you work unbelievably hard and give everything you have got, then everyone is going to get behind you, scream and shout and we will have a good time. Even on some dark days when we have lost, the boys have never thrown the towel in. We never will, whether we are losing by one point or 20.

“I absolutely love it here. I have committed for the long term – and the club has to me which I am very grateful for. We have laid a good foundation, but that’s it at this point in time. I’m really excited about what I think this group could do, and that brings me in buzzing every day.”

Leicester’s transformation under Steve Borthwick from an eleventh-place finish to champions in two years merely provides further inspiration. “Steve did a great job,” Skivington said. “He put that club back where it used to be.

“They fully deserved to win the league. You could see they were a very tight unit, you could see how hard they worked, the discipline in their game plan and they were very hard to play against. It is inspirational as a coach to see someone do that.”

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