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The Rugby Pod's astonishing claim about the Gloucester signing of Jonny May

By Liam Heagney

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Former England international Andy Goode has made an astonishing allegation about the deal that will take Jonny May from Leicester back to Gloucester at the end of this month. It was April 11 when Eddie Jones’ Test level winger decided his club career would be best served by returning to Kingsholm three years after he left to join the Tigers. 


The signing of May was trumpeted as a Gallagher Premiership coup by Gloucester. However, just 34 days after the recruitment of the 30-year-old winger was revealed, head coach Johan Ackermann quit for a position in the Japanese Top 14. This surprise exit of the popular South African was then followed just 18 days later by the decision of David Humphreys, the Gloucester director of rugby, to also walk away from the club. 

Those departures have generated much speculation about what has been going on behind the scenes at Kingsholm and Goode, who fronts the chart-topping Rugby Pod podcast with ex-Gloucester skipper Jim Hamilton, has blamed CEO Lance Bradley for the upheaval, even claiming that the administrator, who only joined the club last summer, signed May and not the now-ousted director of rugby and head coach.

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RugbyPass brings you the season finale of The Rugby Pod, the chart-topping show fronted by Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton
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RugbyPass brings you the season finale of The Rugby Pod, the chart-topping show fronted by Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton

With Bradley turning down an invitation to guest on The Rugby Pod to take questions on what has happened in recent months at the club that reached the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals last year, Goode outlined what he believes has occurred, even apportioning some blame towards Danny Cipriani, last year’s top-flight players’ player of the year.   

“We started talking about this weeks ago and it has rumbled on ever since,” said Goode, picking up the thread in an episode that was the 2019/20 season finale for the show. “We have seen Johan Ackermann leave, we have now seen David Humphreys leave. 

“When we saw Johan leave initially our original feeling was of massive disappointment because he is a very well-liked character who was clearly doing a good job for Gloucester. It was the first time they got to the Premiership playoffs in ten years and David Humphreys was the director of rugby above him. 


“We speak to people and have got numerous sources around the game that told us Johan felt his position at the club became untenable because Lance Bradley, some players had gone to him behind his back and there were rumours that it was Cipriani to try and push (assistant) Rory Teague into the head coach’s role. 

“With that, Johan says, ‘Look, I’m not happy with this situation, I want to speak to other clubs about perhaps looking for alternative employment’. That happens and then David Humphreys is leading the charge on trying to find a replacement, and I actually said I don’t think it will be the last change you will see at the club because you actually then start looking into things and who is making these decisions. 

“I’m just speaking from what I think I know and understand from what I have been told. David Humphreys’ position had become untenable at the club as director of rugby, that is why he has left. 

“I have heard rumours that it was Lance Bradley that signed Jonny May behind David Humphreys’ and Johan’s back and there wasn’t an agreement from those guys – that Jonny May was signed by the CEO as this big signing. Whether it is true or not I don’t know and I would have liked to have asked Lance but he didn’t come on. But this is what I have been told.”


Replying to Goode’s claim, Hamilton said: “Let me clear this up – so you think Jonny May hasn’t been signed by Johan, who was in situ at the time, and David Humphreys, who would have made the signing because that is the role of a director of rugby in line with your head coach?”

Goode confirmed that was exactly what he was alleging before carrying on further. “Why does David Humphreys leave that job? Why does David Humphreys go after the club have made a big announcement saying he is leading a worldwide search for the very best available head coach to work alongside him? Why does he leave the club two weeks later?

“The position has become untenable because Lance Bradley has been making decisions. We have said, who has got the power there, who is making these decisions? Is it Lance Bradley, is it David Humphreys on the rugby side?

“Of course there has got to be decisions both people make. But David Humphreys feels his position is untenable because other people are making rugby decisions when he is the director of rugby, which is clearly what I have been told and one of them is around Jonny May being signed. 

“Look at the back three that they have got. Louis Rees-Zammit, Ollie Thorley, (Matt) Banahan is there, I don’t know whether he is still there next year or not. You have got Jason Woodward, you have got (Tom) Marshall, (Charlie) Sharples is there as well. Do you need a Jonny May? This is nothing against Jonny May at all. 

“Is it a luxury? Is it a Lance Bradley ‘I’m a super fan’, is it that that sort of signing where the CEO goes, ‘Let’s get him back to the club’ and then the actual head coach and the director of rugby don’t want him there? This is what I’m being told. 

“You are only ever going to get the party line from the club, aren’t you? The truth and what they put out there in the press are going to be two very different things but rugby is a very small world and people talk. People know stuff.

“I believe Humphreys felt he had no power as director of rugby because of the way Lance was and I think you will end up seeing Rory Teague as head coach. I think Cipriani has been involved in trying to push that case as well, and that is where the club is at but it just seems it has imploded from inside really. 

“I am telling you now, David Humphreys, the only way he is leaving that club is if he has got a payout because he has got a very big contract, very well paid and rightly so as he was doing a good job and was the director of rugby. He’s not just going to walk away, it’s business. 

“But you do hope whatever decisions they make now with their owner and the board and Lance Bradley it’s done with the best interests of the club at heart and not a personal kind of ‘I’m the CEO’… you could be an exceptional businessman but you need rugby IQ to make rugby decisions and unfortunately you can’t see that at Gloucester at the minute.”

With London Irish assistant coach George Skivington the latest name to be mentioned in connection with the coaching vacancy, Hamilton added: “They [Gloucester] are in a state of disarray at the minute. I watched Lance Bradley’s interview talking about the coaching shortlist they have got and the amount of people that are interested, I don’t know who will take that job. I really don’t.

“You look at the situation going on in the background that we heard might be the case, you do your research and you speak to Johan Ackermann and you speak to David Humphreys, I just don’t know why David Humphreys would walk away. I don’t think Gloucester will get a big name coach in with the set-up they seem to have at the minute.” 


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