In­ter­view Skiv­ing­ton ‘chomp­ing at the bit to get go­ing’

New head coach aims to halt Glouces­ter’s re­cent de­cline by turn­ing their pack into the in­tim­i­dat­ing force of the past

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Coles

The first 24 hours of Ge­orge Skiv­ing­ton’s time in charge of Glouces­ter were cer­tainly ran­corous.

His ap­point­ment as Glouces­ter’s next head coach last month is a mat­ter that his for­mer club, Lon­don Ir­ish, are con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue, be­liev­ing Glouces­ter are in breach of Pre­mier­ship Rugby’s code of con­duct for mak­ing an il­le­gal

ap­proach to ap­point Skiv­ing­ton as Jo­han Ack­er­mann’s suc­ces­sor. Skiv­ing­ton started work at King­sholm last week, aim­ing to ar­rest Glouces­ter’s re­cent de­cline, amid the wider con­tract-re­lated chaos dom­i­nat­ing the Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship. Glouces­ter re­turned to the play-offs last sea­son for the first time in eight years and, at that stage, the ma­jor over­haul at the club over the past two months would have been unimag­in­able. Now, Glouces­ter are in ninth place and nine points off the play-offs, Ack­er­mann has gone as head coach, David Humphreys, too, as di­rec­tor of rugby, along with as­sis­tant coach Rory Teague and a hand­ful of lead­ing play­ers.

At 37, Skiv­ing­ton is the Pre­mier­ship’s youngest head coach by 12 days over Lee Black­ett, of Wasps.

head coach to be start­ing out at a new club. Skiv­ing­ton says: “Mea­sures have to be taken to make sure the game sur­vives and is sus­tain­able. The salary cap drop­ping will change the land­scape of the game. Peo­ple have to adapt.

“I would like to think that af­ter four months off sit­ting at home, watch­ing re-runs of old games and talk­ing shop, that play­ers, coaches and every­one in­volved within the club will be ab­so­lutely mad keen and very grate­ful for the job that they have. I know I am cer­tainly in that po­si­tion. I am chomp­ing at the bit to get in­volved. You take the pos­i­tives of hav­ing a rest and spend­ing time with your fam­ily, but there is also a burn­ing in your stom­ach to get back out there.”

Skiv­ing­ton’s de­par­ture from Ir­ish might have been ac­ri­mo­nious but he speaks pos­i­tively about his time work­ing un­der De­clan Kid­ney and Les Kiss fol­low­ing his re­tire­ment, hav­ing been part of Ir­ish’s pro­mo­tion and sub­se­quent com­pet­i­tive re­turn to the Pre­mier­ship be­fore the sea­son was sus­pended.

“Sit­ting in that room, lis­ten­ing and learn­ing, be­ing given more and more re­spon­si­bil­ity as time went on was great for me,” he ex­plains. “It was a great learn­ing point to see two guys with slightly dif­fer­ent views, or some­times strongly dif­fer­ent views, find­ing a way to align, to get a pro­gramme to push on and put the foun­da­tions in place for some­thing that I am sure will be suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture.”

As for Skiv­ing­ton, hav­ing the Shed on his side for the first time – when Glouces­ter’s sa­cred stand is al­lowed to re­turn to its vo­cal, tightly-packed self af­ter Covid-19 – will be a wel­come change. “I re­mem­ber win­ning and los­ing at King­sholm. When you do win, it’s a big scalp to take and you leave on a high. When you came here and got a hid­ing, it was a long jour­ney home. Cer­tainly, I am look­ing for­ward to be­ing on the in­side.”

Ready for the chal­lenge: Ge­orge Skiv­ing­ton (left) pic­tured last Septem­ber when he was Lon­don Ir­ish for­wards coach; (top, left) Skiv­ing­ton play­ing for Le­ices­ter in 2011 and (right) sup­port­ers in Glouces­ter’s Shed stand

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