Var­ney seizes big Glouces­ter op­por­tu­nity

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Rugby Union - By Ben Coles at King­sholm

The Glouces­ter scrum-half Stephen Var­ney, man of the match in this bonus-point vic­tory on Sat­ur­day, might not have ex­pected to get this much play­ing time a few months ago, but has thrived in his new role.

The Car­marthen-born 19-yearold has scored four times in five games since the res­tart and his try wrapped up a re­sult that moves Glouces­ter to within touch­ing dis- tance of the Cham­pi­ons Cup places.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it, but I’m hon­oured and priv­i­leged to get out there,” Var­ney said. “I’m en­joy­ing the new en­vi­ron­ment here. It’s a good, young squad with a few ex­pe­ri­enced lads to learn off.

“I’m orig­i­nally from west Wales, Pembrokesh­ire, and came to Hart­pury Col­lege at 16 to join the Glouces­ter academy. It has all flown by since then.”

Glouces­ter trailed af­ter 50 min­utes fol­low­ing Agustin Creevy’s try for Lon­don Ir­ish be­fore the hosts kicked on, with an­other qual­ity try by Wales prodigy Louis Rees-Zam­mit set­ting his side on their way.

The first half had been more of a bat­tle, as Var­ney noted, with Glouces­ter heav­ily pe­nalised at the break­down but still ahead 17-13 at the break thanks to tries from Lloyd Evans and Ol­lie Thor­ley, the Gal­lagher Premier­ship’s top scorer, with his 11th of the sea­son.

“We strug­gled to ex­e­cute our game plan in the first half, so it was good to pull away in the sec­ond,” Var­ney said. “We’re try­ing to get in that top six and po­ten­tially fur­ther.”

Ge­orge Skiv­ing­ton, the Glouces­ter head coach, came out on top in his first game against his for­mer side and praised the work tak­ing place be­hind the scenes on Var­ney’s devel­op­ment by Tim Tay­lor, the club’s skills and academy backs tran­si­tion coach.

“Tim Tay­lor, in par­tic­u­lar, has put a huge amount of ef­fort into push­ing Steve for­wards and help­ing him to de­velop to where he is now,” Skiv­ing­ton said.

Lon­don Ir­ish pro­duced one of their bet­ter per­for­mances since the res­tart, with Ol­lie Has­sell-Collins scor­ing their other try, but have now lost their past seven Premier­ship matches.

They also lost Sekope Kepu, their ex­pe­ri­enced Aus­tralia prop, to in­jury in the first half. “His Achilles got a bit tight and on the grounds, the way they are now, he just couldn’t keep go­ing,” De­clan Kid­ney, the Lon­don Ir­ish di­rec­tor of rugby, said.

Hon­oured: Stephen Var­ney has scored four tries in five Glouces­ter games since the res­tart

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