Varney seizes big Gloucester opportunity
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