Vaughan de­fends Glouces­ter stance over for­eign sign­ings

The Rugby Paper - - News - By NEALE HAR­VEY

GLOUCES­TER chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Vaughan in­sists he has no qualms over the ac­qui­si­tion of con­victed South African drugs cheat Ger­brant Grob­ler.

For­mer Western Province and Storm­ers lock Grob­ler was banned for two years af­ter ad­mit­ting to tak­ing the an­abolic steroid Drostanolone dur­ing the 2014 Currie Cup.

Grob­ler, now 26, sat out the 2015 and 2016 Su­per Rugby sea­sons be­fore re­sum­ing his ca­reer with Top 14 side Rac­ing 92 for the 2016-17 cam­paign. He then joined Mun­ster, help­ing the Ir­ish province reach last sea­son’s PRO14 fi­nal.

Mun­ster were heav­ily crit­i­cised for sign­ing the player and Glouces­ter are now fac­ing sim­i­lar scru­tiny. How­ever, Vaughan told

The Rugby Pa­per: “The thing about Grob­ler is he was young, daft and he’s held his hands up.

“He was in­jury prone and thought his ca­reer was go­ing nowhere and he took bad ad­vice, but he’s served his penance and since then he’s played for two good clubs in Rac­ing and Mun­ster and played very well.

“He’s got an ex­tremely good CV and Mun­ster were in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive about him as a guy, on and off the pitch.

“Can any­body say they’ve never made a mis­take? For me, it’s a case of peo­ple in glass houses throw­ing stones re­ally. He’s made a mis­take, ad­mit­ted it and now he’s play­ing good rugby so we’ll wel­come him with open arms.”

Glouces­ter also raised eye­brows by sign­ing four other South Africans, with lock Franco Mostert, hooker Franco Marais, flanker Jaco Kriel and prop Ruan Dreyer join­ing Grob­ler as coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann re­shapes his squad.

Vaughan de­nies the club’s com­mit­ment to English-qual­i­fied play­ers has waned, in­sist­ing: “We will hit our EQP num­ber.

“Al­though it looks like we’re just bring­ing in South Africans, we’ve also signed Danny Cipri­ani and Matt Bana­han and lost non-EQP play­ers like Ross Mo­ri­arty, Richard Hib­bard, Matt Scott, John Afoa, Motu Matu’u and David Halai­fonua.

“If peo­ple are go­ing to point fin­gers and say we’ve got five South Africans, it just feels a bit ‘Alf Gar­nett’.

“When we had Mo­ri­arty, Hib­bard and Owen Wil­liams no­body said we had too many Welsh lads. Jo­han’s just added some lieu­tenants he knows per­son­ally so there’s no is­sue.”

Mean­while, Vaughan says be­ing back in the Cham­pi­ons Cup for the first time since 2013-14 is worth up­wards of £250,000.

Hav­ing seen his club pooled with Ex­eter, Mun­ster and Top 14 cham­pi­ons Cas­tres, Vaughan said: “The dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing in the Chal­lenge Cup or Cham­pi­ons Cup is £250,000 to the bot­tom line... and more if you progress.

“We know we’ll have a min­i­mum of two sell-outs and that af­fects mem­ber­ship sales, plus bar and hos­pi­tal­ity tak­ings. If we do get through, the quar­ter­fi­nal is a money-spin­ner.”

Glouces­ter, for many years one of the Premier­ship’s few prof­itable clubs, lost £1.1m last year and will be in the red again this year, but Vaughan added: “I’m not con­cerned be­cause we have clear plans to be sus­tain­able.

“We’ve in­vested a big chunk of money in play­ers and fa­cil­i­ties, with a new pitch as well, but it’s a ‘con­trolled ex­plo­sion’. We’re not go­ing in blind, we want to be a top six club com­pet­ing strongly in both top com­pe­ti­tions.”

Boss: Stephen Vaughan

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