You will have seen in the news about Worcester Warriors being suspended from all competitions, and subsequently going into administration. You will also have read that Wasps are facing significant financial challenges, and have given notice of applying for administration.
Firstly, I wanted to say that I’m sure, like me, you have huge sympathy for the staff, players and fans of those clubs going through that uncertainty. We may be rivals on the pitch, but not off it – they’re all people like you and me.
You may also have seen speculation in the press and on social media about the overall financial state of English club rugby.
I wanted to take a moment to give you a few facts, and to reassure you about the position that we are in at Gloucester Rugby.
Through careful planning, the efforts of our fantastic staff across the organisation, and, of course the tremendous support we enjoy from our fans and business partners, our financial position is the best it’s been for many years. As we emerge from the impact of Covid our operating profitability is heading towards positive levels, and last year saw our highest ever turnover. We have developed a five-year plan which shows both those key measurements continuing to improve.
We’re not where we want to be yet, but we are heading firmly in the right direction.
You may have read that both Worcester and Wasps have significant debts with HMRC. We do not owe anything to HMRC.
There was an article in an online newspaper a couple of weeks ago which ended up being widely shared which suggested that Gloucester Rugby’s debt was around £27 million. That figure is completely wrong. Our debts are nowhere near that level. It is reasonable to assume that as that newspaper got our numbers so wrong, that their other numbers are also wrong.
We did take out a loan from DCMS as part of the Sports Survival Package (every Premiership club took out a similar loan, some for more, some for less than ours). We have robust plans in place which will allow us to pay back that loan when the payments become due in a couple of years’ time. The repayment period is over many years, so will not put undue pressure on us.
Unfortunately, Worcester being suspended from competition and then going into administration means that our scheduled game against them on Saturday has been called off. It has not yet been decided whether it is postponed or cancelled. That will depend to some extent on how quickly Worcester are able to come out of administration. If it happens quickly, and only a game or two are missed, then I expect the game will be rescheduled. If not then I expect it will be cancelled.
Having a home game cancelled does, of course, have a significant financial impact on us. It also has an impact on the many local businesses that depend on Gloucester Rugby match days to boost their income. As a fan of the Club, and perhaps as someone who enjoys a pre-match routine at local pubs or restaurants, the one big thing that you could do to help is to come to more games, buy one more pint, buy one more pie.
If everyone came to one more game than they had planned to do this season, that would overcome the impact of the potential cancellation of Worcester game – on both your Club and all those local businesses.
And with the way the squad is playing this year, you’re pretty much guaranteed a really exciting day out. Our next home game is against Bristol on Saturday 15th October, and the one after that is against Exeter on Friday 28th October. You can buy your tickets here.
We have announced an open training session on Saturday instead of the game. If you haven’t been to Kingsholm so far this season do please come and join us. It’s free to get in (although you will need a ticket – click here for yours), so why not bring the whole family? You’ll have a chance not only to watch the senior men’s team train, but also to meet the players afterwards. Full details are here. You can even get your rugby match fix by staying on in the Stowford Clubhouse to watch the Saracens v Leicester game with us on BT Sport.
We look forward to welcoming you to Kingsholm soon.
Leicester Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar said: “The group, players and staff were on the go for 23 weeks straight so getting away from the game for a period was really beneficial and we’ve come back in enthused for this challenge this week.
“Ealing are a team full of experience and quality, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the result we want, on a big day for the likes of Hanro and Finn.
“It’s fitting that Hanro leads us on his 100th game. He carried a lot of the leadership burden during the World Cup and continues to be someone the boys can count on to lead with his actions.”
Scott MacLeod is returning to Newcastle Falcons as line-out coach, with the former Scotland lock on board until at least the end of the season.
The Hawick native spent 11 years with the Falcons, making 61 appearances as a player before joining the coaching team in 2016.
Having departed Kingston Park last summer MacLeod will now return to impart his expertise, combining coaching commitments with working for his family’s business in the Scottish Borders.
Newcastle Falcons’ consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “Scott is a well-respected line-out specialist who can help us make some big gains in that area between now and the end of the season.
“He knows and loves the club, he’s very well regarded here and I’m looking forward to getting him back involved.
“We’ve initially said it’s until the end of the season and I know Scott has other business commitments, but if it works well for both parties over the next few months then we’ll be happy to look at extending it beyond that.”
Capped 24 times by Scotland in a playing career which also saw him starring for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Scarlets, Kobelco Steelers and Newcastle, the set-piece specialist is relishing the prospect of reinvigorating the Falcons’ line-out during the remainder of the season.
MacLeod said: “Our line-out has consistently been in the top four of the Premiership over the past few years, so hopefully I can come in and help get us back up there.
“I’ve been watching the games from afar this season because Newcastle Falcons is still a big part of my life, even though I’ve not been personally involved since the summer. I just want to come in and make a positive difference, get us back to where we should be and help the boys.”
Having spent more than a decade at Kingston Park as a player and coach, MacLeod insisted the opportunity to return was just too good to pass up.
“I’ve missed the place a lot,” said the 44-year-old.
“I’m now working for my family’s business, MacLeod Glass, up in Hawick, but I’m sure any sportsperson will tell you they miss being in and around that team environment. It’s certainly very different going from a Premiership rugby club to working in a factory every day, and it’s been a shock to the system.
“I’ll now get to combine both, and I’ve missed being involved with the professional game. I’ve been coaching my son’s S2 side to get my rugby fix, but I’m buzzing to be back with the Falcons. It’s a really special club for me.”
Setting out with one clear aim, the Scot said: “I just want us to get our identity back.
“I’ll come in, assess our strengths and our weaknesses and come up with a plan accordingly. I know some of the players really well and I don’t know others at all, but luckily with us having this big break before our next game it’s absolutely ideal timing for getting things in place.
“One thing you have to bear in mind with Newcastle is how bad the weather is, in terms of how much you can push it in the line-out, but I just want to get the confidence back into the boys.
“It’s about simple things being done well on a consistent basis, and I’m starting this week to help put it in motion.
“I’ve got a few weeks to get to know the guys I’ve not worked with before, see how it all ties in with the lads I already know and then knit it all together into a game plan which works best for the team.
“As I say, I just want us to have that Newcastle Falcons identity again when it comes to the line-out, and I’m really positive about things. We’ll see how it works between now and the end of the season, and if everyone’s happy then we can see where it goes.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Leicester Tigers on Good Friday (March 29), with tickets on sale for the 7.45pm kick-off by clicking here.
Sharks scrum-half Gus Warr has committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new deal keeping him at the Salford Stadium until the end of the 2026/27 season.
The 24-year-old has played more than 70 first team games for the club since making his debut against Harlequins at the Stoop in September, 2018.
Gus, who has represented both Scotland and England at age grade level, played his junior rugby at Winnington Park RFC and Bowdon RFC before joining the Sharks Academy at the age of 14.
The 5’8” half-back joined Doncaster Knights on loan at the end of the 2019/20 season, and then re-joined again on a dual-registry deal ahead of the 2021/22.
Injuries led to his early return and he took his chance, quickly becoming a Sharks regular and featuring in the Premiership final at the end of the 2022/23 season.
Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Gus surprises me on a daily basis. I don’t know if he always loves me but I love him. Gus isn’t as physical as some other players in his position, but there is no-one who can match him for sheer grit, effort and determination.
“I don’t think he’s ever better than when he’s challenged or labelled ‘just alright’. He’s so much more than that and we’re so lucky to have him.
“His character epitomises what we’re all about here – he’s hard-working, resilient, robust and northern and that’s everything we strive to be as a club and as a team.
“Gus is still only young so there’s so much more to come from him. Everyone is buzzing that he wants to stay here.”
Gus said: “Playing for Sale Sharks has been my ambition since I was very young and now to get to play in front of an amazing crowd every week, with some of my best mates, is a dream come true.
“We’ve got so many young, hungry players and this is a really exciting time to push on and build on what was started last year and show that Northern rugby really matters.”