Stephen Varney

Meet the Opposition: Gloucester Edition

Gloucester’s season to date

Gloucester need no introduction in this competition, having lifted the trophy in both 2006 and 2015, but how are they going this season? 

It has been a season of mixed fortunes for Glos. They're seeded 2nd position in the EPCR Challenge Cup after an undefeated campaign in Europe this season, yet currently sit 9th out of 10 in the Gallagher Premiership, with a points difference of -102 and 26 league points. Sale are currently 8th, with 37 league points and a points difference of -20. 

The team have recorded 4 Premiership wins this season out of 14, with a home win vs Harlequins, an away win vs bottom of the table Newcastle Falcons, a victory over Sale Shark at Kingsholm, and most recently Leicester Tigers away from home in March. 

In Europe, their campaign has been far more successful and started with a hard-earned win vs Georgia’s Black Lion, the team securing a 15-10 win after a huge performance from the Tbilisi based side. Next up was Clermont Auvergne at Kingsholm, where the home team put out a performance to record a 28-17 win. This was followed up by an away win, won by the finest of margins with a 74th minute try from Zach Mercer, the conversion from Adam Hastings giving the visitors a single point victory, 20-21 on the road. 

From there, Castres were the opposition for their final round in the pools, as well as the round of the 16, with both fixtures played at Kingsholm. In the first meeting, the home side dispatched of their French visitors with a convincing 35-5 win, though the round of 16 game last week was somewhat closer, with Gloucester winning 30-25.

Gloucester also won the Premiership Cup this year, which has seemed to ignite their season.

One thing is for sure, Gloucester may have had a mixed season, but they’re loving playing European ties at Kingsholm and will be a tough opposition for us come Friday night. 

Their Squad

The squad, as with any club of such heritage, is littered with talent. Let’s pick out a few of the danger men for our opponents. 

Stephen Varney

Siarad Cymraeg? Stephen Varney does. The Welsh speaker was born to an Italian mother and his father Adrian Varney was a flanker for Neath. Varney opted to play international rugby for Italy and with two wins for the Italians across the last three Six Nations meetings, he certainly is used to facing Welsh sides and coming out on top. A real live wire on the ball he is also a key man for this Gloucester team, a real talent that the boys will have to keep their eyes on at all times.

JOhnny may

In a squad that's used to flyers such as Ollie Thorley, Santi Carreras and previously Louis Rees-Zammit, Johnny May has consistently been a stand out for the club, and needs no introduction. England's 2nd highest try scorer in history is one to watch. 

Chris Harris

Harris is a player that needs no introduction. The Scotland International and British & Irish Lion has been famed for his defensive prowess. Not only a player capable of big hits and solid defence, but someone who reads the game in a way that many others do not. He knows where he needs to be, who he needs to hit and rarely puts a foot wrong. Perhaps overshone for many by the attacking flair of Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones in Scotland’s centres in recent years, Harris has also developed his attacking game and will be a real threat on both sides of the ball on Friday night. 

Their Stats

A team with some star ball carriers, Gloucester have been one of the competitions leaders when it comes to making people miss. With 97 players beaten in the EPCR Challenge Cup, they are 5th on the leaderboard. 

Mercer has been at the forefront of that, leading the competition in carries with 78 and 15 players beaten putting him in fourth place in that category. The impressive backrower has beaten 16 players, the third most in total. 

On the defensive side, Jack Clement has been causing trouble for opposition teams at the breakdown, with seven turnovers to his name in the EPCR Challenge Cup (5th in the competition).

Our head-to-head

This game will be the first time we have played Gloucester in the EPCR Challenge Cup. However, we have faced them 10 times in the past across other competitions. Ospreys have won 4 of the ten, including a win at Kingsholm by 16-22 in August 2009.

Tickets are still available for the game.