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George Skivington: “I don’t regret what we’ve done”

Gloucester Director of Rugby George Skivington says he doesn’t regret his decision to play a rotated side against Northampton Saints, despite coming out on the wrong side of a 90-0 thrashing. 

The Cherry and Whites Premiership campaign is virtually over anyway, with them not being able to move up or down the table; but only three players kept their starting shirt from the side that beat Benetton a week previous.

Speaking to the media after the game, Skivington said he didn’t regret his decision to rotate the side.

“We’re just like every team, we’ve got banged up players and we don’t have as big a squad as some teams to just you know rotate people through. I’ve got to manage them to make sure we’ve got the best team at the end of the season. I’ve got a pretty rigid plan, even down to Lewis Ludlow coming off at half-time; that’s what I had written in my book and I stuck to it.”

He added: “Obviously it was probably a game you’d like to leave Lewis on and have some seniority leadership out there, but I’ve got a rigid plan and I’m going to stick to that plan no matter what. This is probably the day that challenges you on that plan when you’re living and breathing it, but I don’t regret what we’ve done. I think if we change the plan we’re not preparing ourselves best for where we can actually compete.”

The 90-0 rout was the biggest ever home win in Premiership history, and is the second-highest points total for a single game in the league after Richmond’s 106-12 win over Bedford back in 1999. It was also the heaviest league defeat in Gloucester’s 151 year history.

“It’s painful”-Gloucester boss Skivington reflects on monster defeat

George Skivington-Credit: IMAGO

The defeat in the East Midland’s was Gloucester’s fourth Premiership loss in a row; but, as stated, it was the club’s heaviest-ever league defeat.

Looking back at the game, boss Skivington said: “It’s brutal. That was absolutely ruthless from Saints. I thought there might be a heavy score line today when I saw the team they selected; but that was extremely painful. I thought Saints were absolutely ruthless.”

He added: “It’s painful, it’s definitely painful.”

Whilst the defeat will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for many of the Kingsholm faithful, Skivington said he was fully expecting this could be a possibility.

“That’s where we’ve got to break the game down for them and say, as we did all week, there’s some fundamentals that you’ve got to worry about. My message all week was ‘don’t worry about a score line’. I knew at some point Saints would run away and get a score line. I’m not saying we came here thinking we’d get beaten, but I knew there’d be big shifts in the game that would be hard to deal with.

The Cherry and Whites now prepare for a clash with bottom side Newcastle Falcons, who travel to Kingsholm desperate to end the season with a win.

Bringing the integrity of the Premiership into question?

George Skivington-Credit: IMAGO

The defeat, of course, paints a bad picture for the wider sport. Gloucester have a Challenge Cup final firmly on the horizon, and today was a clear sign they are saving players for the clash against the Sharks.

Commenting on whether it brings the integrity of the Premiership into question, Skivington said: “I don’t think it’s anything about integrity. Anyone in my position who’s got to manage the fit bodies that I’ve got left for the rest of the season would make decisions to do that. I didn’t anticipate a score line like that; but I don’t think our integrity could be challenged.”

This has been a big topic in the European competitions of late, with the South African teams accused of deliberately playing weakened teams for away fixtures in Europe; but now it seems the opposite is the case for Gloucester.