GLOUCESTER Rugby's head coach Dean Ryan has given his club's growing involvement with the Pertemps Bees a glowing endorsement and believes it is crucial in the development of players at both clubs.
Ryan was speaking after Gloucester Rugby announced a formal link with the National One side - skippered by former Kingsholm lock Mark Cornwell - that will see a number of players go on loan from Gloucester throughout the coming season.
The project has already paid handsome dividends for both clubs. Early last season, both Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway spent time at Sharmans Cross Road to gain first team experience and returned to Kingsholm later in the year to make vital contributions to Gloucester's European Challenge Cup success.
Lamb then joined up with the England Under-21 party for the World Championships, while Narraway was a member of the England Saxons Churchill Cup squad.
"We have already got first class evidence of the success of this scheme following the contributions guys like Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway made for us last season," Ryan told <http://www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk/
"I am certain that the exposure to senior rugby with the Bees helped their development substantially. It provides game-time and match fitness and is an avenue we want to explore further.
"We have a number of young players like Dean Miller and Dan Tuohy who will benefit massively from this arrangement. Having someone like Mark Cornwell involved with the Bees this season is a huge bonus because he has first-hand experience of what makes a top Premiership player.
"It can help fast-track development of these guys and at the same time offer Pertemps some quality players."
Gloucester also anticipate full-back Jon Goodridge, stand-off Brad Davies and prop Terry Sigley being involved in the scheme so regular first team players retain their match fitness when not involved in the Guinness Premiership.
Phil Maynard, Director of Rugby at Pertemps Bees, added: "We are pleased to be able to strengthen our links with Gloucester.
"We have played our part in developing the likes of Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway in the past two seasons and our partnership with Gloucester adds depth and experience to our first team squad.
"We are particualrly pleased to be able to welcome Terry Sigley back on loan. Terry was a key member of the side that took us to the semi-finals of the Powergen Cup two years ago and to fourth place in National One.
"We encouraged him to try his hand with Gloucester and he will come back to us a better player having had two seasons of Premiership rugby."
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Monday evening saw Freddie Clarke in A League action against Exeter, Saturday saw him make his Aviva Premiership debut. And both games resulted in wins! Freddie spoke to GRTV after the 39-30 win over Sale.
Speaking to the local media this week, back row Ross Moriarty spoke of the squad's determination to cut out mistakes, and get a composed performance in as they host Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell is expecting a tough test this weekend against a Sale Sharks side who have been playing some good rugby in recent weeks, but told the local media this week that the whole squad are determined to finish the season as positively as possible.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final against Stade Rochelais.
Charlie Beckett and Tom Hudson have been regulars in the Gloucester United side that's competed in the Aviva Premiership A League this season and are hoping to be involved in the semi-final against Wasps on Monday evening at Kingsholm, kick off 7:30pm.