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."
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Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
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Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.