CHRISTIAN CALIFANO, one of the best front row forwards of all time, has agreed a one-year extension to his contract with Gloucester Rugby until the end of the 2007/08 season.
The prop's original deal included an option for either side to terminate the contract at the end of this season, but Califano's presence on and off the field has convinced both parties to move early to extend the agreement.
"I'm really happy to confirm my second year at the club," Califano told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "We have an extremely talented group of players that will challenge for major honours over the next 18 months.
"I've enjoyed settling in at the club and playing in front of the Shed at Kinghsolm - it's an unbelievable atmosphere and really gets me fired up. Believe me, the best is yet to come."
Califano (34) won 68 French caps during his illustrious international career and joined Gloucester from Agen in the summer. He has made 11 appearances in all competitions so far this season for Gloucester, who currently sit second in the Guinness Premiership, and has been voted in the all-time best French front row.
"We're absolutely delighted to confirm Cali's extension," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"Since his arrival he has integrated seamlessly into the club and has provided real guidance and leadership both on and off the field, particularly to our young players. His performances have been strong and his ability to play at both tight and loosehead gives us real flexibility on the field."
Gloucester travel to Oyonnax for the second round of the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Saturday evening, and Director of Rugby David Humphreys is expecting a big test from the French side, feeling that their league position doesn't reflect their recent performances.
Speaking exclusively to Gloucester Rugby TV, Matt Kvesic explained that his decision to extend his contract at Kingsholm was a simple one and that he was hugely excited for the future in Cherry and White.
Speaking after the 55-0 win over CA Brive, Jonny May told GRTV that he's delighted that the team's hard work is starting to pay dividends but was equally happy for his friend and team mate, Charlie Sharples, on what was a big night for his fellow winger.
Speaking to the local media this week, David Humphreys insisted that Gloucester are looking forward to kicking off the new European Rugby Challenge Cup against Brive on Thursday evening, although an unfamiliar opponent and a five day turnaround will pose a challenge.