In a new series of articles the official website has teamed up with the weekly rugby paper Rugby Times to bring the latest thoughts of Gloucester and France's defence coach Dave Ellis.
Ellis has a weekly column in the rugby newspaper and his words will be updated on to this site on the day the paper hits the shops.
Supporters can subscribe to the weekly publication, which has 28 pages of rugby updates, by visiting www.rugbytimes.com
Dave Ellis - Rugby Times Column - Friday 21 January
After the defeat against Stade Francais on Sunday I ventured into the clubhouse bar to meet my brother Geoff who had travelled from Lincoln with a group of friends to watch the game.
It wasn't long before I was recognised in the bar and on my visit to the toilet was stopped by an irate fan who was determined to air his views "that was totally unacceptable Ellis" he exclaimed.
I understood and shared his frustration and attempted to explain our downfall. Soon after, two more aggrieved supporters approached me - their posture was confrontational and they were clearly upset and once again I tried to explain the reasons for our performance.
The supporters quite rightly wanted to know 'why', and although you can generalise immediately after a game the real job of the coach is to analyse the performance in detail and work with the players to improve. The players, coaches and officials of the club are as equally disappointed as the paying fans and I hope and believe everyone will get behind the team for this weekend's Powergen Cup clash with local rivals Bristol.
A few weeks ago France got flogged in Paris by the All Blacks. Our preparation had been excellent, the team was full of quality players and despite a defeat against Argentina the week before, confidence was high. So what happened? Did the team that so convincingly defeated Australia two weeks previously, suddenly become a team of 'has beens' overnight? The answer is no. The problem with the two games, that night in the Stade de France and on Sunday at Kingsholm was - unforced errors.
At this level of rugby, there is a fine line between victory and defeat as a team like Northampton clearly illustrate. They are a team packed with quality, but have been unable to buy a win in league fixtures and are languishing at the wrong end of the Zurich Premiership. Most of our problems on Sunday were self-inflicted, sure we had to gamble to defeat Stade by three tries and avoid conceding the bonus point - difficult, but not impossible.
We brought back Duncan McRae at outside half and James Simpson-Daniel on the wing. Both players desperately short of match practice due to long-term injury, but both potential match winners and we felt, worth the gamble.
We had worked throughout the week on the importance of field position and gradually increasing the pressure on the opposition, playing a controlled focused game and eliminating errors. But, almost straight from the kick-off we knocked-on, giving Stade immediate territorial advantage, further handling and kicking errors followed and soon the Parisian three-quaters took advantage of our disarray with Christophe Dominici scoring a soft try in the corner, following a chip over.
It was a bad start that got worse. We needed composure to ease our way back, but sadly we panicked and firstly, Stephan Glas intercepted, then following a lost ball in a good attacking position (incidentally Brian Liebenberg knocked-on before the try was scored) a breakaway resulted in a try for Mauro Bergermassco. If our task had been difficult from the start it was now almost impossible, we needed an extraordinary performance, but it wasn't to be as the confidence had totally drained from the team.
In summary, there is no doubt Stade Francais are a quality team, but they weren't put under any pressure due to our large error count in defence, handling and poor kicking options. I spoke with my good friend Fabien Galthie after the game and he perfectly summed up the game in one line "you conceded two easy tries and then went into panic mode".
Many of our players are in the England squad that went to Leeds earlier this week; training with the Rhino's and our first session was on Thursday morning. I'm hoping the players will collectively put in a quality performance, after all our supporters deserve better!
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