Gloucester Rugby Club has signed scrum-half Peter Richards on a two-year contract from London Wasps as the Kingsholm club continues its recruitment for the 2005/06 season.
The 27 year-old number nine, who was named in England's Churchill Cup squad this week, wants to stamp his authority on the Gloucester number nine shirt when he arrives in the summer.
Commenting on www.gloucesterrugbyclub.com Richards, who has played both scrum-half and centre for a successful Wasps side over the last two seasons, said: "When the opportunity to join Gloucester came up I couldn't turn it down. It's a great club and it presents me with an opportunity to get back in that number nine shirt.
"Hopefully I'll be able to impress regularly at scrum-half for Gloucester which will be good for both the Club and myself."
Director of rugby Nigel Melville, who has been looking to sign a scrum-half after Andy Gomarsall confirmed his summer move to Worcester, said: "Peter wants to focus solely on playing in the number nine shirt.
"He's one of England's top scrum-halves and his call-up to the Churchill Cup squad shows that he's highly regarded. I'm looking forward to working with him, and it's good to confirm another piece of the plan for next season."
Richards, who has made 89 Zurich Premiership appearances throughout his career, joined Wasps in the summer of 2003 after leaving relegated Bristol, and has represented England at various levels up to England 'A'.
"I'm really grateful to Warren Gatland for giving me the chance two years ago. My time at Wasps has improved my game, and I've come on as a player," said Richards.
The talented half-back has played his entire career in the number nine shirt, but has also impressed at centre for Wasps in recent seasons.
"My game has improved playing in the centre, but I want to concentrate on being the best scrum-half and achieving international recognition, which I still believe is achievable.
"I had some great times at Wasps and it's got me back into the international set-up in terms of the Sevens team, and I was delighted this week to be named in the tour to go to North America for the Churchill Cup."
Richards will be meeting up with a few familiar faces when he joins the West Country club in the summer, having played alongside Simon Amor and Henry Paul for England Sevens, and in the same side as Alex Brown at Bristol.
"I was delighted to meet up with Nigel and sign the contract, and I want to be part of what the next few seasons hold at Gloucester."
Peter Richards Profile: Position: Scrum-half
Date of birth: 10.03.78
Height: 1.75m (5ft 10")
Place of birth: Portsmouth
Previous clubs: London Wasps, Bristol, Treviso, London Irish and Harlequins.
Speaking to the local media this week ahead of the Bath Rugby game, Head Coach Laurie Fisher stressed that the fundamental shape of Gloucester's game is in good shape but that the Cherry and Whites have to look after the ball better and make more of their scoring opportunities.
Skipper for the day Willi Heinz faced the cameras after the 13-18 home loss to Newcastle and expressed real frustration at not being able to back up last week's win at Sale, calling it a performance he and his team-mates are not proud of.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
It's a game of small margins at the highest level, and so it proved to be at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon as two second-half Bath tries earned a 6-15 victory from a game which Gloucester had dominated for long periods.
Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.