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, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.