MEMBERS of Gloucester's first team squad delivered a little Christmas spirit to local children last week when they visited the Battledown Children's Ward at Cheltenham General Hospital to deliver presents to patients.
Organised by Duncan McRae, the Gloucester stand-off, a number of the Kingsholm stars took time out to deliver a sack-load of goodwill to children who will be in hospital over the festive period.
McRae organised a donation from every player in the Gloucester squad and management team and went on a spending spree at Toys 'R' Us.
The result was a huge number of gifts for local children and McRae told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I had seen in the past that football teams often pay a visit to hospitals at Christmas and I just thought it was a great opportunity for us to put something back into the community.
"Some of these kids put a lot of effort into supporting us and I wanted the club to put a little bit back when they are not very fortunate.
"When you see and hear that some of the children will be in hospital over Christmas, it puts everything else in your life into perspective and to pay a visit and drop off some presents was the least we could do."
McRae was joined by team-mates Olly Morgan, James Parkes, Jon Goodridge, Rob Thirlby and Brad Davies for an hour or so last week.
Claire Hunt, who is the ward manager on Battledown, said: "We certainly had some very excited children during the visit and we would like to thank Gloucester Rugby and the players very much for their generosity. It really was fantastic to see them."
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.