THE FIRST batch of steel that will mean Gloucester's new South Stand will start taking shape was maneuvered into place today.
By Friday, three cranes will be on site at Kingsholm to lift the uprights into position that will create the first section of the new Grandstand.
In the next two days, 75 tonnes of steel will be delivered and that will be followed by another 75 tones the following week. Once it is all in place the new development will be clearly visible.
The new South Stand will take Kingsholm's capacity from 12,500 to 16,000 and will be ready for the start of next season.
It is now possible to see the outline of the stand taking shape on a ground floor level and Gloucester's operations manager Sean Roberts said: "When you walk through the site now it is possible to picture lift shafts, the reception area and a clear outline of the stand.
"This is a significant step because the work now effectively moves from a demolition site to a construction site. In two months, the old Grandstand has been demolished and new development is now well underway which is great for everyone involved."
Gloucester's managing director Ken Nottage is delighted with the speed of the work and added: "We are conscious of not getting too far ahead of ourselves at this stage of the development but this is obviously a major advance in the build and to see the steel go in is a great step forward.
"The look of the site changes by the day, a tremendous amount of work has already been accomplished and I think it is fantastic for everyone associated with the club to see it take shape.
"These are tremendously exciting times for the club - the season tickets are now available and going well, the player recruitment has really captured the imagination and the South Stand development plays a key part in the progress."
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).