DEAN RYAN hailed Gloucester's Middlesex Sevens experience as a valuable success after his experimental squad lost to eventual winners Newcastle in the semi-finals.
The Kingsholm club suffered 26-5 defeat to the Falcons who then went on to beat Worcester in Twickenham's traditional curtain raiser to the season on Saturday.
Ryan's squad contained a mixture of quality sevens players - skippered by Luke Narraway and including James Bailey and Mark Foster - and was complimented by the likes of rookies Dan Norton, Pete Swatkins and Dave Lewis.
"Sevens can be any success you want it to be if you really understand and appreciate what you want to get out of it," Head coach Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"If we truly wanted to win the competition we may have selected a different squad but that wasn't our aim - any success we had was going to built around the development of the squad.
"We were obviously disappointed not to make the final having got so close but great credit must go to a number of young players who stepped up from the Academy set-up and a couple who are still at school. As a learning experience it was fantastic for them and guys like Dan Norton did fantastically well.
"We then had players like Luke Narraway, Mark Foster and James Bailey who were in the unfamiliar role as leaders - we wanted to see how they reacted as players and individuals to the extra responsibility because for us that is important in terms of squad development.
"To me, that is what makes the competition a success - it is about growing these players and providing them an opportunity to develop key skills we hope they can take into 15s.
"I was pleased with the way the squad worked together. They were given an opportunity and responded really well to the challenges."
Henry Purdy, a first half replacement for Charlie Sharples, was amongst the try scorers in the 64-19 victory over Aviron Bayonnais on Saturday evening and told GRTV that it was a professional performance, one the team are happy with.
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Following the conclusion of the Stade Francais vs Harlequins game today, round six is complete and the quarter-finalists in the European Rugby Challenge Cup are now known with Gloucester set to welcome the Cardiff Blues to Kingsholm.
Knowing a bonus point win would secure a home quarter-final, Gloucester completed their European mission in some style on Saturday evening, sweeping aside a spirited but outgunned Aviron Bayonnais scoring 10 tries on their way to a 64-19 victory.