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."
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.