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."
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.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
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).