Gloucester Rugby held their annual Open Day for the first time at Gloucester Docks on Bank Holiday Monday and were rewarded by an estimated 4,500 people coming to meet their heroes.
The full Gloucester Rugby squad were in attendance from just after 2pm onwards, arriving in three groups after they finished their training preparations for this weekend's vital Guinness Premiership opener against Bath (Sunday Sep 6th, kick off 3:30pm).
It's fair to say that the first 10 players who arrived were duly mobbed but those fans who waited patiently benefitted from seeing the whole squad arrive in due course.
The players and coaches were happy to sign posters which featured the 2009-10 team photo and pose for pictures.
There were numerous giveaways. Main sponsor Jewson estimated that they handed out 2,500 pens, pads and pencils, 500 woolly hats, 500 caps, 1000 water bottles and 3000 T shirts! Many of these items were signed and tranformed from freebie into cherished momento of a great day.
The Gloucester Rugby Community department set up their own bungee run for the kids to try out and there were a number of other challenges courtesy of the RFU Roadshow notably goalkicking, tackling bags and a lineout simulator.
Gloucester Rugby's Community Manager Gary Little felt that the day had been a great success and justified the decision to hold the event at the Docks.
"Last year, we suffered the disappointment of seeing the event, which was due to have been staged at Kingsholm, rained off. So, moving the event to the Docks has proved to be a great success in that respect."
"Seeing so many people here enjoying themselves and meeting the players and coaches is reward in itself and I'd like to thank everyone who played a part in staging the event."
For those who enquired about a behind the scenes tour of Kingsholm which has featured in previous events held at the stadium, there is the opportunity to do so this coming Friday.
Please email the Gloucester Rugby Community department for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).