Legendary British and Irish Lions Head Coach Ian McGeechan was a recent visitor to Kingsholm as he held a book signing and Q&A to promote his autobiography "Lion Man." Whilst in Gloucester, he took time out to talk to the club website.
Capped 32 times by Scotland and a British Lions tourist in 1974 and 1977, a former coach of Scotland, Northampton and London Wasps and, of course, famed for his coaching roles with the British Lions in 1989, 1993, 1997, 2005 and 2009, Geechs needs no introduction.
Sitting in the comfort of one of the corporate boxes in the South Stand at Kingsholm, McGeechan obviously has fond memories of the Gloucester ground.
"A tough place to play but actually very happy memories as a player. We used to come down here on Easter tour and play Gloucester and then Coventry when I was playing for Headingley."
"The first time I ever played here, we actually won which was apparently quite surprising back then. I was only about 19 and I didn't realise until I came down here just how big it was."
"It was a full house and we got changed over on the other side and came down the steps. I was used to playing in front of a few hundred and was suddenly exposed to a full Kingsholm."
"Gloucester were great actually although they wouldn't travel north to play us at Headingley so we could only play them every couple of years!"
With Australia set to play Gloucester in a couple of weeks (November 3rd, kick off 7:45pm), he was reminded that the 1989 Lions tour of Australia was a ground breaker in a way.
"It was the first of the short tours and strangely we finished the Test series and then still had two games to play."
"Originally, of course, it had been a case of playing one or two Tests against Australia on your way to New Zealand. They just didn't have their own tour."
"So 1989 was the first time that they'd got recognised I suppose as being really one of the top eight countries."
"It was good. Australia have benefitted from the experience I think. Their game has developed as a consequence, the provinces have got stronger and of course the Tri Nations has helped as well."
"I think over the past 20 years you'd have to say that Australia are the side who have progressed most."
"It's interesting now that the Lions have been the only team that play midweek or even go on tours but it's noticeable now that the South Africans are taking midweek games as are the Australians and I think New Zealand are as well."
"I think they all want to get back to this sort mini six to ten game tour which had gone out of the window because, as I say, the Lions were the only side touring in that way."
"I think it's great that the midweek games are coming back. For Gloucester to be able to meet Australia here at Kingsholm is fantastic. Australia have a lot of young players at the moment, they're very skilful, they always have been. It'll be a great experience to play agains them."
Australia have been talking about their forthcoming tour in terms of a possible Grand Slam but McGeechan thinks it'll be a tall order.
"It's difficult. I think England finished the Six Nations strongly, Wales are in good shape and playing well. And, Ireland have a really good batch of young players as I found out on the Lions tour."
"There's a lot of talent around at the moment and even my old country Scotland, under Andy Robinson, are capable of stepping up to the mark."
"The talent is there, they've some good player but they lack a little experience and it's a steep learning curve but I think they're in good hands with Andy."
"I think they (Australia) might just find it a little bit more difficult than they're expecting as there are some good players around."
In the middle of a national tour to promote his autobiography, McGeechan was asked if he misses the tracksuit and training ground.
"I always miss it a little bit. I suppose it's the schoolmaster in me. I like the hands on although this is the first break I've had as a coach for 29 years. Add my playing career on and you've got another 15 years."
"So, I'm seeing this as a bit of a sabbatical at the moment and I'm drawing breath a bit. I've had an invite to go to South Africa to go out there and look at some of the Super 14."
"I think it's it's important that you keep on learning and that you get some insights into what's happening in the game."
"So, I do see it as a sabbatical but I have to admit that I am enjoying the break."
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