Now the Cherry and Whites must show professionalism and character
YOU WOULD be a pretty extraordinary employee if you didn’t sometimes struggle at work. Not for nothing did they coin the phrase ‘a bad day at the office’ to describe those occasions when, for all your best efforts, nothing seems to go right.
Mistakes, oversights and accidents somehow multiply to cause a catalogue of errors. Before long, that catalogue of errors turns into a chain of disasters.
In sport, it pays to use the D-word sparingly, but that’s what it must feel like to anyone connected to Gloucester this week. In Saturday’s defeat by Sale, the Cherry and Whites seemed yet again to press the self-destruct button. The result extinguished their hopes of qualifying for the Heineken Cup next season and brought the curtain down on an unedifying week for all concerned.
They would have turned up to training on Monday with no Director of Rugby to report to and, even though the season has a fortnight to run, not much to play for. It would be entirely understandable if those definitely leaving the club – the likes of Luke Narraway, Alistair Strokosch and Scott Lawson – had already packed their bags, metaphorically, if not literally.
It would be entirely understandable if those rumoured to be on the way out – the likes of Mike Tindall and Rory Lawson – were eyeing the exit door even more intently. It would be entirely understandable if those definitely staying were not already planning their holidays.
But Kingsholm is not an office, it is a goldfish bowl. While the vast majority of the working population are in the position to run for cover when the brickbats are flying, Gloucester have to take them on the chin. While most beleaguered work-forces can afford to batten down the hatches, lie low for a while and find somewhere quiet and private to regroup, Gloucester RFC do not have that luxury.
Like it or not – and in the good times when the adulation intoxicates, the bonuses swell and the column inches multiply, they like it a lot – Gloucester are aware that they operate in the open. What they do and how they do it matters a lot, to many more people than they can sometimes imagine.
While they don’t necessarily have a duty to the fans, they have a duty to themselves. Unless they embrace that responsibility, this next fortnight is going to seem like the longest and least rewarding two weeks of their lives.
There’s nothing riding on the final Premiership match of the season – at London Irish on May 5. There‘s no head coach to impress and the management will inevitably be distracted by the search for Bryan Redpath’s replacement. There’s not even a home crowd to remind them of their heritage or to keep them honest.
But this is a golden opportunity for them to show the less ambiguous meaning of the word professionalism and a great chance to show the less frivolous interpretation of the word character.
To most people in sport a professional foul is a cynical one, while a character is either a loner or a comedian.
But a professional is someone who works hard at what he does and takes pride in the way he does it. Character is a quality that combines honesty, integrity and resilience. Now’s the time for Gloucester to show true professionalism and true character.