Gloucester Rugby’s director of rugby David Humphreys has the bit between his teeth this term, and insists his side have what it takes to be Aviva Premiership Rugby champions.
Despite claiming the European Rugby Challenge Cup in 2014/15, Gloucester finished ninth in the league standings that year and only improved to eighth last season – which Humphreys concedes is not good enough.
The Cherry & Whites kick off the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season as they welcome Leicester Tigers to Kingsholm on Friday evening, with the game live on BT Sport.
And after a hard summer spent seeking improvements wherever possible, Humphreys is hoping they are finally on to the winning formula.
“Our ambition this year, like most teams, is to go out and win Aviva Premiership Rugby,” he said. “Different sports have shown that history doesn’t have to hold you back.
“We know we’ve been very close. I think in six of the ten Aviva Premiership games that we lost we were leading after 70 minutes.
“But that’s the nature of this league – it’s so competitive, and in any match there can be very little between the two teams so you always have to perform at your very best.
“Unfortunately for us we didn’t do that, or have that level of consistency that the very good teams have.
“But we feel like we’ve made some good improvements over the last few months after a disappointing ending to last season’s league campaign, so we’re looking forward to it.
“We’re all of the view that we’ve underachieved over the last couple of seasons in Aviva Premiership Rugby, so this is a big year for us.”
Gloucester have not gone overboard in terms of recruitment this summer, but one man Humphreys is expecting big things from is Scotland centre Matt Scott, who arrives from Edinburgh.
The Cherry & Whites’ new skipper Greig Laidlaw made the same move south of the border in 2014 to great effect, as the scrum-half was nominated for the World Player of the Year last season, and Humphreys is certain 25-year-old flyer Scott will cause him a few selection headaches.
“We saw some real quality from Matt Scott in a preseason game last weekend against Leinster,” he said. “He brings something very different to what we’ve had the last couple of years with our centres so we’ve just got to find the right combination.
“With Andy Symons coming in as well alongside Billy Twelvetrees, Mark Atkinson, and Henry Trinder, we’ve got some real depth and some real quality in that position.
“With Matt coming in the challenge is just about finding out about how he plays and who plays best with him.
“But we’re delighted with the impact he’s made and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes when the Aviva Premiership gets underway.”
Aviva Premiership Rugby returns this weekend. For a full fixture list please click here