Having announced the signing of Fraser Balmain this morning, Gloucester have now turned their attentions to the other side of the front row with the confirmation that Val Rapava Ruskin will move down the M5 from Worcester next season.
The signing of the Tbilisi-born prop means that the Cherry and Whites have secured the services of two of the most highly rated young props currently plying their trade in the Aviva Premiership.
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) January 10, 2017
Rapava Ruskin arrived in the UK when he was two years old. He grew up in London and began his rugby odyssey with Blackheath before joining Western Province’s U19 squad.
He was capped by Georgia U19s and then had stints with Saracens and Toulon before moving to Sixways ahead of the 2014-15 season, playing a big part in their promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.
Renowned for his powerful scrummaging, he started out initially as a back row forward, but switched to the front row whilst in South Africa and hasn’t looked back. However, he still has the turnover instincts of a back-rower and won four turnovers in a game earlier this season.
Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted to the club website that Rapava Ruskin’s signing is a big statement of intent for Gloucester.
“To build a successful team at the highest level a strong set-piece is crucial and, with Val joining us next season, we believe we’ve signed one of the most dominant young front row forwards in the game. Together with the signing of Fraser Balmain, we have recruited two players who we believe will give us really competitive options across the front row over the next few seasons.
“Throughout our discussions, Val has made no secret of his desire to play international rugby for England but knows that success in a Gloucester shirt is the key to achieving his ambition.
“We’ve already experienced first-hand in games this season against Worcester what a handful Val can be in both the set-piece and general play, and I’m delighted we’re adding another quality player to the Gloucester squad for next season.”
Meanwhile, Rapava Ruskin is hoping to become the latest in a long line of celebrated front row forwards to play at Kingsholm in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
“It’s a huge honour and opportunity for me to sign for Gloucester Rugby. I know what a tradition the club has of producing strong forward packs and I’m looking forward to being part of an exciting group.
“I’m determined to work hard and help Gloucester to achieve their goal of winning titles again, whilst hopefully achieving my goals of playing international rugby.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Worcester and appreciate everything the club has done for me. I wish them all the best for the future and will give my all until the end of the season.”