Head Coach Susie Appleby admitted today that she was ‘over the moon’ at the news that Gloucester-Hartpury Women will participate in Women’s Super Rugby next season, but knows that the hard work starts here.
The former England international, a legend of the Women’s game, is currently in her third season as Head Coach of the team and, speaking to the Gloucester Rugby website today, was delighted at the news.
“We’re absolutely over the moon. Obviously we’ve been building towards this, but we didn’t anticipate that we’d have the opportunity to play in the Premiership so quickly.
“We’ve been building the squad, building the side, establishing the infrastructure for a few years now. We were aiming for the Championship initially, but to then have the opportunity to step straight into the top tier is just a massive bonus.
“I’d like to thank both Gloucester and Hartpury for their support in getting us to where we are today and helping us meet the minimum standards required to play in Women’s Super Rugby.”
The team has been making steady progress since its formation ahead of the 2014-15 season, but today’s announcement marks a whole new chapter in Gloucester-Hartpury’s history.
“It’s a new beginning for us in a way. We’ve got players who have been doing really for us, but this will make us really push ourselves to reach the next level to get to where we need to be to take on the teams in the top flight of the Women’s game, which is probably the top domestic club league in the world at the moment. We’re just really excited to be part of that.”
And, with Gloucester-Hartpury set for their first appearance of the season at Kingsholm on Saturday when they take on Worcester Ladies IIs after the conclusion of the Gloucester vs Harlequins game, Appleby says today’s news is real motivation.
“It’s a huge boost for the team ahead of the game at Kingsholm at Saturday. It’s slightly ironic that ourselves and Worcester are in the same situation and we’re playing each other at the weekend.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase the Women’s game in the best place we can, at Kingsholm in front of a passionate Gloucester crowd. It’s a massive week for the club, we’re incredibly excited.”
But the Head Coach isn’t looking too far ahead, preferring to focus on the immediate task in hand.
“First and foremost, we’ll focus on finishing this season as strongly as possible to try and ensure that we top the league. We’re also in the semi-finals of the Intermediate cup which is fantastic, and play that a week on Sunday with a chance to make a cup final and show where we’re at.
“Then we’ll probably need a little bit of time out and just prepare for a big, big preseason because we know where we need to get to. We’ve got everything in place but this is just the start of the hard work.
“We know we need to step up but it’s such positive news. It’s where we want to be, where we need to be, in the best competition.
“We now need to focus on getting the players to the best place they can possibly be to represent not only Gloucester-Hartpury but also, going forward England. That’s our role, to develop players to the point where they can put on the England shirt when their time comes.
“We’ve got players coming into the University programme, by the end of the season we’ll be in the BUCS Prem, so the whole pathway we’ve set up at Hartpury is the best it can be to facilitate those players who want to play for their country.”