Hartpury RFC can confirm that they will play a Gloucester Rugby XV, at Kingsholm, on Friday 25th August – Kick off 5.30pm.
Gloucester were originally scheduled to play Yorkshire Carnegie as the first part of a double-header also involving a game with Scarlets of Wales but, as the Leeds side have had to withdraw from the occasion, Hartpury RFC are happy to step in.
Particularly so, as the fixture will comprise a part of the testimonial season for former Hartpury student and Gloucester legend, Charlie Sharples.
Hartpury were originally scheduled to play Pontypridd on Saturday 26th August, but a change in the Welsh Premiership fixtures put paid to that plan. The match therefore represents a valuable opportunity for more pre-season preparation ahead of our opening Championship clash with Bristol Rugby (Sunday, 3rd September at Ashton Gate).
The links between Gloucester and Hartpury are already strong. The Cherry and Whites’ training base is located at Hartpury College, and numerous Hartpury students have gone on to represent Gloucester over the past few seasons.
It promises to be a fascinating encounter with Hartpury taking on Aviva Premiership opposition for the second time this summer, having already travelled to Sixways to play Worcester Warriors.
Speaking from the Gloucester Rugby’s training camp in Portugal, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester’s neighbours will provide intriguing opposition on the night.
“It’s a shame that Yorkshire Carnegie can’t fulfil the fixture, but I’m actually really excited about the fact that Hartpury are stepping in and very grateful to them for doing so.
“It’ll be a fixture with real local interest. We see a lot of their players and staff every day at the training ground and a lot of players have run out for both teams in the past. In a funny sort of way, it’s our closest local derby nowadays.
“It’s going to be a fascinating game, and the only downside I can see is that I’m going to have to put up with some terrible chat from Pasty (Hartpury Head Coach and former Gloucester player Mark Cornwell) for the next week or so!”
And Cornwell himself admitted that it’s going to be strange to send out a team to face the club where he spent many years as a player and coach.
“It will be a bit odd. I suppose it was always going to be possible that I’d find myself on the opposing side to Gloucester at some point, but I didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly! But it will be great to be involved in a game at Kingsholm again.
“We were delighted to step in when Charlie’s committee approached us to see if we could take Yorkshire’s place on the night, and it’ll actually be more really valuable preparation for us.
“We learned a lot about ourselves from last weekend’s trip to Worcester, and a tough game against Gloucester will allow us to make some changes and see how far we’ve come. We should both have good support and I’m looking forward to it.”