London Irish unhappy as Gloucester name Ackermann’s successor

Gloucester have officially confirmed that George Skivington will be taking over from the departed Johan Ackermann as the team’s new head coach.

The English Premiership side has been involved in an extensive search for someone to fill the position after Ackermann left them to take over a head coach of Japan Top League side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Skivington – who was working with London Irish as the team’s forwards coach – has previously worked with the Samoan national team.

As a player, the 37-year-old was a lock who captained the England Saxons as well as London Irish, while he also played for Wasps and the Leicester Tigers, before retiring in 2016.

‘I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Gloucester Rugby,’ Skivington said.

‘I’ve been very impressed with everyone I’ve met at the club so far, and the vision they have for the club. What I particularly liked was how far-reaching the vision is, building from the academy, through the first team, and across the whole club. I can’t wait to play my part in it.

‘I’ve had a look at the playing squad, and there are some really great players in there. It doesn’t need rebuilding, but there are obviously one or two areas that need some work. When Gloucester has been successful it’s always been built on having a formidable pack.

‘We need make sure we have a pack that has the kind of reputation that it used to have. When we do that, with the skill and pace of the backs we have at the Club, we’re going to start getting the results we want again.’

Meanwhile, it appears that London Irish are less than happy with Gloucester’s approach for Skivington as chief executive Brian Facer said that it appeared that Gloucester had broken Premiership protocols regarding the luring of coaches under contract.

‘To say we are disappointed with Gloucester’s announcement is an understatement,’ Facer said.

‘George is well liked and respected at Hazelwood, and it is understandable that we would not want to lose him, especially so close to the resumption of play after the lockdown. We also know that he is an ambitious young man who would relish the opportunity of being the Head Coach of a club someday.

‘However, the protocols are clear that a club must be approached in writing when there are more than six months remaining on the relevant contract, regardless of whether it is a player or coach.

‘George is under contract with London Irish until June 2021 and has not served us with the required notice period, nor have the terms of his contract been breached. More importantly, at no point have we received any proactive communication whatsoever from Gloucester.

‘This is a most serious issue so, accordingly, we are reserving our rights to consider all our options under the Premiership Rugby governance protocols and other avenues of redress.’

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