Jimmy Cowan: World Cup will be a 'Holm from home for Gloucester
CULT heroes old and new will be heralded and treasured by the knowledgeable Kingsholm crowd in Rugby World Cup 2015, believes All Black Jimmy Cowan.
The Kiwi scrum-half knows all about the atmosphere of a home World Cup, after helping New Zealand lift the William Webb Ellis trophy in 2011.
The 31-year-old loved seeing his home province Southland's fans get behind visiting national sides in the Kiwi World Cup two years ago.
Supporters would champion favourite players from Romania and Scotland, turning up to matches in their adopted country's colours to boot.
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And 51-cap Cowan believes the Kingsholm faithful will do exactly the same in Gloucester in two years' time.
He explained: "It's got a lot of benefits, for the town, and for the club.
"In New Zealand my province Southland adopted teams and really got behind them, like Scotland and Romania.
"And the supporters really got in behind that.
"It was a real party atmosphere for the fans and that was fantastic.
"I can see things being pretty similar here at Gloucester.
"I can see them getting right behind the teams who come here, and it will be great fun for the people of Gloucester."
While the Cherry and Whites fans might champion individuals from visiting countries, Cowan said they will definitely get behind their own.
Tonga, Scotland and Argentina are lined up for three of the four World Cup clashes at Kingsholm.
That should see Gloucester favourites Sione Kalamafoni and Lua Lokotui represent their national side on their club ground.
And it sets up a Kingsholm return for totemic Gloucester captain Jim Hamilton, who will join French side Montpellier this summer after three years with the Cherry and Whites.
Cowan reckons the Gloucester fans will love watching players they know well at Kingsholm in an entirely different guise.
He continued: "It's international rugby, so it opens up a lot of avenues.
"It would be great to see Jim Hamilton come back, and our Tongan boys get stuck in.
"But there will be less well-known guys who will make an impression, and the local crowd will take to their hearts as almost immediate cult heroes.
"That's one of the most enjoyable parts of it all."
Rugby-obsessed New Zealand won the inaugural World Cup in 1987, but then proceeded to blow several excellent chances to land the trophy again.
The Kiwi public were left outraged after their side's failure in 2007 – and demanded nothing but the title on home soil four years on.
A nation held its breath, while the All Blacks themselves chewed fingernails to the quick.
Former Otago Highlander Cowan said edging out France in the final to claim the silverware lifted a weight off an entire country.
He added: "One word for what it brings: relief.
"It was 20-odd years since we had won it, and the relief was huge.
"To land it in our home nation, there was huge expectation that we had to win it.
"We certainly did it the hard way, with the injuries and the scoreline in the final.
"But looking back now it's still a feeling of relief.
"It will be great to tell my kids a few stories when I get older.
"And you never ever forget big moments like that."