Keith Richardson column: Forget the adversity, just get on with it
WHY do Gloucester need adversity to come to life?
It seems the Cherry and Whites need some kind of big problem to slap them in the face at the moment, before they start firing.
The minute Nick Wood was red-carded at Saracens the game was up.
But then Gloucester sprung up, and suddenly responded with the kind of vigour and intent than had been totally absent against Sale Sharks.
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So, again, why?
This problem is not new, and not even specific to the Nigel Davies reign at Kingsholm.
There has been a lingering suspicion for a couple of seasons that we play well against the very best yet languish against the not-so-good.
If any team in this highly-competitive Premiership really wants success, they have to put away the 'minnows' when they come calling.
There is really little point in excelling against the killer whales if the small fry is not consumed.
That mindset must be of prime concern to the coaches, because we all know that the team will give absolutely everything against Northampton.
The visitors tomorrow have identified, defined and bought what is required at this level and they will have an uncompromising pack with a front-five that keeps on coming at you.
There is nothing very saintly about them, whatever their title, and the home team will have to be prepared to put everything on the line just to get parity. Anything less than a total commitment will leave the Kingsholm pitch to the visiting invaders.
Wood's eight-week punishment reflects his error, and the video proof Gloucester provided that there was no malice in his action, of stamping on Jacques Burger's head.
Disciplinary panels across the game tend to issue differing punishments between the top-level professional game, and the grassroots action.
I would argue it is time to lend even higher standards to the pro game, to set the greatest possible standards to filter right through the sport.
Of course there are two games, but should not a professional be expected to manage himself better than a mere local player?
Wood for his part will spend the next eight weeks locked in training, without the full enjoyment of matches. That's the punishment effectively.
The very word 'professional' surely does not mean simply getting paid.
Putting the Wood situation aside, there have been many blatant examples of international players receiving a ban that ended the day before the next important game.
The authorities expect us all to believe it just happens without any thought for diary dates.
The professional game will always push more and more to take as much control of every area of the sport as possible.
But the authorities must rail against this at almost every turn.