Mike Tindall: Let's show rugby is not just a money game
HOMESPUN Gloucester must fight to prove there can still be more to rugby than money.
That's the rallying cry from player/backs coach Mike Tindall, as the Cherry and Whites gear up for a return to Heineken Cup action this term.
Cash-rich French clubs are starting to dominate the European scene, their spending power eclipsing their continental rivals.
The Irish provinces still benefit from less demanding domestic competition scheduling to keep their frontline stars fresh for the most brutal Heineken Cup battles.
Traditional Shave, Facial Treatment, Whisky and a Shoe Shine -...View details
Gents, enjoy a traditional shave, facial treatment, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £31
Terms: Early and later appointments available upon request.
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
But Premiership clubs must fight a war of attrition on two fronts with little respite in order to claim European success.
Gloucester felt the full force of the French gold standard in Toulon on Friday, August 9, brushed aside 42-17 by the reigning Heineken Cup champions.
The Stade Mayol club number among a nucleus of potent French outfits starting to believe it is easier to lift the Heineken Cup than the Top 14 title.
That view neatly underlines the Gallic domination of the European scene.
And it is also one that frustrates World Cup-winner Tindall.
The 34-year-old centre has challenged the Cherry and Whites to use French clubs' aristocratic status as motivation for the campaign ahead.
Otley-born Tindall believes Gloucester must be buoyed up to show money is not the only thing that makes the rugby world go round.
The former Bath midfielder knows what a tall order that is though, admitting only at their very best can Nigel Davies' men compete with Europe's elite.
Gloucester will continue their pre-season preparations by taking on Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).
The Cherry and Whites will face the decorated Irish province twice more this term in Pool Six of the Heineken Cup.
Unfazed by the humbling in Toulon, Tindall remains confident the Kingsholm men will acquit themselves well in Europe this season.
Tindall explained: "On our day we can beat anyone, but you've always got to look at salary caps and depth in squads.
"Our first team is very strong, but then teams like Toulon obviously have far more depth.
"That's no criticism, that's the way it is and we've just got to compete against that.
"On our day though, we've still got the ability to beat anyone.
"And the challenge is to make sure we're on our day far more often than not.
"Doing it week-in, week-out, that's what we've got to work on.
"That's why this pre-season has been a lot more mentally testing, because we've got to work on that mindset side and our steel there.
"We've got to use the gulf in squad budgets between England and France as motivation.
"We've got to try to prove a point and show that money isn't everything.
"What a challenge that is, but it's one that I'm sure everyone at Gloucester would absolutely love to pull off.
"I'd really like to think rugby can still be about more than money in the long-run.
"Maybe clubs like Gloucester can play their part in that, especially if we can be successful but also with a prudent financial approach to safeguard the future of the club too."
Tindall worries increasing investment in squad size and wage bills across The Channel threatens to change rugby's face forever.
Proud of Gloucester's commitment to producing homegrown talent, Tindall remains confident the Cherry and Whites can still build competitive squads without breaking the bank.
Senior academy new recruit Reece Boughton made his debut out in Toulon, the 18-year-old scrum-half going up against seasoned Springbok Michael Claassens.
Tindall believes the Kingsholm production line is the kind of talent mainstay every club should aim to build.
And he has baked the Cherry and Whites to continue churning out future stars of the highest calibre.
He continued: "Reece is a great example – Gloucester might not have five Bryan Habanas, but the club is excellent at developing future stars.
"If you have an increasing amount of world talent, perhaps local youngsters do not have the opportunities soon enough.
"So many of the integral players in our squad are local lads, that's what makes Gloucester special, and that's what we want to hang on to."