Scrum Down: Bond will ensure All Blue ideals will last a lifetime
CREATE something special off the pitch and you will reap the rewards on it.
Two years ago Gloucester All Blues were languishing in the bottom step of the county rugby pyramid – Division Three.
Fast forward a couple of seasons and the club are booming and on their way to returning to the heydays of the 1970s and 80s.
When head coach Matt Teague took over in 2010 they barely had 20 players to call upon.
NEW PROMOTIONS put out each calender month! Dont miss out!
Terms: Terms and conditions are when order is complete in full 5% discount will be given with this voucher!
Contact: 01452 223149
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
That number has trebled, and players who once wore the colours of their county are being drawn in.
Teague puts it down to the tight-knit bond the club and its players have worked hard to create.
One of their methods is a monthly food night when the whole squad go out for dinner together to get to know each other better.
The result: Teague says he has never seen a closer bunch of players in all his years of playing local rugby.
"We were in the lower regions and it was hard work to get the boys to training and play," he said.
"A lot of them have young families and the whole mentality in terms of training has changed.
"There are so many distractions and if they can't be bothered then they can't be bothered, but we have a very tight-knit group.
"We go on food socials together once a month, where about 20 or 30 of us will go out for food after training.
"They are a really good bunch of boys that stick together and that is what has attracted the likes of Ryan Best and Martin Knight.
"The boys get looked after and are also well coached and they enjoy it.
"The guys are such a close-knit group, there are no cliques. At other clubs you would probably find pockets of players that socialised together.
"At the Blues nobody is above anybody else and everybody is treated the same, and the togetherness and feeling of being part of a team for the guys is massive.
"People come down and instantly enjoy it and they stay, and it is more the enjoyment factor as well as the bettering themselves.
"The players have created their own environment they can be proud of and that they want to be part of."
With the present looking strong for the club, attentions have now been turned to the future with the possibility of setting up a youth section.
That will provide more players for the club in the next ten to 15 years, and Teague says the help is available to guarantee success.
"Ashley Stephens, the RFU Community Rugby Coach, has liaised with four primary schools we will be targeting to go out and do some coaching with," added Teague.
"I want to set up a youth section at the Blues and these people are there to help.
"Ashley has gone out there and done the initial liaising.
"As long as you have plans and commitment to back it up and are willing to put the work in then they are there to be used.
"For us it is another stepping stone in the right direction.
"Now we have the senior player base sorted the next step is we have to turn to youth to provide players for the future."
TEAGUE: NEXT GENERATION TAKING LEAD
THE most famous graduate of the Gloucester All Blues, Mike Teague, says the club are helping spearhead a revival of local rugby.
A teenage Teague played for a season at the Blues before joining the ranks of his hometown club Gloucester and progressing through the England and British and Irish Lions set-up.
The club gained promotion to Gloucester Two two years ago and began this year's campaign strongly with a 56-7 win over Bredon Star last Saturday.
With nephew Matt at the Castlemeads Way helm, Teague says the club is returning to the good old days when local sides were booming in Gloucestershire.
"The Blues have been a major success story but that is down to the way Matt and the president and chairman Rob Hart, who I used to play with, have conducted themselves," said Teague.
"We live in different times but there is more of a return now to people wanting to go to their local club, play their rugby, socialise and enjoy it so it is going back to the old-school values.
"It is just good to see there is more of a return of local players wanting to play local-level club rugby and enjoy their rugby and play locally rather than going far afield.
"At the grass roots you want to improve rugby, but in this day and age is it really a good idea to travel all the way down to Cornwall when local rugby is suffering?"
With rugby making plenty of progress on the field as players get stronger and faster, so have the ways in which clubs pull people towards them.
In Teague's era there were plenty of family and geographical rivalries which enticed players to take up the game to get one over a friend, work-mate or relative on a Saturday afternoon.
Teague's uncle Colin was a Spartans man whereas his older brother Gary was with the All Blues, with former number eight Mike playing a season at Sebert Street first. But, with a host of local clubs struggling for numbers in recent times, Teague says methods have to be adapted to bring in fresh ideas to keep the sport alive.
"In the old days, you probably had the most senior guy at the club becoming the coach whereas these days you have young guys in charge," he added.
"Matt is still in his 20s and is the coach, which is better because they are more in touch with the modern game.
"They are up to speed with things and have far better ideas and understand the modern game because it has moved on so much.
"It is the same with the referees. There are far younger refs now and you probably need them to keep up with the pace of the game!
"Matt is his own man and the younger guys are far more mature about the game now than they get credit for."