Thunderbolts and subplots - The LV=Cup is good for Gloucester Rugby
A THUNDERBOLT field-length try brought the jury all the way in on Ian Clark.
The whippet Gloucester wing raced the length on his full debut at the Madejski Stadium last year, stupefying the London Irish defence.
Until his first try in that LV=Cup clash, the more muscular Irishmen had strong-armed him out of the contest.
Until his first try in that LV=Cup clash, the Gloucester coaching staff had wondered whether Clark could cut it at the highest level.
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Small in stature but absolutely rapid, the Gloucester Academy wing had been running in tries for fun with Hartpury RFC.
He plundered two tries in Gloucester’s 23-15 London Irish defeat on February 4 – and that was the day he announced his Cherry and Whites arrival.
The 20-year-old Bristol-born flyer is still in the fight to realise his full potential, and this weekend he will probably have another chance to continue that battle.
Anyone who still doubts the importance of the LV=Cup should have a quick chat to youngsters like Clark.
This competition is the ideal breeding ground for young talent – ideal for a club like Gloucester, so keen on accelerating the development of the stars of tomorrow.
Jonny May, Freddie Burns and plenty more besides have introduced themselves through the LV=Cup avenue.
And while most top-flight clubs covet Premiership titles, top-four or top-six finishes, or even tilts at European glory, all appreciate the role this Anglo-Welsh contest has to play.
If Clark is once again in line to show his raw speed when Gloucester open their LV=Cup run at the Ospreys on Friday night, then the likes of Elliott Stooke and Will Graulich will be in the frame too.
The Academy second row pairing have teamed up for every one of Gloucester United’s A League fixtures so far.
Stooke is just 19 and Graulich only 20, but both have offered physicality and maturity beyond their years when called upon thus far.
Clearly neither lock will be an overnight Premiership success – there is plenty of work and development ahead.
But these are the games to kick-start that progress through the one commodity training or conditioning cannot provide – experience.
The potential appearance of another talented youngster could add intrigue in Swansea this weekend.
Nigel Davies’ son Sam might just turn out for the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium.
England versus Wales, father versus son: and defence coach Paul Moriarty back on his old Swansea stomping ground.
The Gloucester boss swings his cherry and white chariot back into the land of his fathers.
Maybe for the first time in his life he will be hoping not to hear too many Hymns and Arias.
The LV=Cup lacking bite? Not with these subplots.