Streetwise Sharks blow Gloucester away in European Challenge Cup final

Sharks with the trophy
Durban-based Sharks dominated Gloucester and ran out easy winners in north London - Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Gloucester 22 Sharks 36

Fierce defence, scrummaging dominance, kicking accuracy and the odd touch of magic; South African teams have a trusty formula for big games. Now they have a first taste of ‘European’ silverware, too, after Gloucester succumbed to a streetwise clinic from the Sharks – starring two thirds of the Springboks Bomb Squad that defied England last year – in this one-sided Challenge Cup final.

Ox Nche and Vincent Koch, propping either shoulder of Bongi Mbonambi, milked set-piece penalties out of Gloucester to complement a sublime try from Phepsi Buthelezi. All of that built a 13-point half-time lead that the Sharks, captained by the imperious Eben Etzebeth, were unlikely to relinquish.

Indeed, John Plumtree’s charges turned the screw in the second period. Siya Masuku accumulated 21 points and James Venter, the relentless flanker, registered almost as many tackles. “The plan was to apply pressure to the Gloucester pack,” explained Plumtree afterwards. “We thought that was their strength.”

Chasing a second trophy of the season, having landed the Premiership Cup two months ago, George Skivington’s side were out to vindicate the subsequent decision to prioritise this competition over league commitments. Infamously, that had brought about a 90-0 drubbing in Northampton. Would a double dispatch the humiliation of such an afternoon? That was the hope, which only really glimmered for 15 minutes.

“I don’t think anyone threw the towel in, but we were blown away for most of that game,” admitted Skivington, who cited a failure to capitalise on early impetus. “We made some bold decisions to try and go hard at this tournament. Not to win it is gutting.”

Gloucester’s form in the Challenge Cup had been decidedly more assured than their Premiership efforts. Similarly, despite a sparkling roster littered with World Cup winners, Sharks have endured a grim United Rugby Championship campaign comprising 13 losses from 17 matches to date. Etzebeth later revealed a motivation to put a “silver lining” on this term.

The atmosphere was predictably partisan. It took less than 10 seconds for familiar chants of ‘Gloucester, Gloucester’ to swell and Sharks’ indiscipline characterised the opening exchanges. Aphelele Fassi chased his own kick and tackled an airborne Zach Mercer before Makazole Mapimpi caught Santiago Carreras on the jaw.

A maul offence made it three penalties in as many minutes and, though Sharks muscled an attempted shove into touch, Gloucester maintained pressure. Caolan Englefield sniped, Ollie Thorley trucked to within five metres and Fassi was sent to the sin bin for creeping offside. Finally, on the back of a fifth penalty, Chris Harris stretched out towards the line. Etzebeth, however, slid in and forced the ball loose. Nche earned a scrum penalty and Sharks escaped.

Spearheaded by a fearful front row of Nche, Mbonambi and Koch, with the considerable Etzebeh in the engine room, Sharks worked a second set-piece infringement against the put-in. Whereas Gloucester had sent penalties to touch, Sharks went for goal and Masuku split the uprights. A long-range attempt from Carreras faded wide but Englefield, the scrum-half who represented England A in February, levelled it up with a fine strike from even further out. That would only spark the Sharks, though.

Koch dented the Gloucester midfield and offloaded to Buthelezi, who slipped three tackles and accelerated into space, selling a wicked dummy to score. Masuku converted and added his second penalty as the Sharks squeezed, with Koch plucking a loose ball before striking a sweet 50:22. Just over half an hour in, Gloucester’s scrum was creaking badly and leaking penalties. When Masuku made it 16-3, Mathieu Raynal ominously told Lewis Ludlow to “find a solution”.

To his credit, Skivington endeavoured to do just that as quickly as possible, replacing his starting front row. Mayco Vivas, Santiago Socino and Kirill Gotovtsev promptly splintered the Sharks. A promising position was squandered, though, when Grant Williams intercepted Mercer. Masuku slotted two further penalties before dinking a shallow chip over the defensive line for Fassi to recover.

Etzebeth flipped an offload towards the Sharks left and Mapimpi scuttled down the touchline. When the ball was moved back towards centre-field, Fassi scythed over easily. Gloucester responded with Albert Tuisue’s pushover, but the next episode of the Masuku show arrived on the hour-mark when Carreras fumbled a high ball, the Sharks fly-half spearing a kick-pass to an unmarked Mapimpi.

With 10 minutes remaining, Nche, Mbonambi and Koch were all taken off. Trevor Nyakane, another World Cup champion who had made the trip from Paris, where he is playing for Racing 92, hollered “Bomb Squad” in recognition of his compatriots.

Adam Hastings and Jonny May, two Gloucester leavers, combined for a Stephen Varney try that was disallowed, encapsulating a hapless night. Skivington’s men did reward their faithful fans with two pieces of futile brilliance. A flurry of offloads led to a finish for Socino and then Thorley broke to set up Freddie Clarke. Still, Sharks prevailed to make the Champions Cup for 2024-25, keeping Leicester Tigers as the Premiership’s eighth qualifier.

Late scores could not gloss over Gloucester’s inferiority. The same was true of their cup success amid a tough season. Work is required over the summer, as Skivington already knew.

Match details:

Gloucester: S Carreras; J May (J Hathaway, 75), C Harris, S Atkinson (M Llewellyn, 56), O Thorley; A Hastings, C Englefield (S Varney, 56); J Ford-Robinson (M Vivas, h-t), S Blake (S Socino, h-t), F Balmain (K Gotovtsev, h-t), F Clarke, A Clark (A Tuisue, 56), R Ackermann (J Clement, 65), L Ludlow, Z Mercer.

Sharks: A Fassi (C Bosch, 76), W Kok, E Hooker, F Venter, M Mapimpi; S Masuku, G Williams (C Wright, 73); O Nche (N Mchunu, 70), B Mbonambi (F Mbatha, 70), V Koch (H Jacobs, 70), E Etzebeth, G Grobler (L Labuschagne, 75), J Venter (D Richardson, 75), V Tshituka, P Buthelezi. Replacement not used: E Keyter. Yellow card: Fassi 7

Scoring: 0-3 Masuku penalty, 3-3 Englefield penalty, 3-8 Buthelezi try, 3-10 Masuku conversion, 3-13 Masuku penalty, 3-16 Masuku penalty, 3-19 Masuku penalty, 3-22 Masuku penalty, 3-27 Fassi try, 3-29 Masuku conversion, 8-29 Tuisue try, 10-29 Hastings conversion, 10-34 Mapimpi try, 10-36 Masuku conversion, 15-36 Socino try, 17-36 Hastings conversion, 22-36 Clarke try.

Referee: M Raynal

Attendance: 34,761

Sharks thrash Gloucester – as it happened

10:21 PM BST

Joyous scenes for the men from Durban

Sharks players celebrate with the trophy
The Sharks players will enjoy themselves in London tonight! - Adam Davy/PA

10:17 PM BST

Sharks celebrate

You can imagine that the Sharks fans back in Durban will be celebrating long into the night as will those in north London tonight.

The Sharks lift the Challenge Cup trophy
Celebration time for the Sharks - Mike Egerton/PA
The Sharks lift the Challenge Cup trophy
The celebrations will be going off in Durban tonight - Dan Mullan/Getty Images

10:08 PM BST

2024 Challenge Cup winners are...The Sharks

10:07 PM BST

Man of the match Vincent Koch speaking to TNT

10:04 PM BST

Sad ending for May

Jonny May’s Gloucester career has ended tonight and not in the way he would have liked.

Jonny May looks on gutted after defeat
Jonny May looks on gutted after defeat in his final Gloucester game - Mike Egerton/PA

10:03 PM BST

Sharks celebrate

The Sharks players celebrate at full-time
The Sharks become the first South African side to win a European trophy - David Rogers/Getty Images
The Sharks players celebrate their victory tonight in the Challenge Cup final
The Sharks will be playing in the Champions Cup off the back of this trophy - Andrew Boyers/Reuters

10:01 PM BST

Gloucester DOR George Skivington speaking to TNT

It’s tough to swallow, we’ve got some quality blokes leaving us next year.

The guys have put a lot in, worked really hard to get to this final, we didn’t really get a foothold in the game.

We started well and we finished well but between that we got sucked into a battle of scrums.

09:59 PM BST

Sharks victorious

09:56 PM BST

Disappointment for Gloucester

09:50 PM BST


Gloucester lose it near the line and the Sharks nearly score again but they are held up. With the clock in the red that is it and the Sharks have won. They become the first South African side to win a European trophy (yes, that does sound weird!) and they book a place in next season’s Champions Cup.

09:47 PM BST

Try Gloucester

This game has massively opened up and it is Gloucester who are benefitting. It is Thorley who makes great distance, all the way from his own 22. He offloads to Clarke on his outside, who goes over for the try. Hastings cannot land the conversion.

09:45 PM BST

77 mins: Gloucester 17 Sharks 36

Wright is very close to going over for a Sharks try but the South Africans are penalised just short of the line for a side entry at the ruck.

09:44 PM BST

Try Gloucester

It will be a mere consolation but some great hands gives Gloucester their second try of the night. Second-row Clarke, right on the touchline, shows great hands to get the offload away inside to Socino, who goes over. Hastings lands the conversion.

Santiago Socino goes over for a Gloucester try
Santiago Socino goes over for a consolation Gloucester try - Andrew Boyers/Reuters

09:42 PM BST

75 mins: Gloucester 10 Sharks 36

May has come off on his final appearance for Gloucester. He scored 72 tries in nearly 200 appearances for Gloucester across two spells. Not the ending he and Gloucester would have wanted.

09:39 PM BST

No try Gloucester

They are going to lose this final but Jonny May, on his final appearance for Gloucester, has just had a moment of genius. The crossfield kick finds May near the touchline and, instead of catching it, volleys it. The kick through finds Varney, who dives over. But the try will not stand as Varney was offside from the initial kick.

09:35 PM BST

70 mins: Gloucester 10 Sharks 36

The Sharks are changing their entire starting front-row, who have dominated at the scrum tonight. That has been the foundation of their success tonight.

09:29 PM BST

64 mins: Gloucester 10 Sharks 36

Masuku has been perfect from the tee but that is no more as he misses a fairly simple kick.

09:28 PM BST

63 mins: Gloucester 10 Sharks 36

It is messy at the back of the Gloucester scrum and Williams takes advantage, hacking the ball forward. He is taken out near the Gloucester 22 and the Sharks are given the penalty. They opt for the posts.

09:26 PM BST

Try Sharks

Just as Gloucester may have thought they had a glimmer of hope, that is gone. Carreras drops the high ball on the edge of the Gloucester 22. Masuku sees Mapimpi on the left wing in acres of space and executes a perfect crossfield kick to find Mapimpi, who has a stroll in for the try. Masuku’s perfect night from the tee continues and the Sharks now lead 36-10.

Sharks' Makazole Mapimpi dives in to score their third try
Makazole Mapimpi scores in the corner after a pinpoint crossfield kick - David Rogers/Getty Images

09:23 PM BST

Try Gloucester

Tuisue has only just come onto the pitch and he is driven over by the Gloucester maul. Just a small glimmer of hope for Gloucester. Hastings’ conversion is successful.

09:22 PM BST

56 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 29

Gloucester win a penalty almost straight off the kick-off and they will kick to the corner. No real thinking now about that decision as they are 26 points down.

09:20 PM BST

Try Sharks

That is game, set and match but was there a knock-on in the build-up? It looked like Etzebeth may have knocked out at the base of a ruck near the Gloucester line but nothing given. The Sharks then ship it through the backs to put Fassi through a big gap and under the posts. It is the simplest of conversions and the Sharks you would think have won this. The try stands and the Sharks’ lead is now 26 points.

09:18 PM BST

Penalty Sharks

Masuku has been faultless from the tee and the Sharks are getting closer to the victory.

09:17 PM BST

51 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 19

Carreras knocks on going up for a high ball and then Gloucester are penalised for hands on the ground at the breakdown. Carreras is down receiving treatment after landing awkwardly.

The Sharks will go for goal again...

09:13 PM BST

Penalty Sharks

Masuku lands the easiest of penalties and the Sharks’ lead is up to 16 points.

09:13 PM BST

49 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

The Sharks win the scrum penalty against the head and, in front of the posts, they will go for goal to extend their lead...

09:11 PM BST

48 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

The Sharks go through a number of phases close to the Gloucester line but Socino secures a crucial turnover and Gloucester have the scrum. Big stop from Gloucester there.

09:09 PM BST

46 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

Gloucester are on the edge of the Sharks 22 but Williams intercepts. The Sharks charge downfield and into the Gloucester 22. The South Africans now have a penalty advantage after Hastings is caught offside. Mathieu Raynal goes back to the penalty five metres out from the Gloucester line. The Sharks go to the corner and you would imagine if they score a try here that will be game over...

09:06 PM BST

43 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

Gloucester have the put-in at the first scrum of the second half and those changes have made a big difference as they win the scrum penalty.

09:03 PM BST

Second half

Having been destroyed at the scrum in the first half, Gloucester have changed their whole front-row with Socino, Vivas and Gotovtsev coming on.

We are back under way in north London. Gloucester have a huge mountain to climb.

08:47 PM BST


The Sharks kick it out and that is half-time. The Sharks lead 16-3 at the break.

08:45 PM BST

38 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

Gloucester do keep possession from the scrum but a few phases later they knock on. Mathieu Raynal sees on the big screen though that there was a knock on from the Sharks so Gloucester will have the put-in at the scrum.

08:43 PM BST

37 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

After looking at some replays, Mathieu Raynal has changed his mind. He has decided there was no foul play and gives a knock on against Fassi. Gloucester will have the scrum just outside the Sharks 22 but remember how the scrums have gone so far...

08:42 PM BST

36 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 16

The Sharks are given a penalty from the kick-off as Thorley is penalised for taking Fassi out in the air. It is being sent to the TMO...

08:41 PM BST

Penalty Sharks

Masuku is on it again from the tee and the Sharks are growing this lead out. It is now 16-3 to the South Africans.

08:39 PM BST

35 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 13

Gloucester have the put-in at the scrum at the edge of their 22 but once again the Sharks win a penalty, a fourth they have won at the scrum. The Sharks point to the posts...

08:37 PM BST

33 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 13

Trevor Nyakane, another World Cup-winning Springbok, is behind our press box here and is having a seriously good evening supporting his compatriots. He must be in the top five per cent of attendees in the ground for sheer volume and he’s also explained a scrum penalty to nearby spectators

08:36 PM BST

32 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 13

Vincent Koch, a tighthead prop, has just put a brilliant grubber kick through and secures a 50-22. But Gloucester steal the Sharks line-out.

08:35 PM BST

Penalty Sharks

Masuku does land the easy penalty and the Sharks now lead by 10 points.

08:34 PM BST

30 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 10

The Sharks win a penalty on the edge of the Gloucester 22 and point to the posts. It should be a simple three points...

08:33 PM BST

29 mins: Gloucester 3 Sharks 10

Look away, Gloucester fans. Sharks have a scrum, guess what happens next. Scrum penalty for the South Africans.

08:31 PM BST

Try Sharks

The first try of the night and what a finish from the Sharks number eight Buthelezi. He breaks a tackle after a great offload from Koch, dummies and goes over. Masuku lands the simple conversion and the Sharks lead 10-3.

08:27 PM BST

Penalty Gloucester

That is quite some kick. 59 metres and Englefield tucks it just inside the right-hand upright. 3-3.

Caolan Englefield kicks for goal
Caolan Englefield lands a sensational long-distance kick - Andrew Boyers/Reuters

08:27 PM BST

23 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 3

Gloucester quickly win another penalty, this time in their own half and they point to the posts again. This will be a huge effort as scrum-half Englefield will attempt it...

08:25 PM BST

22 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 3

Carreras steps up to take the penalty from distance but he drags his effort wide of the left-hand post.

08:25 PM BST

20 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 3

Carreras takes a terrific catch from a high kick and Gloucester then win a penalty just inside the Sharks half as the South African side do not roll away. Having gone for the corner in the early skirmishes, Gloucester point to the posts...

08:20 PM BST

17 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 3

Fassi is now back on the pitch after his sin-bin and the Sharks have managed to win that period 3-0.

Suffocating defence, powerful scrummaging, taking points when they are on offer… South African sides know how to navigate knockout games, don’t they? Gloucester have had the best of this opening quarter, and faced 14 men for 10 minutes, but Sharks are ahead. And their big guns – Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambu, Vincent Koch and Eben Etzebeth – are on one.

08:17 PM BST

Penalty Sharks

Masuku lands the penalty from around 35 metres out and the Sharks get the first points of the final. 3-0 to the Sharks.

Siya Masuku kicks a penalty towards goal
Siya Masuku gives the Sharks the lead - Andrew Boyers/Reuters

08:16 PM BST

14 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Gloucester have a scrum inside their own half and the Sharks muller them to win a penalty against the head. We thought the Sharks would dominate in this area and they are most certainly doing son. The Sharks point to the posts to try and take the lead and also run down some of the sin-bin time...

08:12 PM BST

10 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

No surprise there as the Sharks front-row of Nche, Mbonambi and Koch wins their side a dominant scrum penalty. Ominous I think you would call that. We have seen those three dominate in South Africa shirts for a while now.

08:11 PM BST

9 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Etzebeth’s defensive work was superb there to deny Harris as the Gloucester and Scotland centre comes up just short and then knocks on. Gloucester fans will be wondering how their side has not scored.

08:10 PM BST

9 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Has Harris scored? He reached for the line but it looks like he may have knocked it on...

08:10 PM BST

8 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Gloucester send it wide after the maul is stopped. Hastings tries a grubber kick towards the corner but May cannot take advantage. Gloucester had a penalty anyway so they go to the corner again...

08:08 PM BST

7 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Gloucester are just a few metres from the Sharks line and have a penalty advantage, but they cannot take advantage so they go back for the penalty. The Sharks have been under pressure in these early stages and the number of penalties has cost them as Fassi is sent to the bin for offside. He perhaps should have been sent to the bin right at the start but now he does. Gloucester go to the corner...

08:05 PM BST

5 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

The Sharks get their maul defence spot on there and push the Gloucester maul into touch. Gloucester will be frustrated they have come away from this 22 entry with no points.

08:04 PM BST

4 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

The Sharks take the maul down illegally and Gloucester win another penalty. The South African side need to be careful here or they will receive an early yellow. Gloucester go back to the corner.

08:03 PM BST

3 mins: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Another penalty against the Sharks, this time for a high tackle not far outside their 22. Mapimpi is the guilty party for high shot on Carreras. Gloucester opt for the corner instead of the posts. Huge early chance for Gloucester.

08:01 PM BST

1 min: Gloucester 0 Sharks 0

Inside the opening minute Fassi takes Mercer out in the air and Gloucester are awarded a penalty. Referee Mathieu Raynal opts for no card, which is perhaps a little fortunate for the Sharks full-back.

Aphelele Fassi takes out Zach Mercer in the air
Should the Sharks have received a very early yellow inside the opening minute? - Paul Harding/Getty Images

08:00 PM BST


We are under way at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Who will be lifting the Challenge Cup trophy in a couple of hours time and booking their place in the Champions Cup next season? Will it be Gloucester or the Sharks?

Pyrotechnics go off
Who will be victorious? - Adam Davy/PA

07:54 PM BST

Reminder of the teams

Gloucester: Carreras, May, Harris, Atkinson, Thorley, Hastings, Englefield; Ford-Robinson, Blake, Balmain, Clarke, Clark, Ackermann, Ludlow, Mercer.

Subs: Socino, Vivas, Gotovtsev, Tuisue, Clement, Varney, Llewellyn, Hathaway.

Sharks: Fassi, Kok, Hooker, Venter, Mapimpi, Masuku, Williams, Nche, Mbonambi, Koch, Etzebeth, Grobler, Venter, Tshituka, Buthelezi.

Subs: Mbatha, Mchunu, Jacobs, Labuschagne, Richardson, Wright, Bosch, Keyter.

07:51 PM BST

Preparations ramping up

07:49 PM BST

Kick-off fast approaching in north London

Zach Mercer vocal as the Gloucester forwards huddle up there during the warm-up. He can send a stirring message to Steve Borthwick tonight with an influential performance against this Sharks pack, which features four World Cup winners including the extraordinary Eben Etzebeth.

07:43 PM BST

Live from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

This is a seriously impressive stadium and the surface is impeccable. It won’t be anywhere near full tonight but the atmosphere is building nicely. Before taking my seat I saw jerseys from Stormers, the Springboks, Munster, Connacht, Harlequins Leicester Tigers and… Western Force. An eclectic affair.

Gloucester are pursuing a double, which would represent vindication for their decision to throw a second team to the wolves in Northampton a fortnight ago. That 90-0 loss will be pretty much forgotten with victory here… but, wow, the Sharks line-up is full of hardened champions.

07:33 PM BST

More than one prize

Both of these sides are not only playing for a trophy tonight, they are also playing for a spot in the Champions Cup next season. They have both experienced tough league seasons, so they have one last shot at a place in rugby’s premier club competition for the next campaign.

07:30 PM BST


Gloucester: Carreras, May, Harris, Atkinson, Thorley, Hastings, Englefield; Ford-Robinson, Blake, Balmain, Clarke, Clark, Ackermann, Ludlow, Mercer.

Subs: Socino, Vivas, Gotovtsev, Tuisue, Clement, Varney, Llewellyn, Hathaway.

Sharks: Fassi, Kok, Hooker, Venter, Mapimpi, Masuku, Williams, Nche, Mbonambi, Koch, Etzebeth, Grobler, Venter, Tshituka, Buthelezi.

Subs: Mbatha, Mchunu, Jacobs, Labuschagne, Richardson, Wright, Bosch, Keyter.

07:24 PM BST

Mercer dreaming of England

Starting at number eight for Gloucester tonight is Zach Mercer, who returned from France last summer to be eligible for England. He was not selected for the World Cup and is hoping to press his claim on the summer tour coming up in the weeks ahead in Japan and New Zealand. Our very own Daniel Schofield has spoken to him this week about his aim of making the tour.

Zach Mercer walking during the captain's run the day before the final
Zach Mercer is hoping to be selected by England this summer - Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images

07:17 PM BST

Path to the final

Having sailed through the group stages, Gloucester beat Castres at home in the Last-16 which was followed by a quarter-final victory against the Ospreys. They then overcame Benetton in the semi-finals to reach tonight’s final.

For the Sharks, they thrashed Zebre in the Last-16 and then beat Edinburgh in the quarter-finals. They then won a dramatic semi-final at The Stoop against Clermont to book their place in the final.

07:14 PM BST

Kevin Pietersen cheering on the Sharks from the IPL in India

07:09 PM BST

Gloucester arriving

07:04 PM BST

Sharks team news

07:03 PM BST

Gloucester team news

05:26 PM BST

Out to eradicate pain of 90-0 humiliation

A 90-0 thrashing at the hands of Northampton may not sound like the ideal preparation for a European final but the wisdom, or otherwise, of effectively fielding a second XV will be seen tonight when Gloucester face Durban-based Sharks in the final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The Cherry and Whites coach George Skivington came in for a lot of stick over that decision but it’s one that he’s defended many times since the annihilation. Since winning the Premiership Cup in May the focus has been on adding more silverware with victory in Europe. And Skivington is sure he made the right calls this season. 

“We have never thrown the towel in with the Premiership but it got away from us at the start of the year,” Skivington told Daniel Schofield. “When we sat down as the key stakeholders who make decisions we said we can keep going in the Prem and maybe creep up a couple of places but we won’t be able to compete in the cups because the squad is not big enough. Or we try to get to a couple of finals, have some big days out and win some trophies, which has not happened a lot at this club.

“It is a big club but it has been barren for silverware. We knew some people who would agree with it and some people who wouldn’t. I knew there were some Prem games where we would really have to rotate heavily and everyone was on board. I think for me, it is more exciting to get to two finals, than to finish seventh.”

Standing in the way of double glory is South African outfit Sharks. They, like Gloucester, haven’t fired on the domestic front and currently lie 13th in the United Rugby Championship.

That position contradicts a powerful squad that includes players like South African World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch and Eben Etzebeth. And Skivington is in no doubt they will provide a stern test at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tonight.

“There is no getting away from the physicality with the Sharks. If you are not ready for that physicality battle it is going to be a long day,” the Gloucester coach said.

“We pride ourselves on our set-piece and we work really hard on it, and so do they. It is a South African trait to have a very strong set-piece, so I expect that to be a very competitive area of the game.”

Stay here to find out if Gloucester can eradicate the pain of the 90-0 humiliation with European glory.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.