Ackermann urges Eddie Jones to stick with Danny Cipriani
Cipriani made his Gloucester debut in a 40-31 pre-season friendly victory over the Dragons
Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani during a pre-season friendly match at Kingsholm Stadium. Photograph: PA
Cipriani made his Gloucester debut in a 40-31 pre-season friendly victory over the Dragons on Thursday night after escaping sanction at a English Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing late on Wednesday. The panel upheld the charge of “conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game” but saw no reason to impose further punishment after the outhalf had been fined a total of £4,250 by both Gloucester and the courts and ordered to do 10 hours of community service.
The Gloucester head coach, Johann Ackermann, believes Cipriani must remain part of Jones’s plans this season. “All you have to do is speak to Danny to see and understand the person,” he said. “You can’t cut off your nose to spite your face by not selecting him because of a mistake like that.
“He’s regretful of what happened and that’s not who he wants to be. If Jones has a one-to-one chat with Danny, he’ll understand it’s something that can happen to anybody. It’s been dealt with and now you can only judge him on how he performs.”
Cipriani might have been left to focus on what he does on the field, but he was always going to be the centre of attention in his side’s latest warm-up game. His choice of lime green boots certainly made him stand out, even though the customary scrum cap was absent.
The 30-year-old did not seem too concerned about the repercussions of his Jersey experience before kick-off, walking through the press room whistling a tune, posing for photos with young fans, and signing autographs.
When the action got going, though, Cipriani soon let his ability do the talking. His inch-perfect pass sent Matt Banahan over for an early try and he seemed eager to try new things as he attempted an audacious cross-kick inside his own 22. He also saw a potential try of his own ruled out for a push.
Cipriani certainly looked comfortable in his new surroundings, constantly asking those around him for better communication, and his distribution was effortless at times in the 40 minutes he was on the field. Bigger tests lie ahead, but now his focus must be on business not pleasure.
The RFU has consistently defended its decision to step into the Cipriani row and charge the player, a decision which infuriated Gloucester. Jones will have the final say on whether to include Cipriani – England’s incumbent No 10 – at his team’s training camp in Bristol next month and for the autumn internationals, but he will undoubtedly have taken a dim view of the episode. Jones did give Cipriani a warning over future behaviour when calling him up for the first time in his tenure for the South Africa summer tour.
“If Danny is the in-form player over the next few weeks, there’s no doubt I would select him if I was the England coach,” Ackermann said. “Judging him on last season, he was definitely the Premiership’s in-form fly-half. [GEORGE]Ford and [OWEN]Farrell have lots of ability, but Danny is a highly motivated individual and he wants to play in the World Cup next year.”