The Greatest Day: Gloucester-Hartpury

Abi Curran
Abi Curran
7 minute read
Tatyana Heard had to check Gloucester-Hartpury’s famed social media ‘Queensholm’ post was not photoshopped.

The 29-year-old still gets goosebumps when she thinks about last year’s fabled final and helping the club secure their first top-flight title in front of a jubilant Shed.

This year, history repeats itself as Sean Lynn’s side go head-to-head with Susie Appleby’s Exeter Chiefs but this time in the semi-final, with a place in the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby Final on the line.

Fond memories of their 2022/23 conquest still sit at the forefront of Heard’s mind as the Circus set themselves up for a final four bout this weekend at Kingsholm once more.

She said: “The whole day itself was massive for us as a group, we love playing at Kingsholm and everyone made it so special for us to be there that day.

“Getting the win on the day highlighted how great the season had been for us so it was a dream, you couldn’t have asked for a better day.

“It's up there with some of the best memories, the difference with being at this club is that you spend most days with these girls and they are your best friends.

“Moments like that don’t really come around often so to do it at Kingsholm with your best friends is rare in a rugby career.

“A lot of us thought it was photoshopped so we all went down to have a look. It's just really cool that they even thought of doing something like that for us.”

Following an injury earlier in the season, Heard made her first appearance since December last month, bringing her fine Guinness Women’s Six Nations form back to her club at centre.

Heard is no stranger to the biggest stages of them all, and the memories of last year quickly come flooding back when she thinks of her finest moments at Kingsholm.

In fact, time on the sidelines has given the experienced Cherry and White forward the opportunity to reflect on her seven-year journey with the club and knows how remarkable a title repeat would be.

She said: “We’ve definitely been growing as a team throughout the years.

“There were quite a few tough years for us as Gloucester-Hartpury and there were moments where we would compete with the top four and it would potentially be in the last 10-15 minutes where we lost it.

“To have last year, getting quite a significant amount of wins against top teams, that was huge.

“We’d always been so close. When something was within touching distance, it was so much more desirable so for us that was the big one.

“It was getting to that point and then you get into the semis and the finals and there’s nothing to lose.”

But on this year’s quest, Heard revealed Lynn did not opt for a rinse and repeat approach, instilling a rather different mentality within the group.

She said: “He immediately said we’re not the champions anymore, we were the champions last year and if you want to be a champion again, you’re going to have to do more work.

“That was a really important message because you can’t get those moments easily.”

The only team that have stood in Gloucester-Hartpury’s way so far this season is Saracens, after Heard’s side suffered a narrow 33-31 defeat on the road.

The loss stifled a perfect run in the league, but she believes it will make the Circus stronger come the weekend.

She said: “You learn a lot from losing, it was such a close game, you can only learn from moments like that, would’ve loved to have got the win and gone unbeaten throughout the season but I don’t think it was the worst thing for us.

“Exeter in the top four, for them it would be a massive occasion, everyone should get to experience something like that in their rugby career, we’re really grateful that we got that.

“I definitely would love to get there, there’s a big semi-final and we’re looking forward to that initially with that game at Kingsholm.”

Tickets from £10 are now on sale for the Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby Final 2024 at Sandy Park on 22 June, kick off 3pm. Buy tickets here.