Rugby Union: 'Shocked' Hill is sacked by Gloucester

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RICHARD HILL yesterday became the second managerial casualty of the season when he was sacked by Gloucester after three years and four months in charge at Kingsholm.

Philippe Saint-Andre, the France international wing, will take over until the end of the season. Hill, who was appointed director of rugby in October 1995, said: "It has been a fair old shock. We are all very disappointed at Gloucester's position in the table and it doesn't look good from the outside, we are fifth from bottom and I cannot argue with that fact."

The Gloucester team manager, John Fidler, a friend of Hill's, keeps his job, and he said: "It's a very sad day here at the club. But we are in a business."

Tom Walkinshaw, part owner of the Arrows Formula One motor racing team who has a 73 per cent stake in the club, underlined the business approach when he said: "He [Hill] is the guy in charge and he is the one responsible if it doesn't work."

The dismissal will fuel speculation that Hill may attract the attention of Bath. Their former scrum-half still lives in the city and Bath are struggling too.

Privately they acknowledge that they would like to appoint a director of rugby to relieve their head coach, Andy Robinson, of some of his administrative burdens and let him concentrate on the team.

Last night the Bath general manager, Bob Calleja, said: "The reality is that we are all under constant review, but we are not contemplating any immediate personnel changes."

Hill confined himself to a cautious: "At the moment I have no plans in place because I had not intended to lose my job overnight like this."

Even after their ninth league defeat against Harlequins last Saturday Hill was insisting that Walkinshaw had not lost patience at the club's poor showing, but last night he said: "At least I've got plenty of time now to concentrate on my England A coaching duties."

Hill's false optimism, page 23