Ryan, 23, the DJ who owns Gloucester

Walkinshaw follows in his late father's footsteps and hopes to turn the tables on Saracens in today's semi-final

Gloucester has never fitted rugby union's stuffed-shirt stereotype, but not even the seething masses who populate the Kingsholm Shed know quite what to make of Ryan Walkinshaw. "You'll always have people who are negative and who say 'what the hell is this 23-year-old doing?'" admits the newest, brashest board member in the game, with his swept-back blond hair, eyebrow stud and blissed-out summers spent DJ-ing in Ibiza. "But the management system of the club has not changed apart from dad not being there to give his guidance."

Dad, as everyone in English rugby knows, was Tom Walkinshaw, the former Gloucester and Premiership chairman – and racing driver, engineer and Formula One team owner – who passed away from cancer aged 64 last December. In the course of three years fighting the pernicious disease which began in his bladder, went away and came back, he planned meticulously for Ryan to inherit his businesses when he was gone. The son gives every sign of rising to the challenge.

"We'll keep Gloucester prospering and growing and eventually it might make a couple of quid," says Ryan. "Until it does, we'll keep backing it. A lot of fans realise it's better to keep it in the family rather than let an investment bank take it over and strip it out. Or an oligarch come along and change the name to Red Bull Rugby or something like that. If that happened I'd be hanging from the beams of The Shed."

Tom had 14 years on the Gloucester board and two stints as the chairman of England's top clubs – during which he successfully argued for a salary cap – and was known on occasion to grab a microphone and address the supporters from the middle of the pitch. Anecdotally, it was said his ideal board meeting would have comprised one person. "Dad wanted to have his club that he loved coming to at weekends, even when that was his only free time," says Ryan. "The only day off he'd have was Christmas."

Ryan's diary is similarly packed. He left for India and Australia after the final regular-season match against Sale – a 68-17 win that confirmed Gloucester's surprise third-placed finish – and will track today's Premiership semi-final against Saracens at Watford on the internet.

He is busy with strategy and board meetings at Holden Special Vehicles – Australian-based engineers of souped-up road cars – and a championship-winning racing team Down Under. Trusted associates of his dad are advising him, including David McKnight, the new Gloucester chairman, Ken Nottage, the club's chief executive, and Jeff Browne, chairman of HSV, who was his father's lawyer and is managing director of Channel Nine in Australia.

Not that this is a rugby novice. Ryan has been on pre-season tours with the Gloucester squad, and did gap-year work experience selling tickets, mowing the pitch, doing a coaching certificate and so on. He was a First XV hooker at Radley College, close in Oxfordshire to where Tom Walkinshaw Racing was based.

Until his father's illness, Ryan was concentrating on music as a career. An old website shows him hunched over his decks and quotes a list of techno influences that are a mystery to this writer. "There's nothing more fun than going to a club and having 10,000 people paying to watch you," Ryan says. "I've worked the Zoo club in Ibiza for three summers – twice a week, every week, 6,000 people in the open air." His younger brother Sean has the motoring gene: he is doing his A-levels but has begun driving in Formula Renault. Ryan quit Newcastle University because "I wanted to get out and actually do it rather than listening to a lecturer who, if he was that good, would have his own business making money for himself".

The thrust after Tom Walkinshaw's passing was to reassure season-ticketholders of the line of succession, and investment, from the family as joint owners with Martin St Quinton. "The great part of Gloucester rugby is its tradition and its heritage," says Ryan, bright-eyed and tanned of face as we look across the Kingsholm turf where no self-respecting ear comes without a cauliflower. "Rugby is becoming more modern and cool and a sexy sport in some ways. We've got to keep up to date with that if we want to expand. There's 100,000 people in Gloucester and we're already getting 16,000 per match. We've got to push further in Swindon and Cheltenham and Cirencester and maybe even steal a few Bath fans on the way."

Gloucester have stuck to the salary cap, to the extent that three internationals – Dave Attwood, Nicky Robinson and Paul Doran-Jones – are leaving for Bath, Wasps and Northampton respectively. "We could talk about investing an extra million and get Dan Carter," says Ryan, "but we could get caught spending over the salary cap, and I'd rather not spend £5 million in fines. We don't have the money to go over it. I think Dario Chistolini [a prop from Italy] will make a big impact. Doran-Jones, before he came here, was a nobody. Now look at him."

Ryan was closely involved with extending James Simpson-Daniel's contract by three years, dissuading him from moving to France. The captain Mike Tindall has signed for another year, but he is injured. Names like Freddie Burns, Jonny May, Henry Trinder, Charlie Sharples and Dave Lewis have pushed themselves forward. Ryan, who played against Danny Cipriani at school, enjoys the "banter" with these contemporaries. "Still you need a few old heads to give them a slap when they step out of line," he says. "Tindall gives them a bit of a bollocking when he needs to. He's averaging a lot of money per game and has a talent for getting injured with England. At the same time he's really important and is someone the young guys look up to."

Jet lag appears to be this particular young guy's only worry, and even that gets a rapid brush-off. He is booked to arrive back in London at 7am on the morning of the Premiership final. "I'll go to the hotel, get showered and changed, go to the lunch and hopefully watch Gloucester in the final. I'm confident we'll be there."

The Walkinshaw sporting dynasty

Tom Walkinshaw, 64, passed away last December, survived by his first wife Elizabeth and their son Fergus, and his second wife Martine and their sons Ryan and Sean.

Tom began motor racing in 1968, driving an MG Midgetat a local track in Scotland before competing in many classes, notably touring cars. In the mid-1970s he set up Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) to design road and race cars.

Though involved as an engineer or owner in Formula One teams Ligier, Benetton – he helped to sign Michael Schumacher – and Arrows, perhaps his greatest achievement was helping restore Jaguar to the winner's podium in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1988 after a 31-year gap. Latterly, his focus was in Australia with Holden Special Vehicles and Holden Racing.

Tom joined the Gloucester RFC board in 1997 and was twice chairman of Premier Rugby Ltd, experiencing the game's growing pains in the open era. Fergus was driving last season in the Ginetta G55 Championship, and teenager Sean is in his first year driving for Hillspeed in Formula Renault. Ryan succeeded his father as the joint owner of Gloucester Rugby with Martin St Quinton.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone