Sad To See Kolo Baby Go

As Owen Farrell lined up a shot at goal in last year’s Premiership semi-final, Vicarage Road settled to a respectful hush.

Suddenly Lesley Vainikolo’s unmistakable catchphrase boomed out around the Watford ground.

Perhaps the crowd could not hear it, but it was clearly audible to us Gloucester players on the field.

“Only for the Kolo baby!” rang out clear as a bell, and as ever, it put a huge smile on our faces.

Rugby fans will probably remember The Volcano best for five tries on his Premiership debut against Leeds, making the transition from Rugby League to feature for England – and for the hairstyles.

Big Les has now left Gloucester for La Rochelle, and in the middle of a season and a contract, that’s a fairly rare move.

We’re all sad to see him go – he’s been at the centre of Gloucester’s social and team spirit heartbeat.

Les was injured for that semi-final; in fact he was injured for the second half of last season after dislocating a shoulder at Leeds on New Year’s Day 2011.

He never let the injury get him down though, and he was integral in making sure everyone who wasn’t playing in that eventual 12-10 semi-final defeat was in the stands cheering us on.

Les always has a smile on his face, always has a joke up his sleeve – and always has time for his team mates.

He was great at ensuring we socialised together as a squad to cement team bonding.

Add that to his great physical presence, experience and impact on the field, and it’s not hard to see why he made such a big impression on everyone at Kingsholm.

As I said we’re sad to see him leave – but we’re all also pretty pragmatic about the fact that sometimes these things happen in professional sport.

At 32 this is a great move for Les, he’ll be sorely missed but we all wish him well for the future.


Read more from Jim Hamilton on Living Rugby soon; you can follow him on twitter @jimhamilton4

Read our Gloucester Rugby club page for our ground guide, news and links to buy tickets.

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