The proof of success of any scheme is its retention and the fact Moseley are to continue their relationship with Gloucester into a second season suggests it has been beneficial for both parties.
Indeed it is probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that in years to come, when partnerships between Premiership and National League sides are commonplace, this year’s Hands Along the M5 initiative may turn out to be rather groundbreaking.
Gloucester have profited from the exposure to real competition experienced by many of their uncut diamonds, while Moseley have enjoyed the services of talented youngsters like Dan Norton, Jack Adams and Jack Forster.
The latter in particular will have learned an incredible amount going up against some of the country’s most gnarled front row practitioners and Adams attributed the ease with which he stepped into top flight action, when recalled to Kingsholm a couple of months ago, to the fact he had been playing week in week out at Billesley Common.
However, whether these developments are merely concomitant with the introduction of dual registration or specific to the Special Friendship is virtually impossible to tell.
Another part of the agreement was the provision of three loan players at all times during the season - this has been rather more hit and miss. The Adam Balding fiasco, when Gloucester lent the No 8 to Leeds after suggesting Moseley could use him left both clubs looking silly and with players like Alasdair Dickinson, Mark Foster and Jonathan Pendlebury dipping in and out of the Moseley set up, Ian Smith’s line-up lacked continuity. The question Moseley must answer is ’Do they want sporadic use of a top class player or regular use of an inferior model?’
Yet the impact of the Kingsholm Kids should not be understated. Norton finished as the club’s top try scorer, Adams was undoubtedly their best threequarter and - particularly early in the season, Forster gave the pack a much more solid foundation - except at home to Newbury.
As a result the relegation fears that stalked the club last season were never present this term. An outstanding start to the campaign - wins at Nottingham and a first ever victory over Pertemps Bees, gave Mose the momentum their local rivals always lacked.
They finished strongly too with consecutive home successes over Cornish Pirates and Esher dispelling the suspicion the threequarter line had not emerged from its hibernation.
In between they oscillated between inspired and insipid. Astonishing wins at London Welsh, Rotherham and Plymouth Albion can be reflected on with genuine pride. Miserable defeats to Doncaster, Bedford and Coventry were little short of shambolic.
If one line of division can be drawn, it is between their home and away form. Until a fortnight ago Moseley had won eight times on their travels and just twice in front of their own loyal supporters. The Curse of Windy Alley seemed to affect anyone clad in Red and Black.
Theories abounded - the conditions, pre-match preparation and mental fortitude were all proffered but the truth is no one knew why Smith’s Lions resembled lemurs when they appeared on the Common. Those final two victories not only lifted Mose to a credible tenth but helped exorcise that particular ghost.
They also helped obscure the fact that for most of the season they lacked a cutting edge. Only five teams scored fewer tries and even ones that lacked players of Adams’ and Norton’s quality bagged more. A large part of their problem was an inability to turn possession and territory into points.
Answers should be sought in decision-making positions. Moseley could have done without James Ireland - outstanding at Meadow Lane, sustaining a season-ending injury. They could also have done with Matt Jones staying in situ.
The fly half is a fine player but was another victim of the culture of the automaton so prevalent in modern day rugby. Strategy and gameplans are given primacy above the ability improvise and inspire. Understandable given the rising stakes but sad nonetheless.
Jones’ departure - and subsequent arrival at London Welsh, left Moseley without a top class No 10. Greg Macdonald did his best to prove his value in National One as did Neil Stenhouse but by the time the season ended they were back with Tommy Hayes.
A quality recruit must be top of their list and he must not come from Gloucester because to make the next step Moseley need to have control over the spine to their team.
The pack is maturing nicely into competent First Division force. Neil Mason led well and if they can be retained Nathan Williams, James Rodwell, Paul Arnold and Adam Caves give the side real backbone. The rest, no doubt, will come clad in Cherry and White.
* SEASON IN STATISTICS
League finish: 10th in National One.
Games played: 30.
Games won: 12.
Games drawn: 1.
Games lost: 17.
National Trophy: 4th round (L Pertemps Bees, home, 11-12).
Leading points scorer: Matt Jones 75 (12 cons, 17 pens).
Leading try scorer: Dan Norton 9.
Player of the year: Neil Mason.