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Gloucester chairman Walkinshaw dies

Gloucester chairman Tom Walkinshaw has died, the Aviva Premiership club have confirmed.

Walkinshaw, the former Formula One team owner, had been suffering from cancer.

Gloucester will not be making any further statement on Sunday evening.

Walkinshaw took over at Kingsholm as the Gloucester owner on April 29, 1997 after buying a majority shareholding.

He was chairman of Premier Rugby, the top-flight clubs' umbrella body, between 1998 and 2002 and helped establish stability after a chaotic period for the newly-professional sport. During his four-year stint as chairman, Premiership Rugby introduced the salary cap and the average attendances in the Premiership increased by 33%.

Walkinshaw later led the clubs' team negotiating with the Rugby Football Union over the release of England players, the details of which are now enshrined in an eight-year agreement.

Gloucester never managed to win the Premiership title under Walkinshaw's ownership but they went agonisingly close, finishing top of the regular season table three times only to lose in the play-offs.

In 2003 Gloucester finished 15 points clear at the top only to be beaten by Wasps in the first ever Premiership Grand Final. The Cherry and Whites did win the 2005 European Challenge Cup, beating London Irish 36-34 after extra-time in a thrilling final at The Stoop.

Only last week, Walkinshaw met with Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath to discuss the future for out-of-contract stars like Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel.

Bath's former Gloucester player Olly Barkley said on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear about the passing of Tom Walkinshaw. Amazing man. My thoughts are with his family and close friends. Be safe."

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