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Tributes paid to Walkinshaw

Tributes have been paid to Tom Walkinshaw after the Gloucester chairman lost his battle with cancer at the age of 64.

Walkinshaw, also a major figure in the world of motor sport, took over at Kingsholm as the Gloucester owner on April 29, 1997 after buying a majority shareholding.

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."

Mark Foster, now with Exeter, also posted his best wishes.

He wrote: "Saddened to hear about the passing of Tom Walkinshaw, a great man who has done so much for Gloucester Rugby over the years. Will be missed greatly, my thoughts go out to his family."

Walkinshaw 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.

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