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Tributes pour in for Walkinshaw

Gloucester managing director Ken Nottage has hailed Tom Walkinshaw's "great leadership" as rugby union united in tribute following his death at the age of 64.

Walkinshaw, who had battled cancer, was chairman of Gloucester and had been prominent at the Kingsholm helm throughout most of rugby's 15-year professional era. He became Gloucester owner in April, 1997 after buying a majority shareholding.

"It's a sad day for everyone connected with Gloucester Rugby, and our thoughts are obviously with Tom's family at this difficult time," said Nottage.

"The role that Tom played in the early days of professional rugby cannot be underestimated.

"It is fair to say that Gloucester Rugby would not find itself in the strong position that it does today without his great leadership."

England's Premiership clubs have also saluted Walkinshaw, who twice served as chairman of Premiership Rugby and was instrumental in negotiating a long-term agreement between England's top clubs and the Rugby Football Union.

Premiership Rugby described Walkinshaw as "a driving force" over the last 15 years in the success of English professional club rugby.

Premiership Rugby chairman Quentin Smith said: "In so many respects, the success of professional club rugby is testament to the vision, leadership and drive of Tom Walkinshaw.

"His determination and energy helped create the Premiership Rugby and European competitions we know and love today. He will be sadly missed."

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty added: "I worked closely with Tom over the last few years, and unquestionably he was one of the founding fathers and leaders in the creation and growth of professional club rugby, not only in England but across Europe."

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