Lesley Vainikolo GloucesterGloucester Rugby claimed the West Country bragging rights last weekend with a 18-3 Premiership win at Bath Rugby – now head coach Bryan Redpath is plotting success in Europe starting with the Amlin Challenge Cup Round 1 clash with Agen at Stade Alfred Armandie on Friday night.

And former Scotland scrum half Redpath knows from both sides of the fence exactly what it takes to win the silverware.

He captained Sale Sharks to the title in 2002, went on to do the double as a player three years later and then was on the Gloucester Rugby coaching staff when they beat London Irish 36-34 in extra time of the 2006 final at the Twickenham Stoop.

Agen are back on the European stage for the first time since the 2006 / 2007 Heineken Cup and go into action with a two from two European record against Gloucester Rugby, winning their Heineken Cup encounters that season 32-26 at Kinghholm and 26-18 in France.

“We’ve had a tough few weeks in the Aviva Premiership but heading into European action comes at the right time,” said Redpath.

“It’s a different competition with different opponents and different locations and that always gives you a little buzz of excitement.

“And we are obviously taking it seriously.

“Last year, the Heineken Cup gave our season a bit of a shot in the arm when we most needed it. We won our last three group games to make the knock-out stages and they were important wins for us in terms of the context of our season.

“Agen will be a tough opponent on Friday.

“They may be bottom of the Top 14 at the moment but we’re not reading too much into that. Any French side on their own turf are a top proposition.

“We will have to be focussed on what we have to do and on top of our game if we are going to come away with anything.

“I will be selecting a team capable of carrying out the task in hand and hopefully getting us off to a good start.”

Gloucester Rugby also face La Rochelle and Femi-CZ Rovigo in Pool 5 and with only the Pool winners qualifying for the quarter-finals they may need to win twice on the road in France and once in Italy to make the knock-out stages.

Rovigo are new opponents for Gloucester but the Premiership club won both matches against la Rochelle in the 2001/02 Amlin Challenge Cup tournament.