ATKINSON SIGNS FOR GLOUCESTER
Bedford Blues centre Mark Atkinson will be plying his trade in the Aviva Premiership next season after agreeing a deal to play for Gloucester.
Atkinson, 24, was one of the key signings for Bedford in 2012 and helped the Blues reach the Championship play-off final in his first season with the club and has remained an influential part of the squad this term.
Speaking about the former Esher, Sale Sharks and Wasps man departure, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: "Mark has been a great player to work with and he leaves Goldington Road with our very best of wishes. No one likes to lose a player of his talents but we would not stand in the way of someone wishing to fulfil thier dream of playing at the highest level and I'm sure big things are in store for Mark."
Gloucester's Director of Rugby, Nigel Davies, said: "Mark's one of the stand out players in the Championship and, if you speak to anyone who watches much rugby at that level, I'm sure they'll agree.
"When you look at players who come from the Championship, you're looking for three or four things which set that player apart from everyone else. Certainly with the guys that we've signed from that level of rugby, we see that on a regular basis.
"Obviously a big part of the process is to meet these players and establish the type of character they are, their commitment levels, their competitiveness and their desire to succeed.
"Mark ticks all those boxes. He's not coming here as cover, he's coming to Gloucester to challenge for a place."