The final league matches of the season are upon us, time for those last ditch attempts to secure playoff positions, save themselves from relegation or just salvage some respectability for the seasons campaign.
Bath fall into the latter category although their final bout comes against the age old enemy in the form of Leicester Tigers.
During the 80's and 90's both were considered as the top two teams in England and continuously slogged it out over countless cup finals and truly became top foes. The rivalry is still rife between the two team only Gloucester are a bigger for of Bath but then that more of the local rivalry coming out.
Due to Bath's dip un form Tigers will go into the fixture as firm favourites, and will want to inflict revenge for the square up earlier in the season. After Staunton having 100% accuracy during the game he managed so send a 45m kick sailing wide of the post with the last kick. Thankfully Bath ran out winners by one point, a 26-25 nail biter. With the Tigers at full strength and showing good form this could be a monumental task for Bath. We all know the way the season has panned out, indifferent to say the least, but can they run out victorious at Wellford road and perform the double over Leicester?
A win would salvage some respectability for the season and potentially stay above the other foes Gloucester who will battle against the Exiles, a possible tricky match up for the Cherry and Whites but as Bath Irish and Gloucester have also been varied with their play. Even more surprising is a 5 pointer against Tigers and Sharks taking nothing from the Quins fixture, and we're level pegging. All this is only speculative and I'd just like to see the boys in Blue, Black and white 'tame' the Tigers!! I can only apologise for that pun, I have been fighting it and there will be many more to face over the weekend.
How ever this weekend pans out we must cheer and shout for nothing more than Bath to come out victorious.
Monday, 30 April 2012
The final league matches of the season are upon us, time for those last ditch attempts to secure playoff positions, save themselves from relegation or just salvage some respectability for the seasons campaign.
Saturday, 28 April 2012
As per usual the rumours have been rife with more and more speculative views of the next Bath Ruby DOR and head coach.
We've endure countless snippets of gossip from names such as Mallet, White, Robinson, Catt, Gold, Cheika......to name a few linked with the vacant roles at the Rec.
The latest two candidates 'certain' of the jobs are the intrim duo at Falcons Gary Gold and Mike Ford. Falcons who are staring down the barrel of relegation who before they took over were 10 points adrift from fellow strugglers Wasps. They had gone through a run of 13 games only winning 2, drawing 1 but losing 10. After the time under the Gold and Ford ruling Falcons are about to face a relegation battle, winner takes all with Wasps after clawing back to being 4 points behind. So yes it seems Gold and Ford are doing good things Newcastle, but are they right to try to take bath to the top?
Ford as we all know spent just over 3 years as the defence coach with England and left after the Poor display during the World Cup. The English side during his time in fairness had become a very ill disciplined side and games were lost on the penalties given away. As the role of defense coach this does not bode well.
Gold has been through many roles from London Irish head coach to South Africa's assistant coach a man of good reputation and potentially a good DOR. But is he the man to take Bath back to their glittering highs of yesteryear? We all had the belief that McGeechan was the man to do so, and yet as it was seen not to be!!!
Well one thing is to been said we will have to wait and see........watch this space
Thursday, 26 April 2012
After the Telegraph's revelations last night saying that tomorrow Gary Gold will finally sign as the DOR at Bath Rugby and Mike Catt to be offered the head coaches role today again it's all change!
It has now been suggested that due to backroom staff changes and other possibilities being now looked at the announcement will be delayed to the end of the Aviva Premiership season.
With so much speculation and rumours fluttering around the frustration is now again starting to mount.
If I was a player at Bath Rugby (I wish!!!) what kind of detrimental effect would this be taking. With so much speculation and uncertainty engulfing the club would this be a settling environment or encourage me to want to hit the 100%. How would such unbalance effect the concentration of the players. Although on the flip side of this is, its the best time to show your worth. With a new coaching team set to take over its the best time to show how a pivotal role un the squad.
I thing is for certain for most Bath fans the decisions can't come quick enough, so we know the potential force we all hope the Blue, Black and white army truly can be!
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Since Sir Ian McGeechan's tenure at Bath was announced it was coming to an end the tension has been building to see who'll take the reigns at the Rec. With so many names bouncing about for the head coach and DOR, but utter silence from the club.
But suddenly yesterday there was a blanket of silence across Twitter from all Bath's players, and a rumour circulating that they were banned from using it for the day. But why the silence, will there be an announcement of finally knowing who had the task of resurrecting the Blue,Black and white.
Then here it come the silence was lifted, but nothing. Were they just toying with us, building our hopes? Then came the Telegraph article arrived like a ray of light breaking the sky on the stormiest night. Could this be true -Friday we will know, Friday the announcement we've been yearning to hear will be released. So what will we know? Will it be DOR, will it be head coach or will we be spoilt and get both? Well apparently both!!!!!
In an article releasing that Mike Catt is confirmed to be taking on the role of Andy Farrell with England during the tour of south Africa. There was a snippet at the bottom showing that this Friday will see Gary Gold signing up as the new DOR at Bath! With this breaking bit of news came the added bonus that Gold is to announce he's got a proposition for Catt to take on the head coach job on his return.
Could this be the news we've all been waiting for, is this the combination needed at the Rec, can they revive Bath back to the top?
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
As I sat wetting my whistle in my favourite watering hole yesterday evening, I got embroiled in a conversation of deep magnitude with a fellow of the elderly persuasion. Unfortunately this gentleman turned out to be a bit of an argumentative chap who appears to know best, but the chat led me to have a look at Bath's unanswered questions.
The debate, if I can loosely throw throw that around this, began discussing The Rec. For some lengthy period of time the Rec has been a huge topic and if Bath are to become the best; that ground desperately needs regenerating, but we all know this! The point I tried to make to my counterpart in the discussion is: To take Bath Rugby away from the Rec would be borderline criminal! They go hand in hand. Not only because of the stunning surroundings but the economic influence it has on the local trade. The gentleman in question, who is a season ticket holder and apparently a "man in the know" his words!! He is certain that in 2 yrs the marriage of Bath Rugby will be having a divorce and they will be setting up a new relationship with some floosey of a plot of land. This is when the debate slightly broke down to become more of a spat, his stated plot is Farliegh!!! My answer "not a chance". It's too far from Bath with no Bus route and making for some unhappy campers who travel to the games. After some heated words and threats of barring, we agreed to disagree, although I think I'm right!
My afterthoughts of this is why do we have so many unanswered questions at Bath?
- The ground
- Who's going to be DOR
- Who's going to be head coach
- Who's going to be forwards coach
And so on...... For weeks now we've had to endure endless speculation surrounding the coaching team. So many names bouncing about, so many people with inside knowledge saying they know whose got the job. And yet from all the countless speculations we're still none the wiser. I would believe it would be fair of Bath just to us supporters at least an announcement date and a snippet of who could be in the potential running. With so much mystery engulfing one club I've heard that Scooby Doo and the mystery team are on their way to investigate.
Sunday, 22 April 2012
With the indifferent season at the Rec drawing to a close and the fans focusing on hope and expectations for next season, there was one last outing left for the boys to undertake......bring on the Wasps.
The day would see the Captain Stuart Hooper collecting his centenary of appearances although this would not be the day for him to charge out onto the pitch leading his troop ready to to battle, no this accolade was presented to another man!
With the announcement of a huge servant of the club and a man considered as a Bath legend Mr Duncan Bell wcould to be retiring at the end of the season the final home game became a much bigger occasion. For Bath itself some form of respectability salvation of the season and to give the big man the send off he deserves. Also 2 other players who are drawing an end to their days in Blue,Black and white are Matt Carrero and Pieter Dixon so the hope of a monumental fixture was in the expectations of pumped up crowd, ready to exercise some fine voices with calls of ALLEZ BATH!!
A free family day to be be followed by Bath taking part in some pest control against Wasps geared up a lively festival atmosphere (although having Peppa pig and a Hog roast in the same place left some awkward questions for parents). With the relentlessly excitable sell out crowd taking their places baying for that long awaited win in what they refer to as their Mecca, the time arrived for the team to be led onto the park by the man himself met by an erupterous applause........Belly!!
To start Bath showed their intent in the game by taking it to Wasps. When a penalty was won instead of taking the three points from the boot of Olly they opted to kick for touch, unfortunately not leading to points but showing where their game plan was at. The pressure insued for a good 10-15 minutes but slowly the possession swayed into the opponents hands. With the general concesious starting to feel are they going to rue the normal all possession and no points again? And then it seemed the norm was going to become a reality. Infringements creeping in and the points being taken by Nicky Robinson giving Wasps a 0-9 lead going into half time. An interesting stat came out showing Bath have the worst penalty count in the league averaging 12.3 per game showing where the games have been lost in this campaign. As the half time whistle shreeled out the air of pessimism was starting to filter around, could we lose to relegation battlers Wasps?
As the half time pasties, pies and pints were purchased the thoughts were is there anyway way back or will this sum up our season. Well let's at least see what the second half has to throw at us?
Well it seemed something had clicked in the time out in the changing room as seven minutes in a over the line drops Mearsey showing again why we've missed his time off for injury. The dynamics were really flipped on their heads when up steps Eastmond, whose transition from league to union hasn't quite gone to the desired plan. Eastmond came on as a blood sub for Carrero and automatically pepped up the boys resulting in that man Donald crossing the line, suddenly Bath had a 12-9 lead and looked to be in control. Proof to how good Eastmond had been there was a disappointment when Carrero actually came back on, but this was very short lived. The moment had arrived........a mass subs change and enter the frame fir one last time on the rec..... BELLY!!!! A rapturous applause ensued and positivity flooded the park again. We also got to see Dixon run out for the last time down st the Rec, scene was set Belly, Carrero and Dixon all out for their final farewell to Bath's faithful. Then the dream seemed to hit reality as Abendanon crossed over taking the tally to 17 and the impetus riding Bath's way. Due to the Bath way they did let slip another penalty to which Robinson happily slotted over leaving Wasps looking for a losing bonus point.
Possibly the most talked about moment came when an unfortunate Sam Vesty made what can only be described as a schoolboy error. When he seemed to be a shoe in for giving Bath a rare try scoring bonus and stripping Wasps of their bonus point, he prematurely celebrated the score before dabbing down. The issue with came when Tom Vardell turned on the burners and caught him and stopping the score. The TMO was called into play although the answer was known around the ground, more embarrassing was the TMO itself awarding the not awarding the try sending confusion amongst all spectators. For so many you knew the discontent and abuse would ensue upon Vesty for losing the bonus point this would be in my eyes an uncalled for and wrong thing to do! Yes he did make the mistake, but after the first half performance by the team to accuse one man for a whole team is wrong!! I will now step down from my soap box.
When the final whistle was blown a cheer of jubilation filled the ground for the dream send off of a win had happened and Belly, Dixon and Carrero could leave know their last game in the city of Bath had been victorious!!!
Thursday, 19 April 2012
With it being such a mishap of a season do we have any players that would fit into Bath Rugby's top 15 of all time?
If you look back through Bath's glory days of the club it is steeped with players of supreme calibre which can only be pronounced as legends. You could run a list of names from Hill, Barnes, Chillcott, Spurrell, Ubugu, Webb, Trick, Dawe, Horner....... The list could go on for ever!
With the change from amateur to professional how many old school boys could stand up in the modern genre?
So the question to be layed down is if you could pick the ultimate Bath rugby 15 who would be your starters. Could any of this days squad fit into that 15 or any of them to be future ultimate Bath 15?
Ok give it a go pick your starting line up and see how many over fans agree.....
Monday, 16 April 2012
I can happily say I've been a huge fan of Bath Rugby for 28 years since the age of 5. Fortunately for me I got to make frequent trips to HQ to watch Bath win many trophies. But even through the rough times- professional transitions and a relegatation battle with Bristol in 2002/03 both finishing on 36 points, just a better score difference saving them going down!!! And yet I still follow the Blue, Black and white.
I may now not get to the matches as often as I wish, I'm not a season ticket holder, go to away games but I still follow and support! This does not make me any a lesser of a fan than others, or more than a short term new fan. What I feel is if you support your team you do it with passion, belief and expectations of success. You support and cheer for your team if your sat in the 6x stand, novia, terraces, pub or loafing on your sofa that's the job of a fan!!! There is no superior hierarchies nobody is more or less!!
But the one difference with a rugby fan over a football fan is respect for the players. After the picture from wembley yesterday seeing a man doing a Nazi salute holding his child whose flipping the bird, showed a scene that would hopefully never seen in a rugby ground. With rugby we all have our own opinions and believe we are top pundits knowing what would aid the performance of their team. If a poor showing is witnessed we'll voice disapproval and possibly point players who had a weak game. But what a TRUE fan does not do is to single a player and decide to publicly clog the man. A man who has been a talisman through their time at the team. If they've had a poor game so be it, there was also a few others who made mistakes, they may be professional but also human!!!
If your a fan support and cheer, even voice an opinion but don't abuse.........its an oval ball no round!
Saturday, 14 April 2012
In total I can honestly say this has been possibly one of the frustrating seasons for Bath rugby
There is a on paper good squad and yet still so many countless performances of poor quality.
Last night saw an important bout against Sale Sharks fighting for 7th place and potentially a European spot. So the expectations for a true dog fight were high!!
Coming up to kick off Twitter was rife with chants of #AllezBath and #ComeOnYouBath. And the first 20mins Bath came out the blocks firing and a strong showing looked on the cards. Then came a big turn, Andrew Sherridan recieved a yellow and a bermused sherridan walked for his early challenge on Nathan Catt in the line out bringing jumper Hopper crashing to the floor. So with an extra man and 3 points up their tales should of been up!! Not so 2 penalties to the good for Sharks took the lead and rode out the storm of being at 14. What followed was unfortunately what us Bath fans have been accustomed to in the 2011/12 campaign, a lackluster performance scattered with errors. You could say that a shakey and inconsistent display from a referee who just didn't seem to have a grasp on the match, and some may say not entirely on bath side. Bath through the game showed strengh in defence but going forward just seemed to have no dynamics and seemed to be very flat. The most unusual feat of this fixture came at half time when rather than go into the changing rooms to meet the coaching staff Hooper conducted the pep talk on the field! To me this was a show of lack of belief in the coaches. Fortunately Bath managed to pull it level at 9-9 and seeming to have it balanced up, but not so, a try awarded by TMO then conversion saw the hopes drift away. Despite a late challenge and a stampeed which was eventually thwarted by a knock on, the final whistle blew!! Final score a saddening 16-9, a good farewell to Edgeley park with one fixture left against Quins on the last day.
The usual blah,blah,blah post match interview followed but to me it just seems there is a lot of unrest and players just arnt happy with the set up and the end of the season just can't come quick enough. I hope next season will see a true regeneration and happiness in the camp.
I was saddened as a Bath fan to see the attack personally on Matt Banahan on Twitter. To blame an idividual for a loss is absurb and in called for, its a team game and there are 23 players in a squad and all play apart in a match. Theese so called Bath fans who feel the right to abuse I would love to see you play a performance of his standard.
Friday, 13 April 2012
With tonight fixture with Sale Sharks baring down on us at a rate of knots, I wish to raise a small question?
With the potential of either team fighting for a possible European spot, as 7th in the Premiership may come in play. Would it be such a huge tragedy if Bath were to have a season away from Europe? As a Bath fan this question may shock and bemuse a few, but for such a question I do have some justification.
I'm very much aware of what financial implications may come from not partaking in the esteemed tournaments, before everybody mentions it! But with a new coaching regime soon to enter the frame surly its time to rebuild and restructure, almost begin from fresh. Whoever the illustrious ones are who take the helm of this squad will obviously make some changes and break it down to their styling.
Yes there has been some unlucky retirements and I'm sure players will move or be guided away to other clubs, to which I wish them well. But I feel to to become the force Bath once was a strong, powerful and unified team is needed to be developed. Without the extra complications of any extra fixture concentration can be channeled into the Premiership. My feeling are I would rather see a reasurgence in the league and lead on to becoming a driving power again rather than a mediocre side meandering through a ropey campaign.
With Bath sitting 2pts behind Sharks and some big games to follow even 7th may be a big ask. Bath have to try and find their stride and take it to Sharks, Wasps then Tigers! Although Sharks other 2 fixtures are just as tricky with Gloucester and Quins to compete against. So in fairness there is lots to play for, but would that be for the best??? Bath rugby wins are sometimes the best feelings in the world so for the next few weeks we will have to sit back cheer on and enjoy the ride!!! Allez Bath!!
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
When I was but knee high to a grass hopper my father introduced me to this new phenomenal experience for which I would be eternally grateful, and start a life long Passion. It was my first trip to the Rec!! As a 5yr old boy I witnessed possibly the most magical thing and learnt 'this truly is the best sport ever'!
As a wee lad I was in awe of these players who later became what can only described the kings of English rugby, encouraging me to join Bath mini's to try and emulate my new hero's.
Week in and week out our usual Rec routine would be performed usually resulting in my brother and I leaving with a smile strewned across our faces that could almost resemble a 'chelsea smile'. With kick off but 45min away through the gates we'd roll clutching our 20 pence ready to purchase the usual white simple match day programme. Programme in hand there was one destination required for my father......the club house bar ready to wet his whistle prior to that all important starting blast from the ref on his whistle. With a cup of scolding cup of oxtail soup in hand, my brother and I joined the other small people, behind the try line, club house end infront of the advertising boards nestling into the grass. Back in the 80's there was no terraces there just first come best place, the kids scattered the edges of the pitch so to be able get the best view of the next monumental fixture.
Once position sorted a quick glance around to see what seemed like a sea of Blue, Black and White. Grown men adorned in the classic hoops of Bath, Chests puffed displaying their pride like a sea of proud peacocks!!
The next moment that was to come is when the true magic was to happen, enter the legends!!! Every time I was at the match never did I feel I'd witness a loss, such was the power of belief that filled the ground. So many epic battles I saw on that field, but as a youngster it always amused me to see the ball boy trot off net in hand to climb aboard his dingy to retrieve the match ball from the river!!
My first trip to the rec was in 1984 and I grew up watching such icons as Trick, Spurrell, Chilcott, Horton, Swift, Palmer, Barnes, Hill, Guscott to mention a few spanned across a dream period of Bath rugby. I feel I was lucky to be able to witness such dominance in a rugby era and dream of that recreated again on what I refer to as my mecca-The Rec!!!
Monday, 9 April 2012
After my last post I sat down at had a good recollection of the 'good old days'. I know with this now being a fully fledged professional era and the hay days of Bath being during the amateur period. But surely if we look back there must be some lessons to be learnt.
The golden period of the Bath days, where Blue, Black and white was the domineering force, and a squad of men playing in a field of boys. As the money was of no importance your main objective was to want to be the best, play with the best and ensure your band of brothers supported you in this aim. You would play with the Passion of the shirt you adorned and to play as a unified battalion. From position 1-16 (Bath never played with a 13!) Would be as 1 unit, that was the Bath way.
Theese warriors in the Bath Tricolor were a team for which the majority had been together for a lengthy time, a player would be true, loyal and passionate to their club. Can we say the same in this day an age?? Has a loyalty been displaced by cold hard cash?
For me I'm under the thought its time to get an 'old Skool' on the Bath issue and hit right back to scratch. Many moons ago a player would not be shipped half the way around the world, he would of moved through the ranks or be discovered in a local 'feeder' club. To take a 'natural' talent and emerge them in professional surroundings and elite facilities they could become an true phenomenon in the rugby world. If Bath were to truly harness the United team and enable them to run out on a more regular occasion the extra game time would only encourage their abilities. The Aviva 'A' league is a good basis but certainly not enough matches for a squad to progress. With an abundance of local team surrounding the city would it not be an option to arrange some fixtures against them? Local teams such as-
- Oldfield Old Boys
- Old Culverhaysians
- Stothert And Pitt
- Walcot Old Boys
But to name a few. For the local clubs it would be seen as a challenge to take down the Goliath tho their David. Whereas for Bath the option to scan for local talent for which the could develope. For the army of fans some more rugby for us to get our teeth into and revel in the growing form in the squad.
In short back to basics and development is a good step forward to creating an all powerful Bath. Surly its time to create the talent than buy the talent!! It will take a while to build, but I'd rather see them construct a solid team and miss a few years of European rugby than miander along performing in a mediocre fashion.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
With the departure of Geech and quite a disappointing campaign so far, there are just a few concerns about Bath Rugby I have.
Within the squad there are a mix of youth and experience, some new and some old faces. It seems that a few players just are underperforming. So with a new coaching staff coming on board soon will there be a clear out to bring new in or could we lose players? With such a shakey season could some of the new signings who have shone through may feel all their work has been in vain. With inspiring signings such as Attwood and Caldwell to name 2, they could be tempted to say goodbye. why should they put in so much effort when the likes of Donald, this huge name signing, have failed to live up to their billing. I think Bath need to build a squad no look for the big names!!! Search the local talent such in the days of yore and get players with Passion not egos.
My main wish is that for this search for success they don't sell off the young and enthusiastic and ping for some big names. It would be a shame for another Freddie Burns situation to occur. Players such as Mercer, Heathcote, Cook etc stay in the colours of Blue, Black and White!!!
Thursday, 5 April 2012
The excitement that surrounded Bath rugby with the news that the British & Irish Lions legend 'Sir Ian McGeechan' was coming to the Rec as performance director in June 2010, was filled with hope and expectations. Unfortunately this never lived up to its expectations!
To much confusion he was brought over the head of the current coach, Steve Meehan. Meehan had brought a some silverware back to the Rec in 2008 with the European Challenge cup, and with finishing a close 4th in 2009/10 season the induction of Geech seemed to bring a bright future!! With Geech taking the reigns the following season saw Bath qualify for Europe but finish 5th. At this time it seemed there was a bit of unsettlement in the camp, this was true and it resulted in the loss of Meehan, leaving Geech to take full charge.<br>
What has followed has been a season of disappointments and underperfomance leaving Bath sat in 7th and looking bleak for a European place next season. What on paper looked like a phenomenal squad just hasn't performed and left many fans why??? And we receive no answers only apologies. As a result of the poor campaign it was released that Geech's time at Bath would terminate at the end of this season, pushed or jumped nobody yet knows.
So where now for Bath Rugby, who will now have the task of pulling off the resurrection of a flailing team???
One thing to be learnt is you can buy a reputation but can't buy success!!!!