Roll on to 1865 and a group of cricketers from Lansdown cricket club wanted something to do during the winter months, of coarse rugby was the obvious choice and that was the birth of Bath Rugby. A bit of a nomadic team for a few years around Bath before finally leasing a piece of land at Pultney Meadows, later becoming the Recreation ground and the home of Bath Rugby. Almost 150 years later and Bath have become one of the most recognised and successful clubs in Britain.
Bath have certainly had immense highs and their own fair share of lows, with their 150th anniversary next year how are Bath shaping up going into their Sesquicentennial year. Last season Bath showed they are fully on the journey back to the top, unfortunately being pipped to fourth spot in the Aviva Premiership by Harlequins.
Despite losing out on the play offs Bath reached the Amlin Cup final, LV=Cup Semi Final and winning the Aviva 'A' league. These were very promising signs for Bath which has raised the hopes and expectations of all of the fans. As the new season rapidly approaches all of the jigsaw pieces are slotting into place to hopefully make Bath's 150th anniversary the "blockbuster season" it has been billed to be.
Stuart Hooper is going into his fourth term as club captain, supported by the players, who want to be led by him, a sense of unity is becoming apparent through the team.
The strength of the squad is ever growing, with many internationals from EPS down to U20's the wealth of talent is helping Bath become the force they one were. Losing a few of the Blue, Black and White favourites at the end of last season, Bath haven't drafted in too many more players, although there has been some notable signings. Future, youth and talent seems to be Bath's new philosophy. Whereas some sides have brought in a fleet of players Bath have gone with 5- 3 front row forwards - Henry Thomas (Sale) Nick Auterac (Saracens) Grant Shiells (Newcastle). The reliable full back Luke Arscott (Exeter) and the heavily publicised and position yet to be decided Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs). Recalling Chris Cook from London Welsh after a great season with the exiles will help bolster the scrum half role.
A concern for many of the Bath Faithful is the fly half spot, having potentially one of the best 10's in the country with George Ford, there isn't another out and out 10 in the squad. Within the squad luckily there is many utility backs who could fill that void- Devotto, Eastmond, Arscott and of coarse Gavin Henson. Tom Heathcote departing for Edinburgh threw many questions about the 10 spot, the main one being how reliant will Bath be on Ford this season? A question only the coaches can answer.
What else is helping Bath Grow? The new sponsor in the form of globally recognised local company Dyson. Having such a well known company but also a local firm is a great marriage that Bath will thrive on. Sticking with the classic Blue,Black and White stripes (which made a favourable return last season) this season will see the Dyson logo on the chest and a little comment underneath- 110,000rpm, on a ball, digital slim, animal and hot + cool.
The little promo video from Bath and Dyson was a little cheesy but displayed that there is good things to come from the unification.
With relentless hurdles being thrown in the path of Bath regarding the much needed redevelopment of the Rec, finally some good news has been announced. Bath and North East Somerset council have now granted Bath permission for a temporary extension for two years, taking the capacity up to nearly 14,000. It may only be temporary but it could be seen a very positive step towards those planning designs so yearned after becoming a reality. There has been so many thorns in Bath's side with the Rec and talk of them leaving the historic site has been growing, hopefully this will be the first step to keeping them on the Rec and playing in the beautiful surroundings everyone knows and loves.
A blockbuster year for Bath's 150th anniversary........things are looking good.