Bath Rugby

Not to be confused with Bath City F.C..
Bath Rugby
Full name Bath Rugby
Union Rugby Football Union
Founded 1865 (1865)
Location Bath, England
Ground(s) The Recreation Ground (Capacity: 14,509)
Chairman Bruce Craig
Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder
Coach(es) Tabai Matson
Captain(s) Guy Mercer
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2015–16 9th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Bath Rugby (also known as just Bath) is an English professional rugby union club in Bath, Somerset. They play in the Aviva Premiership league. The club has won England's domestic competition, the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup.

Founded in 1865 as Bath Football Club, they are one of the oldest and most successful rugby clubs. The club plays at the Recreation Ground.


Amateur era

Bath Football Club is one of the oldest clubs in existence, having been founded in 1865 by members of Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath (founded 1825) for 'something to do in the winter'.[1] This is the reason why the club colours of the two clubs are identical. With an original home base at North Parade, Bath then led a nomadic existence during the 1800s playing at Claverton Down, Lambridge Meadows, Taylor's Field and Henrietta Park. They then leased a plot of land at Pulteney Meadow where today's Rec stands. With most games played against local opposition: Weston-super-Mare, Gloucester, Clifton and the "Arabs" from Bristol. By the 1890s, Welsh clubs were starting to become regular opponents, with Cardiff and Penarth regularly appearing in the fixture list. With a traditionally lightweight pack, they would suffer regular defeats. The club played its first fixture against overseas opposition in 1907, as Racing Club de Bordelais crossed the Channel to play at the Rec. 1954 saw a first overseas tour by Bath, who beat the French teams St. Claude (23–3). Givors (9–6) and Tour du Pin (17–0).

The trip was repeated the following year with wins against St. Claude (13–8), Dijon (14–0) and Macon (8–3) as Captain Peter Sibley was the first to develop the ethos for fast, attacking rugby in the Sixties.

With six-foot four-inch players such as England international back row David Gay, Peter Heindorff, Sibley had players with physique to impose this style of play. With the mercurial John Horton and the incisive Mike Beese, the side continued to develop Bath's reputation in the early Seventies with wins over the top Welsh sides. However, the revolution began with the arrival of coach Jack Rowell in 1978. Rowell transformed the ethos of a club that had traditionally drawn its players from the immediate locality. When formalised competitions started in the 1980s Jack Rowell brought premature professionalism to Bath and began to assemble a side with power and precision. The power, provided by Gareth Chilcott and Roger Spurrell was complemented by the precision of John Horton and winger David Trick.

By 1984, the first of ten knock-out cup successes had been achieved, at the expense of Bristol. Bath dominated the John Player Cup winning it four years on a trot, from 1984 to 1987. The cup sponsor changed to Pilkington, and Bath after a blip in 1988 dominated that cup as well winning it a further six times.

The formal league structure started in 1987 and Bath dominated the early years of the competition winning six times in eight years and doing the "double" four times. Bath were an unstoppable force in 1988–89 and ran away with the league title, winning the first ten of their eleven league matches. Their only defeat was at Leicester in the last game of the season, when Bath, with the title already won, rested several key players. The two sides met again a week later in the Pilkington Cup final at Twickenham which Bath won 10–6 to become the first English club to wrap up the double of winning both League and Cup.

1990 saw the last of six consecutive Twickenham final wins, defeating Gloucester 48–6.

1993–94 saw a unique "Grand Slam" of titles. In addition to the league (played on a home and away basis for the first time), the team won the Pilkington Cup (beating Leicester, with tries from Tony Swift and a youthful Mike Catt), the Middlesex Sevens (beating Orrell in the Final) and the Worthington Tens. Arguably the most "professional" amateur club side in English history, Bath has struggled to match the achievements of the Eighties and early Nineties, after which, other clubs started paying their players making an even playing field.

In May 1996, Bath Rugby and Wigan RLFC made history by playing against each other at both codes. The first match was at Maine Road, Manchester under League rules – result Wigan 82 Bath 6; then two weeks later the return match under Union rules was held at Twickenham – result Bath 44 Wigan 19.

Professional era

Jack Rowell's departure (to take control of the England team) in 1995 and rugby union becoming a professional sport in 1996 has seen Bath struggle to find consistency either on or off the field. With regular changes in the coaching staff (including Andy Robinson's appointment as England's Head Coach) and with a seemingly steady turnaround of players, the formula that led to past successes is still being sought. However, Bath captained by Andy Nicol still managed to be the first British club to lift the Heineken Cup, in the 1997–1998 season. Bath beat French club Brive 19–18 in an exciting final in Bordeaux with Jon Callard scoring all the points for Bath.

Despite European glory, Bath slumped to sixth in the league the next season. In the disastrous league campaign of 2002–03, relegation was avoided by only a single point on the last day.

Having narrowly avoided relegation and merger with bitter rivals Bristol in the 2002–03 season, the club invested heavily in its squad, with no fewer than 15 changes in personnel during the summer of 2003. Jack Rowell and Michael Foley recruited wisely and the appointment of John Connolly as Head Coach helped gel the players into a formidable unit and the team ended the regular season at the top of the table six points clear of Wasps, but lost in the play-off final match at Twickenham.

Bath finished 4th at the end of the 2004–05 season. The club reached the Powergen Cup final after a dramatic extra-time try by Andy Williams in the semi-final against Gloucester, but lost to Leeds at Twickenham after a poor display. The pack continued to dominate but, with a backline once again decimated by injuries, many bemoaned the 10-man rugby displayed by Bath. Two players, Matt Stevens and Danny Grewcock, were selected for the Lions tour to New Zealand.

By the end of the 2004–05 season, Coach John Connolly had announced his intention to return to his native Australia, having created one of the most dominant packs in club rugby. The appointment of ex-England National Academy Manager Brian Ashton as the new Head Coach was announced in November 2005, and marked the return of the popular coach, who helped lead Bath to six league titles and six cup titles between 1989 and 1996. In May 2006, rumours of Ashton's return to the England coaching setup were rife. These rumours were confirmed on 25 May 2006, when Bath agreed to release Ashton from his contract for an undisclosed compensatory figure, to return to the RFU fold as Attack Coach for the England team.

Well known Bath players from the recent history of the club include Jeremy Guscott; Dan Lyle, one of the first Americans to play regularly in Britain; England captain Phil de Glanville; and Andy Robinson, an assistant coach of the Rugby World Cup – winning England side, who went on to be the England team's head coach and head coach of Scotland.

Throughout the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons, Bath Rugby played in the Heineken Cup – a European cup tournament. In 2006 they controversially defeated Leicester Tigers in the quarter finals at a sold out Walkers' Stadium in Leicester, being reduced to 13 men for the last ten minutes of the match for continual infringements at the scrummage. Bath then went on to lose the semi-finals against Biarritz. As they finished 9th in the league that year, Bath were ineligible for the 2006–07 HC competition, instead contesting the European Challenge Cup.

Bath were forced to find a new coaching team in the summer of 2006 after head coach Brian Ashton joined the England national team, forwards coach Michael Foley returned to Australia and skills coach Richard Graham joined Saracens. Backs coach, Steve Meehan, was appointed the new acting head coach.[2] His appointment was later made permanent.

In 2008 Bath won their first silverware in 10 years, beating Worcester to win the European Challenge Cup. After defeat in the 2003 and 2007 finals, it was third time lucky for the English team who ground out an impressive win over Worcester Warriors at Kingsholm. Outgoing skipper Steve Borthwick led by example and was a tower of strength in the lineout on his way to becoming Fed Ex Man of the match. Bothwick, who joins Saracens next season, was carried aloft by his jubilant teammates after a titanic tussle in appalling conditions. Worcester won the toss and opted to play with the wind at their backs in the first period. It mattered not as Bath dominated possession and territory in the first quarter, and deservedly took the lead on 15 minutes with an Olly Barkley penalty. Barkley went on to score a second penalty a drop goal and a conversion, but it was tries from Jonny Fa'amatuainu and Nick Abendanon that put the game beyond the reach of brave Worcester. Bath won 24–16.

On 14 April 2010, Bath Rugby announced a change of ownership and set out new plans for the future of the club,[3] including a proposal to create a new club headquarters at Farleigh House[4] and a commitment to build a new 20,000–25,000 seat stadium.

In 2011 the new owners brought in Gary Gold as head coach to replace the short-lived Ian McGeechan, who had briefly replaced Meehan. After a poor first season Gold was promoted to a Director of Rugby while defence coach Mike Ford became head coach. In December 2013 Gold left the club under unclear circumstances.

After a disappointing season seeing Bath finish 9th in the table, Mike Ford left the club at the end of the 2015-2016 season after an in depth review of the club was carried out, [5] Neal Hatley joined Eddie Jones with the England team [6] and Danny Grewcock left as Bath's Academy Director. [7] On the 28th July 2016 Bath announced that Todd Blackadder would be taking over as Director of Rugby and Tabai Matson as head coach.[8] This would see Blackadder reportedly signing a 3 year deal and Matson a 4 year deal.


The official supporters' club of Bath Rugby was formed in January 1997. The driving force was Jake Massey, who lobbied the club relentlessly once the game went professional.

Although working closely with Bath Rugby, it remains an independent club, with an elected Committee of 11 members with four named positions, comprising the Chairman, Hon Sec, Hon Treas and Membership Secretary. The CEO of Bath Rugby is also an ex officio member of the committee. The Bath Rugby Supporters' Club (BRSC) has a membership of over 1,000 and a fully drawn up constitution. Adult members pay £5 annual subscription, £3 for Juniors and £10 for family membership. Each member receives a badge and membership card, the design of which changes at the start of each season. Members are entitled to various discounts at hostelries and retail outlets around Bath, including the Bath Rugby shop.[9] The BRSC issues a quarterly Newsletter and has its own website.

Social events and Q&A sessions are held throughout the year, with an AGM at the end of August and an Awards Supper held at the start of the season in September. All members are given an opportunity to vote for the players they consider are deserving of awards in various categories.

The BRSC runs at least one coach to every away game and proceeds from raffles held on these trips are donated to nominated local charities.

The BRSC is the major sponsor of the Bath Community Foundation, raising funds by means of a shirt raffle on every home match day and a competition called "Two in a Bath", which is jointly promoted with Bath Rugby. The club also sponsors a young player each year.

In 2003 the Bath Supporters Club was at the centre of a minor controversy when, unlike the Bristol Rugby Supporters Club, it did not publicly oppose the proposed merger between the two clubs.[10]

Bath was the first rugby club to have its own supporters' fanzine, Everytime Ref, Everytime! (ERE), and this was then followed by similar magazines compiled by supporters at Gloucester and Leicester. The Leicester magazine folded within its first season but Gloucester's Shedhead is still going strong. ERE was launched in 1991 and continued until 1999 when its paper format was replaced by an online fanzine.

ERE was devised and produced by two Bath rugby fanatics, Glen Leat and Clive Banks. They wanted to produce something which was more in tune with modern sports fans and had a bit of comedy linked to it. During 1999, one of the founders, Leat, began to explore the possibility of turning ERE in to an online magazine. He subsequently launched a very simple site called ERE2000 in 2000.

As of May 2012, Leat handed over the editorial reins and the name of ERE, the new site being Come on my Lovers.


Bath play at the Recreation Ground, also known as "The Rec". The stadium is in the centre of the city, next to the River Avon. For the 2009–10 season the ground capacity was expanded to 11,700, and Bath play all of their home matches there during the club season. During summer, the ground is adjusted to make it capable for holding cricket matches. This cricket field is used for local contests and by Somerset County Cricket Club for one match a year.[11]

Bath also plan to play one home game a year at Twickenham Stadium for five years between 2017 & 2021.

Development of the Rec

In November 2009 the new chief executive, Nick Blofeld, stated the club is now seeking a mostly seated stadium for 20,000 to suit modern professional rugby, with potential for future expansion, containing "restaurants and cafés, hospitality suites, conference facilities and good food and beverage outlets and other potential retail outlets."[12]

The issue of the charitable status of the Rec has prevented progress, but in 2013 the Charity Commission recommended a scheme to allow the club's former training ground at Lambridge to be exchanged for an extended footprint on the Rec free from the charitable rules. While a few appeals remain to be heard, the club is pushing on with designs for an 18,500 seat stadium, and intends to apply for planning permission in 2014.[13]

The First Tier Tribunal decided to limit the land available to the Club which has meant that pending leave to appeal the Club's development plans have had to be put on ice. As a result, the Club has put in a planning application to extend its capacity to 14,000 on a temporary basis for next two seasons to cover their 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015 [14]

After being successful with recent planning applications, the club has been able to increase capacity by 1,000 for the 2016/17 season onwards – taking the capacity to 14,500 spectators for home games. The works took place during the 2016 off-season and saw the West Stand partially demolished and improved facilities provided, including bars, food outlets and toilets. The new consents will last for four years and will enable Bath to focus solely on resolution of a permanent redevelopment solution for the Rec, without on-going debate around temporary stands during this period. Permanent development proposals are intended to be brought forward long before the expiry of the four year period. [15]

There has been talk between the club and local football team Bath City, although the talks have never amounted to anything.

Results and statistics

Heineken Cup / European Rugby Champions Cup

Season Pool/Round Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points
1996–97 Pool 1 2nd 4 3 0 1 8
Quarter-final Cardiff 22 – 19 Bath Rugby
1997–98 Pool 3 1st 6 5 0 1 10
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 32 – 21 Cardiff
Semifinal Bath Rugby 20 – 14 Pau
Final Bath Rugby 19 – 18 Brive
1999–00 Pool 2 2nd 6 4 0 2 8
2000–01 Pool 4 2nd 6 4 0 2 8
2001–02 Pool 3 1st 6 6 0 0 12
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 10 – 27 Llanelli
2004–05 Pool 2 2nd 6 3 0 3 3 15
2005–06 Pool 5 1st 6 5 0 1 3 23
Quarter-final Leicester Tigers 12 – 15 Bath Rugby
Semifinal Biarritz Olympique 18 – 9 Bath Rugby
2008–09 Pool 5 1st 6 4 1 1 3 21
Quarter-final Leicester Tigers 20 – 15 Bath Rugby
2009–10 Pool 4 4th 6 1 0 5 3 7
2010–11 Pool 4 3rd 6 2 0 4 6 14
2011–12 Pool 3 3rd 6 2 0 4 3 11
2014–15 Pool 4 1st 6 4 0 2 3 19
Quarter-final Leinster 18 – 15 Bath Rugby

European Rugby Challenge Cup

Season Pool/Round Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points
2002–03 Round 1 G.R.A.N. Parma 3 – 40 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 57 – 19 G.R.A.N. Parma
Round 2 Bridgend 28 – 26 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 38 – 10 Bridgend
Quarter-final Montauban 27 – 24 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 24 – 18 Montauban
Semi-final Saracens 38 – 30 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 27 – 19 Saracens
Final Bath Rugby 30 – 48 London Wasps
2003–04 Round 1 L'Aquila 11 – 75 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 50 – 0 L'Aquila
Round 2 Colomiers 25 – 32 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 26 – 17 Colomiers
Quarter-final Béziers 24 – 19 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby 26 – 7 Béziers
Semi-final Bath Rugby 29 – 15 Montferrand
Montferrand 38 – 22 Bath Rugby
2006–07 Pool 4 1st 6 6 0 0 2 26
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 51 – 12 Bristol Rugby
Semi-final Saracens 30 – 31 Bath Rugby
Final Clermont 22 – 16 Bath Rugby
2007–08 Pool 1 1st 6 6 0 0 5 29
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 57 – 5 Leeds Carnegie
Semi-final Bath Rugby 36 – 14 Sale Sharks
Final Bath Rugby 24 – 16 Worcester Warriors
2012–13 Pool 4 1st 6 6 0 0 5 29
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 20 – 36 Stade Français
2013–14 Pool 4 1st 6 6 0 0 4 28
Quarter-final Bath Rugby 39 – 7 Brive
Semi-final London Wasps 18 – 24 Bath Rugby
Final Bath Rugby 16 – 30 Northampton Saints


Current squad

2016-17[16] Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Ross Batty Hooker England England
Tom Dunn Hooker England England
Michael van Vuuren Hooker South Africa South Africa
Jack Walker Hooker England England
Nick Auterac Prop England England
Nathan Catt Prop England England
Shaun Knight (loan) Prop England England
Max Lahiff Prop England England
Kane Palma-Newport Prop England England
Henry Thomas Prop England England
Dave Attwood Lock England England
Luke Charteris Lock Wales Wales
Tom Ellis Lock England England
Charlie Ewels Lock England England
Elliott Stooke Lock England England
David Denton Flanker Scotland Scotland
Matt Garvey Flanker England England
Francois Louw Flanker South Africa South Africa
Guy Mercer Flanker England England
Dave Sisi Flanker England England
Taulupe Faletau Number 8 Wales Wales
Paul Grant Number 8 New Zealand New Zealand
Player Position Union
Chris Cook Scrum-half England England
Kahn Fotuali'i Scrum-half Samoa Samoa
Will Homer Scrum-half England England
George Ford Fly-half England England
Rhys Priestland Fly-half Wales Wales
Daniel Bowden Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Max Clark Centre England England
Robbie Fruean Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Jonathan Joseph Centre England England
Ben Tapuai Centre Australia Australia
Matt Banahan Wing England England
Aled Brew Wing Wales Wales
Semesa Rokoduguni Wing England England
Jeff Williams Wing England England
Jack Wilson Wing New Zealand New Zealand
Tom Homer Fullback England England
Anthony Watson Fullback England England

Academy squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Jack Edmonson Prop England England
Beno Obano Prop England England
Sid Blackmore Flanker England England
Levi Douglas Flanker England England
Zach Mercer Number 8 England England
Adam Hastings Fly-half Scotland Scotland
Rory Jennings Fly-half England England
Harry Davies Wing Wales Wales
Liam Forsyth Wing England England
Darren Atkins Fullback England England

Club Captains

Only includes players appointed Club Captain for the season. Individual game captains excluded.

Coaching staff


Academy Staff

Current kit

The kit is supplied by Canterbury. On the front of the shirt, Dyson is at the centre with Novia on the far top left and the far top right. Jaffa appears on the left sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Thatchers is at the top with Hiho on top of the squad number and BMT at the bottom. On the back of the shorts, Dyson (who is also at the centre on the front of the shirt) is on the top while on the bottom, Gem is on the left and Kinetica is on the right.


External links

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