Thursday, 31 May 2012

This weeks Chronicle articles on Bath Rugby

RUGBY England newcomer Carl Fearns was the guest of honour when Stothert & Pitt under-15s celebrated the end of a fantastic season with a special lunch at Adamsfield.

The young Cranes won 80 per cent of their fixtures in 2011-12, reaching the quarter-finals of both the Bristol Combination Junior and Somerset cups.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Nick Scott staying at Welsh!

Alex Davies and Nick Scott have committed their futures to London Welsh ahead of tomorrow’s Championship Final second leg with Cornish Pirates.

Full-back Davies scored 300 points this season and Scott, who plays on the wing, impressed after joining on loan from Bath in February.

Welsh lead the Pirates 37-21 and will appeal the RFU’s decision to deny them promotion if they win the final.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Louw named in the Barbarians side to face Ireland

Barbarians:

15. Cedric Heymans
14. Paul Sackey
13. Mike Tindall
12. Damien Traille
11. Sailosi Tagicakibau
10. Felipe Contepomi
9. Rory Lawson
1. Duncan Jones
2. Benoit August
3. John Afoa
4. Mick O'Driscoll (capt)
5. Cornelius Van Zyl
6. Mamuka Gorgodze
7. Francois Louw
8. Raphael Lakafia

Replacements:

16. Aled de Malmanche
17. Neemia Tialata
18. Pelu Taele
19. Akapusi Qera
20. Richie Rees
21. Stephen Donald
22. Isa Nacewa



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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Playoffs- farce or fair?

A hot topic at the moment is the promotion and relegation between Premiership and championship. The RFU guidelines say that even though it looks like London welsh are favorites to win the championship playoff final they are not eligible to gain promotion due to their ground not being up to scatch. Even though Welsh look to be the victorious side against Cornish Pirates, who also aren't eligible for promotion, the team who were eligible to go up were also the team who finished top of the league- Bristol. Bristol who share a ground with Bristol Rivers and have done for many years, should be aggrieved by the whole playoff system. I was always led to believe a league is award consistent performance and a cup is to award one off performances. So what is the championship a cup or a league? The RFU really need to look at this and reassess.
By the furore surrounding the fact nobody will gain promotion it allows Falcons to escape relegation, leaving them safe to continue in the top flight. The bizarre thing is before the announcement about London Welsh Falcons have announced a multitude of new signings, hinting they may of know prior to the RFU's decision. As we all know if Bath were in Falcons shoes we would all be happy with the ruling, as with the rec the way it is Bath would not get back up for some time. This does still not make it acceptable!

On the point of league winning Quins should be declared Aviva premiership champions as they finished in the number one slot. But due to the set up of the competition they now have to face Tigers in the premiership final. The favorites to take the title this year are Tigers due to a late show of form and now looking to take the crown. With the playoff set up as it is during the season your aim is to finish in the four to be eligible for the title.
To put that in to perspective take a look at the football premiership where Manchester's United and City finished on 89 points and Arsenal on 70 with Tottenham on 69. A large void of 20 points from first to fourth and yet in rugby on their ruling Spurs could of been crowned champs, how would Mr Ferguson and Mr Mancini of taken that decision? Of coarse that's only speculation as football is a different entity to rugby.
Since the introduction of the playoffs only two teams have finished top of the table and won the final, Leicester Tigers in three occasions and Sale Sharks just the once. The team who have gained the most from the system is Wasps, crowned champions four times without being at the top of the table. Wasps played the system fantastically in which three years in a trot they successfully picked up the trophy in 2003/04/05. The biggest losers in the playoff scheme is Gloucester who have finished in pole position three times, on one occasion finishing 18 points clear of Wasps only to lose in the final. The one time that Gloucester pulled off a victorious bout in the final was against Tigers in 2002, even though they did pull off the win Tigers were still considered the champions.

We as a whole seem to have learnt to accept the playoffs but does it make it right and a fair way to decide a season's performance?? Is it a farce or fair.......

Written by Bath Bytes
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Friday, 25 May 2012

England honour for Bath Rugby's Carl Fearns

Bath'Rugby's Carl Fearns will make his England debut against the Barbarians this weekend.

The backrow forward will run out at Twickenham as England start their preparations for the summer tour to South Africa.

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Fearns and Mears line up against Donald

Carl Fearns and Lee Mears will come up against Bath Rugby teammate Stephen Donald on Sunday as they run out for England against the Barbarians in the Killik Cup, kick-off 2.30pm

England v Barbarians

15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
13 Brad Barritt (Saracens)
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens)
11 Christian Wade (London Wasps)
10 Charlie Hodgson (Saracens)
9 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
1 Matt Stevens (Saracens)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3 Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints)
4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
5 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
6 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
7 Carl Fearns (Bath Rugby)
8 Phil Dowson (capt, Northampton Saints)

Replacements

16 Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
17 Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
18 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
19 Jamie Gibson (London Irish)
20 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
21 Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
22 Alex Goode (Saracens)
Clubs as at May 25



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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Donald starting for the Barbarians against England

Barbarians team:

Mils Muliaina, Paul Sackey, Casey Laulala, Mike Tindall, Ian Balshaw, Stephen Donald, Rory Lawson, Neemia Tialata, John Smit (captain), John Afoa, Mark Chisholm, Anton van Zyl, Ernst Joubert, John Beattie, Akapusi Qera

Replacements:

Benoit August, Duncan Jones, Pelu Taele, Raphael Lakafia, Jerome Fillol, Felipe Contepomi, Sailosi Tagicakibau


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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Post World Cup Donald!

It's not often the the player who nails the winning points in a world championship match isn't even in the same country the following season. After Steve Donald took care of business, and rescued New Zealand's world cup dream from the jaws of a French team that saved their best rugby for last - as the fourth string first five - he would have been forgiven for turning his back on Bath and taking up the vacant number 10 jersey in the Blues camp.

Thankfully he didn't.

To put it simply, he made the right choice post-world cup. His move to Bath did look to be unlikely for a time as the eligibility rules for overseas players in the UK competition meant the Bath Rugby Club had to work hard to secure his services. During that time he contemplated moving up the highway from the Chiefs to the Auckland Blues after new coach Dave Rennie bought Hurricanes play maker Aaron Cruden to the Waikato team.

Thankfully Donald made it to the U.K. While his awkward style of play, and inconsistent form in the black jersey has made Donald a much maligned player in NZ, we're suggesting that his move was the best choice because he'd earnt the right to finish his time in NZ rugby on a high. Despite the constant criticism throughout his career, 'Beaver' kept at it, with his positive attitude and self-belief...and was the last man standing when it counted.

No one could have foreseen it, but the Blues have slumped to their worst season despite high profile signings Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu. It might have been a different story had Donald played between the two, but the overall performance of the team and inconsistent selections by coach Pat Lam may have put an ugly finish on his world cup heroics.

The new All Black 'training squad' was announced this week, (with a few surprises) with the selectors going with the form of Cruden, reputation of Carter and potential of Wellington rookie Beauden Barret, at 10. Donald may have found it hard to justify a place in the national side playing for the Blues. Both Piri Weepu and Ali Williams could both count themselves very lucky to be included.

It would have been a shame to see the fairy tale finish as a part of the disaster that is the 2012 Blues, and likely missing out on the AB's as a result. So it looks like Beaver made the right choice, and capped off his World Cup victory nicely by heading overseas.

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Fearns keen to get physical with South Africa

Hard-hitting Carl Fearns is ready to take on the Springboks at their own game as he prepares for his debut England tour.

The Bath Rugby flanker knows the hard-nosed South African pack will take no prisoners on home turf but believes the abrasive, hostile environment will play to his strengths.

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Prop Paul excited by Bath ambition

Bath Rugby hope 'tough customer' Paul James will buttress their scrum after the Ospreys and Wales prop agreed a move to The Rec.

James, capped 34 times by his country, is Bath's second Welsh signing for the 2012-13 campaign following the arrival of Scarlets lock Dominic Day.

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Fans view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - 'What to do with the Rec?'

With all the embargo going on with the championship promotion happening, are their grounds eligible for premier standards. Lends itself to a topic of will the Rec ever be redeveloped or will Bath have to eventually move?

The Rec and Bath rugby go hand in hand since the late 1800's. As all fans know the ground and it's facilities are below standard for top flight rugby, but you still can't help loving it. Due to the capacity and facilities if Bath (god forbid) got relegated and the sought promotion in the RFU regulations I believe promotion would be denied. The topic has gone on for an age but still no actual outcome. Since purchasing the club Bruce Craig has stated he wants Bath to remain at the Rec with a top spec stadium, but hasn't ruled out the ground.
If Bath moved to another site I think it would be a sad day, but eventually it would have to be a necessity for the club to progress. I am confused by the people who protest against the Rec's redevelopment as the club have been in that site longer than their existence, so have always been aware of its use. On a match day the centre is buzzing and bringing in extra revenue to the businesses.

It seems a shame smaller clubs cannot seek premier status due to their grounds when Bath's is so poor. I for one wish to see the improvement of the site and see Bath become proud of the ground rather than it being considered a joke by other clubs.

Will the Rec ever be sorted or will the club relocate? I hope the answer comes soon.....

Written by Bath Bytes
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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mears and Fearns included in England squad to face Barbarians

Bath Rugby's Lee Mears and Carl Fearns have been selected in the 27 man England squad who will face the Barbarians for the Killik Cup at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 27th May, kick-off 2.30pm

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Fans view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - 'The Good, The Bad and the Horrendous!!! 2011/12 part 1!!'

Well what can be said about the 2011/12 season in the Blue, Black and White camp.

It's safe to say it's hardly been the most spectacular campaign for Bath. With the new signings coming on board at the start, the Rugby World cup and Six Nations the potential for a good season was there for the taking, and as Bath had few members involved in either event it left them at almost full force. As always positivity and belief were rife in the Rec stands,12,300 people crammed in hoping for those wins to roll in. A new era with Sir Ian McGeechan taking solo helm hoping to mould a Premiership winning squad and some hopeful European hights to hit.

As the season kicked off Bath sought to start as they meant to go on by racking up the win with game one beating Falcons 9-22. A commanding performance from Vesty saw him set up Carrero's try and take the other 17. Hopefully a sign of thing to come.

One win under the belt and confidence up step up last year's champions in the form of Sarries, sadly a cruel blow at the death saw Bath lose by two points 26-28. Bath's downfall in thus fixture was the penalty count allowing Farrell to keep the points ticking on as the scores alternated between teams. The harsh blow came as Farrell hit the upright with the last kick of the game seeing it drop over for the three points.

The disappointment of the Sarries loss must of rang true with a dominant display against Chiefs rolling out a 23-19 win, again a strong show from Vesty leading with the boot and tries from a powerful run from Hipkiss and a TMO decision for Catt. A late surge saw chiefs gain a losing bonus point as Bath relaxed and let them back in.

With two wins and narrow defeat to Sarries under their belt the trip to Gloucester felt like it could be time to show whose top dog in the west county. A story that will ring through the rest of the season was all territory and little points, failing to convert their early dominance. Six points from Vesty was all that was on the board for Bath where as the Cherry and White notched up 23 with Burns showing why he took the trip up the M5.

W-L-W-L an indifferent start to any campaign and three of those bouts being close shorelines, next step Tigers! Vesty struck the first blood with a penalty but failed to slot the second, his error in a pass gifted Staunton a breakaway intercepted try under the posts which he then converted. As the game drew on it seemed infringements helped turning the match into the Jeremy Staunton show not missing a kick and taking the score line to 6-16 until just before half time Attwood crashed over for his first try in the Blue, Black and White. Second half saw a well timed off load from Kane Palma-Newport to send Carrero over. With the score nestling at 20-22 a young cool future star step up and slot over two penalties and another from Staunton saw the game go to the wire. As the clock ticked down the dreaded moment arrived as Bath conceded another penalty and progressed to be marched back a further 10m allowing Staunton a 45m punt at the posts, with 100% kicking the Bath faithful had their hearts in their mouths then their hands in the air as it sailed wide. A close shave but a jubilant 26-25 victory.

Another win sees the pattern continue followed by another loss, this time to the hands of Wasps. A tough fixture saw Bath have two tries disallowed for being held. A day that looked like it wasn't going to go Bath's way. A try for Palma-Newport helped keep Bath in touching distance aided by Heathcote's boot, but seemed to always be chasing the lead. After continuous pressure a late try from Mercer saw a losing bonus point and salvaged what could of been a bad day at the office. Again close scoreline but this time finishing second 27-24.

The next two games saw something outstanding seven tries in each game! First up came Newport Gwent Dragons in their first LV cup fixture. As Bath welcomed back Matt Banahan for his 100th appearance a mix of youth and experience took to the field. After just two minutes Banahan showed his worth by setting up academy debutant Olly Woodburn for his first score in the top flight. Moments later a penalty from Dragons kept the Bath dominance at bay, until Banahan took his chance to dab the ball down. Dragons fought back to pull a try back and after 16 minutes it was 13-12 to Dragons. A lead held for a short time as Biggs slid over in the corner. Bath continued to out play Dragons for the remainder of the first half finishing it 20-16. The second half saw the dominance turned into points seeing Carrero, Spencer and Cuthbert cross the line. Heathcote kept the points going and 10 minutes from time saw another new boy Antony Perenise crash over from close range sealing try seven and a comprehensive win 16-46.
Week two of the 46's saw Worcester Warriors feel the force of a superb team performance. Another seven try haul saw a collective of well worked team tries. Any early well worked try saw a break from Cuthbert, unleashing Woodburn finally slipping an offload to Heathcote to run it home before slotting the conversion of his own try. Try to came from another debutant in the form of South African Louw after a series of surging drives from the forwards. In full flow now a true display of team work saw Banahan rack up a score. A loose ball scooped up by Catt saw him pick up pace before a slick offload to Woodburn who made a good 40m before Spencer took it on making a further 10m, quick ruck saw ball popped up to Heathcote who intern threw out a long loose pass which Cuthbert calmly gathered then releasing Hipkiss who allowed Banahan to sidestep the defender a making the score. Bath's tails were truly up now and confidence spilling from all members. A Cuthbert grubber down field saw Woodburn tackled off the ball resulting in a penalty, they thus opted for a scrum 5m short of the line. A quick pick from Skirving down the blind saw a pop to Cuthbert who happily sold a dummy taking the 5 points and the first score of the second half. A battling Warriors managed to claim their own try through Drauninu but seemed to be un vain. But Bath were still far from done with more in the tank. A high tackle on Louw saw Sam Betty receive 10 minutes on the naughty step, bath kicked for touch taking a clean line out. A strong pick and drive allowing Skirving's turn to score. With two more tries from Woodburn and Abendanon saw a true rout finishing 46-13.

Two jubilant weeks saw a very indifferent and close call game away against London Irish a week later. A very closely fought first half had the deadlock broken when Delon Armitage played Tarzan around Biggs neck earning him a yellow. Kick for touch giving a line out 5m out allowed Bath to rumble out a maul, quickly spun out ball saw Vesty take a gap collecting the five points un Bath's favour but sadly missing the two points. Second half saw Irish throwing the kitchen sick in and took two penalties for thier trouble. Some superb acrobatic skills saw Attwood beach the line and finally a TMO decision awarded the points. A penalty for Irish kept their points ticking over and 10 minutes from time saw them take the lead with another three points making it 12-10. But just as it looked over ex-Bath man Hape dipped his hands into the ruck dead in front of the sticks, which Vesty gratefully slotted over saving Bath to take the big 'W' 12-13.

A hard fought fixture against Quins was up next down at the rec. Bath were the first to cross the line but Biggs was deemed to be held up, luckily off the back of the scrum some hard forward play eventually saw Attwood crash over. Rapidly after a collection of pick and drives following a line out saw Robshaw clatter through, the conversion good added to the earlier penalty saw Quins 7-10 up. The second half saw three more successful kicks from Quins stretching their lead. Vesty claimed another two pens hopefully spurring on a Bath resurgence but Quins demonstrated why they were table toppers. A late Brown try of the back of a ruck saw them close the match out 13-26.

A trip north of the border to Glasgow Warriors for a Heineken cup match up was all not was hoped for. The much anticipated arrival of Stephen Donald came to a disappointing end. A bright start from Bath saw Heathcote pop one between the posts after only 90seconds, the half continued with both teams quite evenly match taking it in turns to convert penalties finishing the half 9-6. The second half began much to the same fashion as the first but Heathcote managed to regain the lead with two well struck kicks. On the hour mark a break through came for Glasgow's favour with Hogg seizing the initiative breaking defence and running in from 50m and Weir taking the other two points. Once again the boot of Heathcote came to the rescue slotting two more and being six for six, but after his last strike the much awaited appearance of New Zealand's Stephen Donald replaced the on fire youngster. With just 90seconds to go Donald had his chance to take 3 points and was successful. The following events seemed to be a catalogue of disasters resulting is Bath throwing away the game. A failure to deal with the restart saw Weir find himself in the pocket and took the drop goal attempt a nasty deflection and poorly dealt with by Abendanon allowed Gray to sieze the opportunity to score the try and left Weir to make sure with another two leaving Bath distraught losing 26-21.

It was the turn of some more Heineken cup rugby down at the Rec next as the travelling Montpellier came to take advantage of Bath's downbeat squad after the last weeks blunder. The excitement was surrounding the stuffed ground as Donald was to start his first home game. It was Donald, who was later to collect man of the match, taking the first three points after mounting pressure from Bath which montpellier struggled to contain. The pressure continued to flow from the Bath boys and after a huge miss pass from Donald allowed Woodburn to hit the gas and slide in at the corner. Unfortunately for Donald he couldn't take the full plaudits as his well struck kick ricocheted off the uprights. It now seemed the expectations were founded as Donald intercepted a Trinh-Duc pass a bolted 80m to the line, a scrambled French defence managed to halt his glory but Trinh-Duc illegally interfered, as Bath played the advantage a monumental occurrence happened.....Claasens flipped a quick ball out to the unassuming hands of David Fkatman who after 147 appearances for the club dropped over the line scoring his debut try! Trinh-Duc learnt his self a 10minute time out as it seemed Bath had their tales up. Containment clearly on Montpellier's mind saw them contain the home team and also managed to get in the board taking it to 13-3 at the interval. Bath again were first to add the points in the second half as Donald hit a superb kick from just inside the opponents half. A Montpellier attack saw Nathan Catt needing treatment so out of the action and what seemed a multitude of infringements, one if which a howler of a forward pass, missed by Alan Rowland saw the French side pull within six points if Bath. Followed up by a converted penalty the heat was certainly in the home side. Bath managed to hold fast and draw out the win just 5minutes after a returning Olly Barclay took to the field seeing his 10 month injury time coming to an end.

Five days later up at Sixways saw what was considered as the poorest display Bath had put out for quite some time and a hint the wheels were about to fall off! A first half saw a lackluster and directionless performance and were lucky to be staring down the barrel of a 10-0 score line. An injury to Atwood saw a large delay, but from the resumed play saw a lineout to Bath and after some time by the TMO saw Charlie Beech awarded his first try in Bath's colours. The conversion from Barkley saw Bath back in the tie and the hope was back in the tie. But warriors were not there to roll over and with two more penalties saw them close the match out for a 16-7 score line.

Bath needed to put their last performance behind them as they took on Sale Sharks, and it appeared they had the bit between their teeth as they battered the sale defense eventually getting the award for their effort in the shape of three points, Barkley slotting home collecting his 2000 point for the club on his first start back from injury. With all the possession and territory Bath's way it was only time before Claasens spotted a gap and darted over to score. With Barkley added the additional two point Bath went into the break with a 10-0 lead and looking the stronger of the two sides. With the second starting it seemed the initiative had switched sides and Sharks were awarded two strikes at goal thankfully only converting one, the ill discipline was starting to creep in and Bath were rocking!! This followed by more Sale pressure and eventually Bath could hold out any more as Cueto crashed through, with the conversion good it was sale on the front foot. Bath made the choice to freshen up the team by bringing on a swarm of players, this helped get them back on an even keel. With Bath's pressure taking its toll Barkley grabbed a further three points. Again Bath discipline faltered allowing Sale to gain two more penalties and for the first time taking the lead. With bath now chasing what a game they were 10-0 up the only thing on their mind was to go for the win. Throwing everything at the sale defence Bath earned themselves a penalty, a kickable penalty. Bath so insistent on the win opted to kick for the corner rather than posts, an error as the line out went a miss and the game closed out with Sale running out 13-16 winners.

After 2 loses Bath had a huge challenge ahead in the shape of back to back games against the Heineken cup champions Leinster. The home tie showed Bath were determined to make a fair display of theirselves and give a good account and refuse to role over and concede. A nip-tuck first half saw Bath dishing out all the pressure but to very little reward, a half time score of 6-3 not showing the true story. Second half saw the sexton show take over and the Bath penalty count rise. With it sat 6-12 Cuthbert had a break down the wing and well offloaded to Banahan crash over for the only try of the game, Barkley took the two points giving Bath the lead. Unfortunately as for many of fixtures this season Bath relinquished the lead by allowing Sexton to pick off two more penalties and Leinster ran out victorious leaving Bath to take a losing bonus point.
The return leg left players and fans stunned by the result. Within four minutes of the kick off Rob Kearney broke through to open the scoring and with Sexton converting Leinster were already 7-0 up. With Barkley scoring two pens split by a Sexton penalty Bath seemed to still be in touch only down by four. A yellow for Cullen should of seen Bath with an advantage, but it was not to be. A Fitzgerald and Sexton try a piece saw Bath looking like it's going to be a long day. Bath hoped they could find the initiative in the second half but unfortunately it was not to be. They failed to deal with the restart leaving Fitzgerald to sprint in his second of the day. To top things off the wheels then truly fell off, Vesty found himself taking a ten minute breather, allowing Reddan to take his turn to score. Six minutes after Vesty's yellow Biller joined him, so Bath down to 13 held of for two minutes before Ruddock had his go at dabbing down. A shell shocked Blue, Black and White found some form to see Donald and Attwood take a try each for which Barkley converted. With Leinster appearing to take the foot off the gas had one more serge 180seconds from time Nacewa gave them 5 more which Sexton duely slotted over. On the day the final word went to Bath with Ben Williams taking advantage of Leinster's slack defending to help salvage a scrap of respectability, leaving Barkley to have the last kick of the game making it a poor 52-27.

Bath looking for some positive Christmas cheer they travelled up to Franklin Gardens on Christmas eve. As always this season Bath started the brighter side taking 13mins to get points in the board through the boot of Barkley. The direction soon changed as Dowson barreled through but Lamb failed to convert. Suddenly Lamb was bossing the game with a chip through for Pisi to collect and offload to Wood to place it under the sticks, leaving a simple kick for Lamb. Bath's discipline has been a major issue in this campaign and now it was Abendanon's time to see yellow. Lamb added another three to the tally as saints were gratefully taking charge. No full back at home Lamb chipped through again ball released to Elliot to score Saints third try of the half. More pressure ensued and Elliot looked like he'd crossed for his second, but Lamb's pass was deemed forward. 19 points up for saints in the first half Bath were starting to look like it was going to be hard to fight back. They did try in vain to pull back the deficit containing saints who ended the half without a single point to their name. Bath kept pressing and with Samu Manoa and Downey sin binned a minute apart it left Saints short in defence allowing Louw to score, Barkley slotted the conversion and topped it off with another penalty. The final whistle came and to Bath's efforts came unrewarded with a 23-13 loss, not even a bonus point to show for their efforts.

Going into the Christmas break off the back of five losses spirit in the fans was low, but the expectations of the usual a Bath second half season revival were high. Could it happen........

Written by Bath Bytes
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Friday, 11 May 2012

Bath Rugby confirm pre-season friendly games

Bath Rugby's pre-season friendlies have a decidedly Welsh theme this year, as we host London Welsh (subject to Championship play-off results) then Llandovery and Cardiff Blues at the Recreation Ground.

London Welsh visit the Rec on Friday 10th August, kick-off 7.30pm, for what will be the first run out for new Head Coach Gary Gold's squad. The game should be an entertaining run out against the side who have reached the Championship play-offs.
Friday 24th August will see another double header at the Rec, as Bath United kick their season off against Llandovery at 5.30pm, and the senior side complete their pre-season preparations against Cardiff Blues in a reverse of last year's fixture. As with previous double headers, one ticket covers entry to both games.

In between the two home games, Bath will travel to the Liberty Stadium, where latest signing Paul James could be in contention to face his old Club sooner than expected as the West Country side do battle with the Ospreys.

And don't forget that rugby action returns to the Rec this summer on Friday 3rd August with the finals of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series.

Tickets are on sale now for all three events, and you can enjoy all three at a bargain price of just £25 with our Summer Sizzler offer.

A full price list, including the Summer Sizzler, is below, and you can get your tickets now by either booking online here or by contacting the Ticket Office on 0844 448 1865. Please note the Summer Sizzler can only be booked over the phone or in person at the Ticket Office. Full terms and conditions can be found online, standard booking fees apply.

Pre-season Friendly Ticket Prices:

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final
Adults - £10, Junior - £5, Season Ticket Holder - £10

London Welsh
Adults - £10, Junior - £5, Season Ticket Holder - £7

Llandovery/Cardiff Blues Double Header
Adults - £15, Junior - £5, Season Ticket Holder - £10

Summer Sizzler
Adults - £25, Junior - £10, Season Ticket Holder - £20

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Tom Bradshaw: Farleigh won't be for the faint-hearted

Before Bath Rugby's players scatter to the four corners of the globe for their summer holidays, I hope they get a chance to read Gary Gold's thoughts on the type of philosophy he wants to bring to the club for next season
If they do, then they might just have second thoughts about tucking into that second gateaux and instead pop into the hotel's gym.

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Lee Mears looks back to 2004 for hope for the future for Bath Rugby

Stalwart Lee Mears is backing Bath Rugby to pull off a 2004-style revival next season if the club's young guns fulfil their potential.

One-club man Mears well remembers how nine years ago Bath only avoided relegation courtesy of a superior points difference to Bristol.

But the following season, in 2003-04, Bath bounced back to finish top of the Premiership, only to lose to Wasps in the play-off final.

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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Exclusive interview with Toby Booth and Neal Hatley

We caught up with new Bath Rugby coaches, Toby Booth and Neal Hatley, recently to chat to them about the decision to move to Bath, and the challenges that lie ahead for them.

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Bath Rugby confirm signing of Wales prop Paul James from Ospreys

Wales prop Paul James, capped 34 times by his country, will be joining Bath Rugby next season, the club confirmed today.
The Ospreys loosehead made his debut for Wales in 2003 and most recently appeared for them during their 2012 6 Nations Grand Slam.

The prop, who can also play on the tighthead side of the scrum, has made 177 appearances for the Wesh region.

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Fearns and Mears selected for England

England squad for South Africa

Forwards (23)

Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints)
Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Carl Fearns (Bath Rugby)
Joe Gray (Harlequins)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Otago Highlanders)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Robshaw (capt, Harlequins)
George Robson (Harlequins)
Matt Stevens (Saracens)
Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (19)

Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Charlie Hodgson (Saracens)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
George Lowe (Harlequins)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)


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This weeks Chronicle articles on Bath Rugby...

Sir Ian McGeechan's fruitless tenure at the helm of Bath Rugby concluded with a dig at the referee.

As departures of rugby aristocracy go, it wasn't pretty.

"The officials didn't help and you need them to be on their game when you're at Welford Road," said the Bath head coach of referee Dean Richards and his assistants.

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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Vote Claassens...

Michael Claassens's fantastic try against London Irish at the Rec on the 1st January has been nominated for The Sunday Times Try of the Year 2012.

Claassens went over for the try after a great counter attack from deep by Nick Abendanon and Tom Biggs in the 30-3 victory over London Irish in the Aviva Premiership.

The Sunday Times' columnist and Sky Sports' analyst and commentator, Stuart Barnes, has selected a six-try shortlist of the best Aviva Premiership tries scored this season and rugby supporters around the country now have a chance to vote for the player who they would like to see collect the award.

Vote now click here

Gold looking forward to Bath Rugby challenge

Following the announcement that he was joining Bath Rugby as Head Coach, Gary Gold spoke to BBC Radio Bristol about why he took the job and what he thinks he'll bring to the role.

"I'm really excited about moving here. This is the heart beat of rugby in the UK – everyone talks about the West Country with so much affection and the traditions of Bath and Gloucester and Bristol, and it's well known over the years the role they've played in English rugby.

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fans view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - 'Welcome to the new Legatus Legionis!'

Finally all speculation and rumours are now done and dusted. Today we finally had the news we'd all been anticipating and expecting, yes the worst kept secret is confirmed.

After weeks if not months the rumours of Gary Gold coming to Bath to take the helm after the departure of Sir Ian McGeechan was confirmed by the club. Other speculative inclusions to the coaching squad have also been revealed as truths.

So without further ado I wish to congratulate and wish a good luck to the new boys in town. Mr Gary Gold, Mr Toby Booth, Mr Mike Ford and Mr Neal Hatley all coming to form an almost super group of coaching staff to link up with Brad Davis to resurrect Bath like a Phoenix from the flames.
As Bath fans we all live with expectations but also an eternal optimism. Our dreams of returning to being a dominant force in English rugby are alway obvious at the beginning of each campaign. This season it was far from the desired result. With such a topsy turvy season being rewarded with no Heineken cup rugby next year dealt a harsh blow to the hearts of the Blue, Black and white faithful.

With the new line up it us still unsure who has which role other the Gold who is the head honcho, particular roles are to be disclosed at a later date.

This evening Gary Gold and Neal Hatley took the time to respond to the well wishers on Twitter to say thank you and they are eager to get to grips with the Bath empire. This was a bold and very respected thing to undertake showing they have a passion to take the club forward.

We will have to see if the new collective are the men for the job but as always the Bath fans will show faith, belief and hope!

Lets hope the Legatus Legionis can lead the centurians to victory!

Written by Bath Bytes
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Bath Rugby unveil five-strong coaching team for next season

Bath Rugby will have a five-man coaching team next season after the club confirmed the shape of its new-look set-up.

Newly-appointed head coach Gary Gold brings former England defence coach Mike Ford with him following their brief spell together at Newcastle Falcons, while Toby Booth and Neal Hatley join from London Irish.

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Gary Gold interview (audio)

Listen to Gary Gold's interview here:


Gold confirms he is to become Bath Rugby 'chief'

Gary Gold has revealed on South African radio that he is to take over as Bath Rugby’s new coaching chief.

The South African returned to his Cape Town home yesterday after narrowly failing to steer Newcastle Falcons away from the foot of the table against all odds but, as predicted by the Bath Chronicle a fortnight ago, will return to the Aviva Premiership next term.

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Is this the coaching team line up to take over at Bath Rugby?

Gary Gold will be back home in Cape Town today – but his Aviva Premiership return could be confirmed later this week.
Bath are set to unveil the South African as their new coaching chief, filling the vacancy created by Sir Ian McGeechan’s departure.

Former England defence coach Mike Ford is earmarked to join Gold at the Recreation Ground, Press Association Sport understands, with ex-London Irish prop Neal Hatley completing Bath’s new-look coaching team alongside Brad Davis.

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Louw to the rescue for Stormers?

The Stormers have confirmed they are in talks with Bath to sign Springbok flanker Francois Louw on a short-term deal.

With loose forwards Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and Nick Koster all injured, the Cape Town side are facing a back-row injury crisis.

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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Help test the new Bath Rugby message board...

Help test the new Bath Rugby Inside Out message board.

On the right hand side of the homepage, click the 'message board' tab or click here.
Please leave a message, tell other fans, start talking about Bath Rugby and let me know what you think!

End of season Aviva Premiership table - Bath Rugby finish 8th

At least we finished above Gloucester :)


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Bath Rugby finish eighth in Premiership after final-day loss to Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers 28, Bath Rugby 3

The guts were there and the endeavour was there. But despite delivering one of their most spirited showings of the season, Bath Rugby went down three tries to nil against a Leicester side whose full-blooded muscularity eventually gave them the spoils.

A titanic defensive effort in the first half meant Bath trailed just 3-0 at the break in front of a packed Welford Road, but the Tigers pack ramped up the pressure and squeezed the life out of the visitors as the game wore on.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

Fans view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - 'Is anything possible?'

D-day is almost upon us!! The last Aviva premiership bout of league games, one bumper episode of matches to see who finishes where.

The main event will be the relegation scrap between Wasps and Falcons. A match that can see the Falcons rise like a phoenix from the flames and pull off a resurrection of a magnitude almost on a par with the reason we celebrate Easter. If Falcons secure their premiership status and sink Wasps to the championship it will only display the turnaround that Gary Gold has implemented up in the Notrh East, does this bode well for him as potential Bath Rugby DOR?

The game that may be of an interest to the Blue, Black and White faithful is a small fixture against a familiar foe in the form Leicester Tigers. This age old gladiatorial battle has always been of a huge relevance to either teams season. On this occasion it is Bath wanting and needing to be crowned victorious, a bonus win and a sale loss could potentially see Bath nestle into a 6th position. For all results to fall into Bath's lap would be almost close to a miracle although there is always hope.

Bath facing the Tigers at this stage doesn't fall at the best time but can they succeed in the face of adversity? Unfortunately for Bath a potentially weekend scrum due to injury could see an uphill struggle for the fixture, three very key players absent in the guise of Louw, Caldwell and captain Hooper will certainly make it a long day for the pack. The biggest challenge will be to contain the ferociously rampant back line for Tigers, their comeback against Quins demonstrated their strength and resilience which would concern any side in the premiership. Tigers are wishing to secure a home semi-final tie in the play-offs and produce their 10th victory in a row.

With Bath missing the captain and sub-captain, Hooper and Louw, the baton has been issued to a man who plays with so much passion and a future Rec legend-Lee Mears. Possibly one of the most passionate and gutsy men to take to the field could drive the rest of the team forward to victory. With there being a few player signing off tomorrow the hope and expectations for a dream send off will be rife through the squad. So can captain Mears lead the boys in Blue, Black and white out to a monumental victory at Welford Road.........here's hoping!

Written by Bath Bytes
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Thursday, 3 May 2012

This weeks articles on Bath Rugby from the Chronicle...

Centre Dan Hipkiss has delivered a frank assessment of Bath Rugby's season, claiming the club has collectively failed to adequately diagnose its on-field problems.

"It's all right saying that you haven't done well but you've really got to find out why you are not doing that, and we haven't," said the former England star, who joined Bath from Leicester in June.

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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fan's view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - '#getbathchanting'

I attended the Bath Rugby Fans' Forum the other night; I think the format is a great idea and it appears that further events are planned in future.

Hosted by Stuart Hooper, Brad Davis and Nick Blofeld, the event opened with an update on the Rec development, Farleigh house and the like, and then questions went to the floor.

Long story short, the audience appeared to be more concerned with accounting than playing; most questions were in Nick's areas of expertise than Brad's or Stuart's, which struck me as a wasted opportunity for 'fans'.
Indeed, for most of the evening Stuart and Brad seemed to be getting handed the microphone more out of awkward courtesy than because it was 'their remit'.
Rugby is a sport. Professional yes, but you cannot just reduce it to an endeavour in savvy expenditure.

Maybe I missed the point of the evening, I don't know. But anyway...

After events drew to a close, I managed to speak with Stuart Hooper for a few minutes, because I hadn't managed to ask my question. When things are going badly, can the guys tell the fans are still behind them?

For me, anyone who has seen - to name two - Gloucester or Exeter play at the Rec had no trouble finding where the away fans were sat.

Anyone who has been to the same away fixtures can vouch for the audible assault awaiting the Bath squad. Much is made of the fabled 16th Man, but can we - as fans - honestly say that Bath has one?

Yes, when Biggs gets the ball and slips into 6th, you can hear the crowd. When Perenise folds a runner in half, you can hear the crowd. When Abendanon makes 30 metres without a hair out of place, you can hear the crowd.
Whenever the ball is borne over the try line under the blue, black and white, you can hear the crowd.

But when things have ground to a halt, what then? Those god-awful, slow attritional rucks in the mud with both sides vying for success?

A few spirited cries of 'come on you Bath' get lost in the general clamour. It isn't the deafening wall of sound the Kingsholm faithful produce, as an example.

Bath's crowd needs a call. Something that the team can hear and know that the noise is for them and them alone. It's been said before, and I know things have been tried. The problem is, we don't have a hook - a la Chiefs or Saints - and a monosyllabic home city doesn't feel right off the tongue.
So let's get our collective heads together. Let's see if we can get organised for next season. Let's be part of the change we all want to see in the club's fortunes.

Let's be the 16th man. Let's make the psychological 'fortress Rec' that was spoken of at the start of the season.

Let's #getbathchanting.

Oh, and Stuart reckoned yes. But I still think there's room for improvement.

Abuse me on twitter - @roperpg

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Fans view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - 'Brace yourselves.....it's Tigers v Bath time!!!'

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 in 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.

Written by Bath Bytes
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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Biggs and McMillan extend their stay at Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce that Tom Biggs and Mark McMillan have both extended their contracts with the Club, seeing them stay until 2014 and 2013 respectively.

Biggs has been a livewire for Bath, being the Club's top try scorer this season, and scooping both the "Best Back" and "Supporters' Player of the Year" awards at the Annual Awards Dinner recently.

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Fan's view on Bath Rugby Inside Out - '... A reply to The Inside Man'

Wow, I feel that at reply (to this article) from someone slightly more grounded in real life may be in order:

What can you say about Bath Rugby’s 2011/2012 season, well enormous disappointment from all concerned from fans to players alike. I’m not going to endlessly regurgitate the reasons and excuses that we all have heard and said a thousand times this season. We had a bad old time of it and not one sole reason caused this, lets hope, as we always do, that next season will bring the entertainment and success we all crave.

However the pompous comments regarding Mr Craig, I can’t let pass without a small retort:
Bruce Craig owns Bath Rugby, he is the “top dog” so like it or not what he says goes, if he wants to put Timmy Mallet in as Director of Rugby, there is not a thing you, I or any other of the Bath faithful can do about it!!

The pure arrogance of seeming to know what Mr Craig’s thoughts, ideas and general plan for Bath Rugby is astounding and stating inside knowledge is just a huge “cop out” to spread unsubstantiated malicious gossip. The man is proven to be an extremely successful businessman and also passionate about the game we all love, (remember that? the love of rugby!) so where does the conspiracy theory come from that he is here just to ruin the Club because it is his new play set and can do as he likes!

I think we are lucky to have Mr Craig as our patron, just cast your eyes East to see the horrible situation Wasps are in, not something I would relish happening to Bath Rugby!!

I think things will come good, Mr Craig is no fool and will want to succeed in his latest objective and I feel with our backing as FAITHFUL Bath Rugby supporters and not just turning on the next easy target we will achieve a new generation of excitement, great rugby and fingers crossed some silverware. Belief.

And posting anonymously is gut-less, so I put my twitter name to this @stevethurbs

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