• Established: 1865
• Stadium: The Recreation Ground [Rec for short]
• Capacity: 14,000
• Previous Titles:
2014/15 was about righting the wrongs from the previous campaign, after losing out on a playoff spot on the last day of the season by losing to Harlequins, who leapfrogged Bath into 4th place.
For many, last season was a vast improvement. Finishing 2nd in the league, and coming out top of their European pool, after losing the first 2 games was a giant step from the previous seasons. However whilst there was promise, there was no end product. Bath were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the European Cup at the hands of Leinster, and lost to Saracens in the final. So close, but yet so far.
Expectations? More of the same please and a little bit more if you dont mind… As a Bath supporter, last season was a breath of fresh air, watching the Bath players strut their stuff for England, and putting in some inspiring performances in both Europe and domestically, showcasing their talent to the rest of the world.
As it’s a world cup year, a number of Bath’s international contingent will be missing for the start of the campaign, depending on how far each country goes. As with other premiership clubs, it will be interesting to see how they will adapt to this.
I’m predicting that Bath will finish 3rd this year. Why? Because while Bath have managed to retain most of their talent, they suffered in the 6 Nation period, losing to Exeter, Northampton and Saracens, where they lost a number of their players to international call-ups. And whilst I think they will still do well, there will be 2 other teams that I think that will cope better than them with this scenario.
In Europe, they’ve been drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, alongside, Leinster, Toulon and Wasps. All these sides qualified for the 1/4 finals last year. Bath will be happy getting through, but understandably not too upset if they don’t, given the quality of the other teams in the group.
- Frontrow is very strong – key area for Bath last season. They managed to turn a lot of games by bringing on a replacement front 3 at the 50-60 minute mark and turning the screw on teams at scrum time.
- 10-12-13 – Has been the area that grabbed the headlines for Bath, lots of attacking flair with offloading / running rugby has produced some sensational tries and racked up some big scores.
- Back 3 – Lots of strength in depth – Tom Homer has been brought in as a reliable backup kicker, and a lot of the back 3 are pretty versatile, and can slot into each of the different positions. Watson and Rokoduguni will be hoping to carry on from where they left off last season.
- Second Row – Whilst not weak with the starting lineup with Dave Attwood and captain Stuart Hooper – there isn’t as much strength in depth for Bath as there is in other areas. They’ll be hoping that Charlie Ewels can make the step up this season.
- Scrum Half – with 2 in and 2 out at scrum half, with Stringer and Young heading off, and Matawalu and Evans coming in, Bath will be hoping the pair hit the ground running. Whilst they still have Chris Cook playing for them – and performed well in parts last season, his form dropped off significantly towards the end of the season, with Stringer starting the key games.
- World Cup absentees – Currently 9 English, 2 Welsh, 1 Samoan, 1 Fijian and 1 Springbok absent with the training squads, this will heavily impact the start of Bath’s season.
- George Ford
The Fly half will be looking to come off a successful World Cup campaign and to repeat his form from the last 2 seasons at Bath.
- Francois Louw
Bath’s favourite South African. Considered to be one of the world’s top opensides Bath have time and again relied on him to put in a big performance in the big games, and are rarely let down.
- Anthony Watson
Similar to Ford, will be hoping to continue his form into the league on the back of the world cup. Known for his electric pace and sidestepping, Watson will be instrumental to Bath’s success this season.
Up and Coming Players:
- Captained England at the recent U20 World Cup, who lost in the final to NZ, will be looking to establish himself in the first team, after starting for Bath for the first time last season.
- Arguably outperformed Wales’ Paul James last season at Loosehead, the youngster will be hoping to continue his fine form, and to establish himself as Bath’s starting prop. Definitely one for the future.
|Nikola Matawalu||Scrum Half||Glasgow Warriors|
|Rhys Priestland||Fly Half||Scarlets|
|Max Lahiff||Prop||Melbourne Rebels|
|Tom Homer||Fullback||London Irish|
|Jonathan Evans||Scrum Half||Newport Gwent Dragons|
|Jeff Williams||Centre/Wing||England 7s|
|Gavin Henson||Utility Back||Bristol|
|Mickey Young||Scrum Half||Newcastle Falcons|
|Peter Stringer||Scrum Half||Sale Sharks|
|Will Skuse||Flanker||London Welsh|
|David Sisi||Backrow||L Irish (Loan)|
This season will be about maintaining the high standards set from last season, and pushing on from there. A number of times Bath have come up short in the pressure situations of knockout rugby, and they’ll be aiming to avoid the same mistakes again.
A trophy will be Bath’s target for the season, despite the large number of international players absent from the World Cup.
What do other people think Bath’s chances are? Where do they think they’ll finish? Who has impressed you the most / least?