Bath Rugby
File:Bath rugby.PNG
File:Shield with foundation date
Club information
Full nameBath Football Club
ColoursBlue and black
Founded1865
Websitewww.bathrugby.com
Current details
Ground(s)
CompetitionGuinness Premiership

Bath Rugby is an English rugby union team that plays in the Guinness Premiership league. Founded in 1865, Bath Football Club is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in existence. They play at the Recreation Ground, also known as the Rec, in the City of Bath.

Bath has a strong rugby community and many fans share their love for the game on a regular basis by chatting about anything and everything linked to Bath Rugby at their supporters' website Everytime Ref, Everytime!.

History

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.

Most games were played against local opposition: Weston-Super-Mare, Gloucester, Clifton and the exotically named "Arabs" from Bristol. By the 1890s Welsh clubs were becoming regular opponents, with Cardiff and Penarth regularly appearing in the fixture list. 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).

Captain Peter Sibley was the first to develop the ethos for fast, attacking rugby in the Sixties - an ethos that still lives on in today's team. With six foot four inch players such as England international back row David Gay and Peter Heindorff, Peter had players under his leadership with the 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 some spectacular wins over the cream of Welsh rugby union in its heyday.

When formalised competitions started in the 1980s Jack Rowell 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. Bath dominated the John Player Special 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 Premier League started in 1986 and Bath dominated those by winning six times in eight years and doing the "double" four times. A feat yet to be attained by any other club.

Bath were an unstoppable force in 1998/89 and ran away with the Premiership 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 Club Championship 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.

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 Orrel 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.

Since Jack Rowell's departure (to take control of the England team), Bath has struggled 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.

Having narrowly avoided relegation and merger with Bristol in the 2002/2003 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 2004/2005 season and qualified for the European Cup in 2005/2006. 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 2004/2005 season, Coach John Connolly had announced his intension 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 marks the return of the popular coach, who helped lead Bath to 6 league titles and 6 cup titles between 1989 and 1996.

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 is now the England team's head coach.

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 www.bathrugbyere.co.uk.

Current England elite squad

Other internationals

Former players

Club honours

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