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THE SEASON RESUMES: WHO WILL TRIUMPH?
The Premiership season restarts next month with preparations and the fixture list disrupted by the Corona pandemic. Squad makeups have been affected too- some radically, by clubs reducing wage bills and the early implementation of close season transfers. The runners and riders could either be stronger for the season run-in or weaker as a result. The current top 4 seem to be the obvious play off candidates, but who of these will win through, and what of Bath’s prospects of a top 6 finish? Let’s take a look.
CLUB, COUNTRY OR BOTH?
The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how precarious rugby’s financial model is in Tier One and Tier Two nations alike. This at a time when World Rugby aims to rationalise a global playing calendar to maximise the game’s commercial potential and at the same time reduce the tension between competitions at national, provincial and local level. The project brings multiple interests into conflict, creating a perfect storm. Something’s got to give, but what? And what would the man or woman on the Rec terrace prefer?
SILVER BULLET? ONE FANTASY SIGNING
In the absence of real rugby to discuss, many fans’ focus has turned to recruitment. Bath’s early June squad update brought three very welcome signings, but also news of Francois Louw’s retirement and 15 other departures – so raising a number of questions. Stuart Hooper has said “Our recruitment cycle has not completely finished yet” so I thought it would be fun to consider one “silver bullet” signing to complete the squad and improve Bath’s chances of a playoff place for next season.
COML Visitors and Revenue Stats
So how are we doing on COML? Some stats from June 2019 to May 2020.
BATH TEAM OF THE DECADE
For this article I have to thank Shipwrecked who suggested it (and did a chunk of the research). He saw something similar on the Gallagher Premiership website and thought it would be a good lockdown topic for COML. The premise is TEAM OF THE DECADE, based not on opinion, but statistics, the players who have made the most appearances per position, in the 2010-2019 seasons. Across the entire Premiership, 2 Bath players make that list. Perhaps you can guess who they are? The Bath equivalent XV is:
Bath Squad 2020/21
Bath Squad including Academy for 2020/21. Please let me know of any errors or omissions.
FIVE FANTASTIC TRIES
Watching Bath Rugby TV’s ‘Classic Matches’ series got me thinking about another ‘Famous Five’ topic – great Bath tries. We have been privileged over the years to see some outstanding tries, at the Rec and elsewhere. So, trawling the memory bank, and the internet, I have chosen five which stick in the memory. Not necessarily the most significant, or even the best, but all special in their way and hopefully will bring a smile to salve the lockdown blues. Here they are.
These Five Guys Were Unlucky
Looking back over Bath’s illustrious list of past players I found five who were desperately unlucky. Some will say that they were in fact fortunate, being able to play rugby at first class level, extremely durably in some cases – three of the five represented Bath for a decade or more – and sharing in 18 first class trophies between them. However, despite striking fear into opponents and becoming Bath legends they all missed out on international recognition. Here they are.
PAST PLAYERS; FAVOURITE FIVE BACKS
Selecting a Favourite Five from the backs I have seen enchant the Rec crowd proved no easy task. By my count some 60 internationals have graced the Blue, Back and White behind the scrum in my 4 decades supporting Bath, including 10 Lions and 5 World cup winners. A dazzling array of talent from a dozen countries have entertained us with slashing breaks, outrageous passes, dashing tries, audacious drop goals and impossible touchline conversions, not to mention equally impossible cover tackles and bone crunching crash tackles. But who stirs most memories? Here are my five.
PAST PLAYERS: FAVOURITE 5 FORWARDS
As the Covid 19 lockdown continues, I have been thinking about the many great players who have graced the Blue, Black and White. How to pick 5 favourite forwards from the stellar cast of the last 40 years? Easy you say? Far from it. For over a decade in the 80s/90s Bath boasted a pack feared even by Leicester. Internationals from all 4 home nations have trained and played at the Rec, 10 becoming Lions while at Bath. Others from Argentina, Australia, South Africa and the pacific islands have also graced the shirt. Any selection will therefore be subjective and likely to spark debate. Here are my 5.