Bath's New Boys
Boyce: Tough Boy
By P G Tips
September 1 2019
Bath’s first match of the season kicks off later this month. For many this is a “phoney war” fixture, to warm squads and fans up ahead of the Premiership start in mid October. Although many of Bath’s stars will be missing at the World Cup, the Premiership Rugby Cup gives us a chance to view the players who joined in the summer. Bath have recruited sparsely compared to some clubs without addressing fans concerns about the half backs. So who are the new boys and what can we expect?
Stuart Hooper points out that the heavy forward emphasis is deliberate. “The strategy around our recruitment has been people that can give us set-piece ball but can also generate momentum and create space for the likes of Roko, Ruaridh and Joe to run into.” He has chosen 5 promising young forwards to boost and add depth to Bath’s forward resources.
Lets have a look at them.
23 year old Boyce joins Bath following two seasons with Harlequins. A former England U20 international, he was a member of the victorious 2016 Junior World Cup squad. Considered one of the most exciting loosehead props in the country, he was briefly in Eddie Jones’ 2018 Six Nations squad. A “Tough boy, good chop tackler” according to Jones, he should help strengthen Bath’s scrummage as well as providing dynamism in the loose.
Tight head Judge learned his trade at Cornish Pirates where he impressed sufficiently to gain a short loan spell at Saracens. His form bought the18- stoner an extended stay in which he scored a try on his first European outing and appeared in the Premiership Final victory. If he brings anything of Saracens’ work ethic and team culture he could prove an astute signing. He is certainly humble and taking nothing for granted. "For me, ultimately I just want to try to get into the team and make sure when I do get the opportunity I'm making the most of it, improving, and hopefully playing well.”An impressive scrummager, who runs good lines in the loose and has a smart offload game, he could be an eye-catching addition to the front row.
A hefty 20 Stone, Will came through ranks in the Wasps Academy. The tighthead prop made his first team debut ahead of Kieran Brookes in the 2017/18 season after featuring in England’s triumphant World Rugby U20 Championship. Another thought of as a future international, he will hope to add to his growing reputation in the Blue, Black and White.
McNally came to the attention of Rec fans with 2 tries for London Irish in the final fixture of the 2018 season – an effort that gained him a place in England’s training squad. Skipper of Irish last season, he guided them back into the Premiership but has chosen to switch to Bath, a team he followed as a youngster. Viewed as the replacement for Dave Attwood, he has big shoes to fill. A Weapons Technician in the Royal Air Force, he brings rocket-like tackling and explosive rucking power. At 6’7” and over 19St he can operate in both the second and back row and should add considerable physicality to the pack.
Another highly physical operator, comfortable across both second row and back row, Williams spent four seasons at Leicester Tigers. Chosen for the England squad in August 2016, a broken arm ruled him out of that year’s Autumn internationals. Zimbabwe born, he came to Tigers via Natal Sharks (where he was U20 Captain), Blue Bulls and Worcester so has come through a hard school. Bath fans will hope he brings the hard -nosed approach of Leicester’s former glories rather than their limp form of last season.
So, while those five are evidence of Hooper’s promise to build a dominant pack.
What of the backs?
The only back picked up in the close season “Transfer market”
Olli Fox played twice for Bath United last season on loan from Yorkshire Carnegie. A Rugby League player as a youth, he is evidence of the growing influence of Former Academy manager Andy Rock. Olli appeared on the England U20 bench last season, then scored on his first start. Has played alongside Tom de Glanville in both the England U18 and U20 squads. He adds to squad depth at 9 but will have a lot to do to convince sceptical fans who were hoping for a big name signing at scrum half.
In addition to new recruits, Bath have added in “Home grown” players from the Academy- forwards Jack Davies, Tom Doughty, Will Britton and Sam Nixon were all announced as promotions after last season’s end. For many though, the exciting news is:
Tom de Glanville
Son of former club and England Captain Phil, Tom is Bath born and bred. He played for the junior section as a youngster and for Beechen Cliff School. An exciting talent with ball in hand, de Glanville has been with the Academy since the age of 14. He has played Fly Half, Centre and Full Back for England U20. Much hope will rest on his shoulders, especially from impatient fans frustrated by the mixed form of Bath’s 2 international fly halves last season. Miracles may have to wait though as early hints are that the club see his future at outside centre, although his all round skills could see him, like Henry Slade, try out a number of positions before he settles on his best at Premiership level. Undoubtedly an exciting prospect, he will need to be given time to develop so he fulfils his potential for the future.
With six Bath players expected to be away at the World Cup, plus any late injury callups, Bath will need this group for the start to their Premiership campaign. As well as the newcomers, we may expect to see more of some who made limited appearances last season, such as Noguera, Vaughan and Douglas up front or Atkins, Davies and Davis in the backs.
Of the newcomers I believe the biggest impression – over the whole season- will be made by McNally, Boyce and De Glanville.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:09:13:07:09:53 by P G Tips.
We need players who are available for every match of the season and who come on the pitch and who put in a shift and don't let you down with out doing anything necessarily spectacular.
Top 4 places are secured, in my view by winning your home matches and securing the odd win away at places like Sale, Worcester and London Irish.
You need a steady, strong in depth squad to achieve that.
Looking forward to us getting some forward dominancy as the season develops and these young men start to gel together.