Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby (also known as just Bath) is an English professional rugby union club in Bath, Somerset. They play in the English Premiership. The club has won England's domestic competition, the Premiership Rugby Cup, the Heineken Cup, and the European Challenge Cup.

Bath Rugby
Full nameBath Rugby
UnionSomerset RFU
Founded1865 (1865)
LocationBath, Somerset, England
Ground(s)The Recreation Ground (Capacity: 14,500)
ChairmanBruce Craig
CEOTarquin McDonald (MD)
Director of RugbyStuart Hooper
Captain(s)Matt Garvey
League(s)English Premiership
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

The club was founded in 1865 as Bath Football Club. The club plays at the Recreation Ground.


Amateur era

Bath Football Club is one of the oldest clubs in existence, having been founded in 1865 by members of Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath (founded 1825) for 'something to do in the winter'.[1] This is the reason why the club colours of the two clubs are identical. 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. With most games played against local opposition: Weston-super-Mare, Gloucester, Clifton and the "Arabs" from Bristol. By the 1890s, Welsh clubs were starting to become regular opponents, with Cardiff and Penarth regularly appearing in the fixture list. With a traditionally lightweight pack, they would suffer regular defeats. 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) as Captain Peter Sibley was the first to develop the ethos for fast, attacking rugby in the Sixties.

With six-foot four-inch players such as England international back row David Gay, Peter Heindorff, Sibley had players with 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 wins over the top Welsh sides. However, the revolution began with the arrival of coach Jack Rowell in 1978. Rowell transformed the ethos of a club that had traditionally drawn its players from the immediate locality. When formalised competitions started in the 1980s Jack Rowell brought premature professionalism to Bath and 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.

By 1984, the first of ten knock-out cup successes had been achieved, at the expense of Bristol. Bath dominated the John Player 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 formal league structure started in 1987 and Bath dominated the early years of the competition winning six times in eight years and doing the "double" four times. Bath were an unstoppable force in 1988–89 and ran away with the league 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 Pilkington 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.

1990 saw the last of six consecutive Twickenham final wins, defeating Gloucester 48–6.

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 Orrell 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, after which, other clubs started paying their players making an even playing field.

In May 1996, Bath Rugby and Wigan RLFC made history by playing against each other at both codes. The first match was at Maine Road, Manchester under League rules – result Wigan 82 Bath 6; then two weeks later the return match under Union rules was held at Twickenham – result Bath 44 Wigan 19.

Professional era

Jack Rowell's departure (to take control of the England team) in 1995 and rugby union becoming a professional sport in 1996 has seen Bath struggle 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.

Despite European glory, Bath slumped to sixth in the league the next season. In the disastrous league campaign of 2002–03, relegation was avoided by only a single point on the last day.

Having narrowly avoided relegation and merger with bitter rivals Bristol in the 2002–03 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 2004–05 season. 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 2004–05 season, Coach John Connolly had announced his intention 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 marked the return of the popular coach, who helped lead Bath to six league titles and six cup titles between 1989 and 1996. In May 2006, rumours of Ashton's return to the England coaching setup were rife. These rumours were confirmed on 25 May 2006, when Bath agreed to release Ashton from his contract for an undisclosed compensatory figure, to return to the RFU fold as Attack Coach for the England team.

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 went on to be the England team's head coach and head coach of Scotland.

Throughout the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons, Bath Rugby played in the Heineken Cup – a European cup tournament. In 2006 they controversially defeated Leicester Tigers in the quarter finals at a sold out Walkers' Stadium in Leicester, being reduced to 13 men for the last ten minutes of the match for continual infringements at the scrummage. Bath then went on to lose the semi-finals against Biarritz. As they finished 9th in the league that year, Bath were ineligible for the 2006–07 HC competition, instead contesting the European Challenge Cup.

Bath were forced to find a new coaching team in the summer of 2006 after head coach Brian Ashton joined the England national team, forwards coach Michael Foley returned to Australia and skills coach Richard Graham joined Saracens. Backs coach, Steve Meehan, was appointed the new acting head coach.[2] His appointment was later made permanent.

In 2008 Bath won their first silverware in 10 years, beating Worcester to win the European Challenge Cup. After defeat in the 2003 and 2007 finals, it was third time lucky for the English team who ground out an impressive win over Worcester Warriors at Kingsholm. Outgoing skipper Steve Borthwick led by example and was a tower of strength in the lineout on his way to becoming FedEx Man of the match. Borthwick, who went on to join Saracens the following season, was carried aloft by his jubilant teammates after a titanic tussle in appalling conditions. Worcester won the toss and opted to play with the wind at their backs in the first period. It mattered not as Bath dominated possession and territory in the first quarter, and deservedly took the lead on 15 minutes with an Olly Barkley penalty. Barkley went on to score a second penalty a drop goal and a conversion, but it was tries from Jonny Fa'amatuainu and Nick Abendanon that put the game beyond the reach of brave Worcester. Bath won 24–16.

On 14 April 2010, Bath Rugby announced a change of ownership and set out new plans for the future of the club,[3] including a proposal to create a new club headquarters at Farleigh House[4] and a commitment to build a new 20,000–25,000 seat stadium.

In 2011 the new owners brought in Gary Gold as head coach to replace the short-lived Ian McGeechan, who had briefly replaced Meehan. After a poor first season Gold was promoted to a Director of Rugby while defence coach Mike Ford became head coach. In December 2013 Gold left the club under unclear circumstances.

After a disappointing season seeing Bath finish 9th in the table, Mike Ford left the club at the end of the 2015-2016 season after an in depth review of the club was carried out,[5] Neal Hatley joined Eddie Jones with the England team [6] and Danny Grewcock left as Bath's Academy Director.[7] On the 28 July 2016 Bath announced that Todd Blackadder would be taking over as Director of Rugby and Tabai Matson as head coach.[8] This would see Blackadder reportedly signing a 3-year deal and Matson a 4-year deal.


Year Turnover Profit/(Loss) before tax
2009–10 £8,832k £(1,259)k
2010–11 £9,613k £(1,820)k
2011–12 £10,291k £(2,790)k
2012–13 £10,617k £(3,777)k
2013–14 £11,772k £(2,975)k
2014–15 £14,634k £(1,106)k
2015–16 £16,869k £(1,201)k
2016–17 £18,576k £(2,567)k
2017–18 £19,806k £(3,149)k


The official supporters' club of Bath Rugby was formed in January 1997.


Bath play at the Recreation Ground, also known as "The Rec". The stadium is in the centre of the city, next to the River Avon. For the 2009–10 season the ground capacity was expanded to 11,700, and Bath play all of their home matches there during the club season. During summer, the ground is adjusted to make it capable for holding cricket matches. This cricket field is used for local contests and by Somerset County Cricket Club for one match a year.[9]

Development of the Rec

In November 2009 the new chief executive, Nick Blofeld, stated the club is now seeking a mostly seated stadium for 20,000 to suit modern professional rugby, with potential for future expansion, containing "restaurants and cafés, hospitality suites, conference facilities and good food and beverage outlets and other potential retail outlets".[10]

The issue of the charitable status of the Rec has prevented progress, but in 2013 the Charity Commission recommended a scheme to allow the club's former training ground at Lambridge to be exchanged for an extended footprint on the Rec free from the charitable rules. While a few appeals remain to be heard, the club is pushing on with designs for an 18,500 seat stadium, and intends to apply for planning permission in 2014.[11]

The First Tier Tribunal decided to limit the land available to the Club which has meant that pending leave to appeal the Club's development plans have had to be put on ice. As a result, the Club has put in a planning application to extend its capacity to 14,000 on a temporary basis for next two seasons to cover their 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015.[12]

After being successful with recent planning applications, the club has been able to increase capacity by 1,000 for the 2016/17 season onwards – taking the capacity to 14,500 spectators for home games. The works took place during the 2016 off-season and saw the West Stand partially demolished and improved facilities provided, including bars, food outlets and toilets. The new consents will last for four years and will enable Bath to focus solely on resolution of a permanent redevelopment solution for the Rec, without on-going debate around temporary stands during this period. Permanent development proposals are intended to be brought forward long before the expiry of the four-year period.[13]

Au updated decision in December 2016 from the Charity First-Tier Tribunal relating to a revised Scheme for the governance of the Bath Recreation Ground, including the use of the Recreation Ground site, was said by the club to "re-open the door to redevelopment at the Rec".[14]

There has been talk between the club and local football team Bath City, although the talks have never amounted to anything.

So every summer the "stadium" is dismantled as it is located in a park. Meaning that the club are unable to have a roof.

Twickenham Stadium

Since the 2016-17 season, Bath Rugby have played an annual home fixture at Twickenham Stadium. The fixture; dubbed The Clash is normally played around Easter and forms part of a five-year deal to host games at Twickenham. The 2017 match had an attendance of 61,868, and the 2018 match had 60,880 spectators.

Current kit

The kit is supplied by Canterbury. On the front of the shirt, Dyson is at the centre with Novia on the far top left and the far top right. Jaffa appears on the left sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Thatchers is at the top with Hiho on top of the squad number and BMT at the bottom. On the back of the shorts, Dyson (who is also at the centre on the front of the shirt) is on the top while on the bottom, Gem is on the left and Kinetica is on the right.

Season summaries

Premiership Domestic Cup European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 Courage League Division 1 4th 30 N/A John Player Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A
1988–89 Courage League Division 1 1st 20 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No competition N/A
1989–90 Courage League Division 1 3rd 16 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No competition N/A
1990–91 Courage League Division 1 1st 22 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A
1991–92 Courage League Division 1 1st 21 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No competition N/A
1992–93 Courage League Division 1 1st 22 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A
1993–94 Courage League Division 1 1st 31 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No competition N/A
1994–95 Courage League Division 1 2nd 27 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No competition N/A
1995–96 Courage League Division 1 1st 31 N/A Pilkington Cup Champions No English teams N/A
1996–97 Courage League Division 1 2nd 31 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round Heineken Cup Quarter-final
1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 3rd 26 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th round Heineken Cup Champions
C&G Cup Pool Stage
1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 6th 30 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round No English teams N/A
C&G Cup Quarter-final
1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 2nd 43 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2000–01 Zurich Premiership 3rd 70 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2001–02 Zurich Premiership 11th 33 N/A Powergen Cup 6th round Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2002–03 Zurich Premiership 11th 36 - Powergen Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup Runners–up
2003–04 Zurich Premiership 1st 79 Runners-up Powergen Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup Semi-final
2004–05 Zurich Premiership 4th 58 - Powergen Cup Runners-up Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2005–06 Guinness Premiership 9th 46 - Powergen Cup Semi-final Heineken Cup Semi-final
2006–07 Guinness Premiership 8th 45 - EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool Challenge Cup Runners-up
2007–08 Guinness Premiership 3rd 69 Semi-final EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool Challenge Cup Champions
2008–09 Guinness Premiership 4th 65 Semi-final EDF Energy Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2009–10 Guinness Premiership 4th 61 Semi-final LV= Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2010–11 Aviva Premiership 5th 62 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 8th 44 - LV= Cup Semi-final Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 7th 53 - LV= Cup Semi-final Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 5th 67 - LV= Cup Semi-final Challenge Cup Runners-up
2014–15 Aviva Premiership 2nd 75 Runners-up LV= Cup 4th in pool Champions Cup Quarter-final
2015–16 Aviva Premiership 9th 48 - No competition N/A Champions Cup 3rd in pool
2016–17 Aviva Premiership 5th 59 - Anglo-Welsh Cup 4th in pool Challenge Cup Semi-final
2017–18 Aviva Premiership 6th 56 - Anglo-Welsh Cup Runners-up Champions Cup 3rd in pool
2018–19 Gallagher Premiership 6th 56 - Premiership Cup 3rd in pool Champions Cup 3rd in pool

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

Club honours

Bath Rugby

Bath United


Current squad

The Bath Rugby squad for the 2019–20 season is:[15]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Ross Batty Hooker England
Tom Doughty Hooker England
Tom Dunn Hooker England
Jack Walker Hooker England
Lewis Boyce Prop England
Nathan Catt Prop England
Christian Judge Prop England
Sam Nixon Prop England
Lucas Noguera Paz Prop Argentina
Beno Obano Prop England
Will Stuart Prop England
Henry Thomas Prop England
Will Vaughan Prop England
Will Britton Lock England
Levi Douglas Lock England
Charlie Ewels (c) Lock England
Matt Garvey Lock England
Josh McNally Lock England
Elliott Stooke Lock England
Josh Bayliss Back row England
Jack Davies Back row Spain
Tom Ellis Back row England
Taulupe Faletau Back row Wales
Francois Louw Back row South Africa
Zach Mercer Back row England
Miles Reid Back row England
Sam Underhill Back row England
Mike Williams Back row Zimbabwe
Player Position Union
Will Chudley Scrum-half England
Chris Cook Scrum-half England
Oliver Fox Scrum-half England
Max Green Scrum-half England
Freddie Burns Fly-half England
Alex Davies Fly-half England
Tom de Glanville Fly-half England
Rhys Priestland Fly-half Wales
Max Clark Centre England
Jonathan Joseph Centre England
Jamie Roberts Centre Wales
Jackson Willison Centre New Zealand
Max Wright Centre England
Aled Brew Wing Wales
Joe Cokanasiga Wing England
Levi Davis Wing England
Ruaridh McConnochie Wing England
Semesa Rokoduguni Wing England
Darren Atkins Fullback England
Tom Homer Fullback England
Anthony Watson Fullback England

Academy squad

The Bath academy squad is:[16]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Sam Elrick Hooker Italy
Arthur Cordwell Prop England
Simone Elrick Prop Italy
Archie Griffin Prop England
Kieran Verden Prop England
Rhys Davies Lock Wales
Oli Cattell Back row Scotland
Xavier Hastings Back row England
Tom Jeanes Back row England
Nahum Merigan Back row England
Player Position Union
Will Butt Centre England
Max Ojomoh Centre England
Gabriel Hamer-Webb Wing England
George Worboys Fullback England

Club staff

First Team Coaching[17]

Role Name
Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder
General manager Stuart Hooper
First team coach Toby Booth, Darren Edwards
Attack coach Girvan Dempsey
Strength and conditioning coachMatt Pickard, Jameson Mola
Elite player development group coachChris Lilley


Role Name
Academy Manager Andy Rock
Assistant academy manager and coach development leadGeorge Tavner
Academy head of athletic development Ben Coker
Academy strength and conditioning coachAlan Murdoch
Academy pathway coach Ryan Davis, Mark Lilley, Louis Messer

Past club captains

Only includes players appointed Club Captain for the season. Individual game captains excluded.


  1. The Lansdown Story, 1975
  2. "Bath promote Meehan to head coach". BBC. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  4. "Protected Blog › Log in". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  5. "Mike Ford leaves Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  6. "Neal Hatley: Bath first-team coach to become England scrum coach". 28 April 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  7. "Danny Grewcock to leave Bath Rugby for Oundle School". 21 March 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  8. "Bath Rugby announce new coaching structure". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  9. "Somerset want to use The Rec for Twenty20 games". Bristol Evening Post. 4 September 2009. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  10. "Rugby club: We're looking for 20k stadium". Bath Chronicle. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  11. "Bath Rec redevelopment". BBC.
  12. "Temporary Plans". Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Bath Rugby Statement". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  15. "Senior Squad". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  16. "Academy Squad". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  17. "Bath Coaching Staff". Retrieved 4 June 2019.
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