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Published: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:29:00 +0000

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:29:00 +0000

Copyright: Copyright: (C)

True Blue

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 10:57:45 +0000

Having seen off the challenge of red and black at the weekend, Bath next have two shots to pot the blue. Home and away encounters against Cardiff Blues in the space of six days should be the pivotal point of Bath’s European Challenge Cup campaign. Cardiff top Pool 4 thanks to a bonus point edge over Bath. To progress Bath must win at least one of these two matches and to be sure of a favourable knockout draw, victory in both will be needed. Currently Bath stand in seventh position of potential qualifiers, behind Gloucester among the second placed teams, so qualification is in the balance despite a full win record to date. Cardiff coach Danny Wilson has pledged a robust welcome for the visitors from across the Severn Bridge: “We won both games earlier in the season and we're top of that pool. We certainly want to go in and fight to stay top of that pool.” The ECC represents Blues best chance of silverware this season. They sit 7th in the Pro 12 (their average position for the last six years) so motivation will be high for a competition where they believe they stand a good chance.

Beware The Infidel

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:53:13 +0000

It will be a case of “beware the infidel” when Bath host Saracens on Saturday. In recent years this fixture has been a clash of rugby ideologies; Bath’s attacking intent versus the Saracens’ pragma. The conflict was particularly notable in the 14-15 season: first Bath, on a night made for percentage rugby, played their “deception plan” card, took Saracens on at their own game and won. The return at Allianz Park saw Saracens prevail by a 10-point margin in a match featuring three tries apiece. Finally, in the one that mattered –the Premiership Final, solidity beat idealism as the wolf pack defence swallowed and battered Bath’s attack – literally in the case of Anthony Watson who was forced from the field by a high challenge from man of the match Farrell.  Under Todd Blackadder Bath now offer a different approach, playing the percentages and attacking selectively from the best field positions, so the philosophies are not so different. There are still many reasons to beware, since the visitors top the table and Bath are about to embark on their most difficult run of Premiership fixtures yet. First placed Saracens, Second placed Wasps and Exeter – in fifth -lie in wait between now and the midnight chimes of New Year’s Eve. Defeat on Saturday could start an unwanted slide out of the top four. This will be the toughest home test of the season to date.

Comedy, Tragedy or Farce?

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:36:33 +0000

Bath’s visit to Harlequins next Saturday could explore a range of dramatic emotions.  The home club’s name and costume are drawn from the Commedia dell’Arte, but for Bath the current selection challenge borders on the farcical. Last Friday’s attritional derby against Bristol threaten further injury losses to key players. Any further injuries would be tragic for Bath and pessimists will be concerned that the match outcome will be a tragedy too. With Bath’s strength in depth an international weekend should be a bright time to visit the Stoop, Harlequins standing to lose Marler, Sinckler, Robshaw, Care, Roberts, Visser, Brown and possibly Yarde. However, international calls of their own and a cruelly growing injury list leave Bath depleted and vulnerable at lock and half back. Despite their own losses, Quins have plenty of Premiership and even international experience to call on. The Harlequin character is light hearted, nimble, astute and mischievous – the team will be planning to force a Comedy of Errors on Bath. So – can Blackadder and Co come up with a “cunning plan” to make the Harlequins dance with frustration rather than delight?


Mon, 14 Nov 2016 16:05:57 +0000

Will Bristol banish the blues when they visit Bath in Friday’s Premiership clash? The two cities are linked by a river, a county and a colour, but for the past 30 odd years it is the negative connotation of blue that Bristol have had to bear. Since the days of Jack Rowell the men at the mouth of the Avon have had to watch their neighbours rack up an impressive 18 trophies – including European triumph at both levels, while they have won nothing. In the professional era Bristol have been relegated three times to the Championship, most recently languishing there for 7 years, failing to get through the much criticised playoffs, despite winning the league stage in 5 of those. Much winning rugby was played in those years, but when it mattered they could only find a minor key and the resulting mood was consistently downbeat. The recent sacking of Andy Robinson only 3 months after being offered a new contract sounded a discordant note, yet the signs of recovery are already evident. While Bristol beat Sale last weekend to record their first win in the top flight for 8 years, Bath, overhauled and humbled, were suffering a rare defeat. A walloping at Parc y Scarlets is not ideal preparation for a derby fixture against a club fired by pride, renewed hope and desperation – so who will be singing the blues on Friday night?

Scarlet Fever?

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 16:34:52 +0000

Will it be “Scarlet fever” when Bath visit Llanelli in the LV Cup this Friday? The phrase was used by Max Boyce to excuse mass absenteeism in Llanelli the morning after the club’s most famous victory just over 44 years ago. On that great occasion, “the air was full of singing and I saw a grown man cry. Not because we’d won, but because the pubs ran dry!” This meeting will not match that famous occasion though. “Old Rivals Collide” is the Scarlets strapline for the latest battle between two clubs who have traditionally scrapped over a rag doll, but whoever wins the result will not echo around the world as Llanellis’ victory over the 1972 All Blacks did. An LV Cup game, played within the Autumn International window robs both sides of their international squad members and gives DORs the chance to rotate and rest overworked first choice players. Is the competition therefore of “low value” as some wags would have it? The tournament may have a puzzling structure and lack the star names of European or Premiership competition, but where old rivalries are rekindled, as last week showed, results matter: to team and supporters. So, who will be singing and drinking the pubs dry at 9 PM on Friday?

Tigers’ True Colours?

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 11:02:50 +0000

When Leicester visit Bath in the first LV fixture on Friday night, will they show their true colours? The Anglo Welsh Cup is seen by some as a distraction from the more serious business of Premiership and European competition and, placed as it is in the international windows, is denied the presence of international stars. Most clubs make it a time for squad rest and rotation. Some less familiar faces could well front up at the Rec as a result.  There is a further reason for asking what stripes these Tigers will be wearing. There is a change afoot in Leicester. The club who dominated the English game for a decade, appearing in 9 successive Premiership finals, did so with a clear and simple style. This climaxed in a humbling of Northampton Saints in 2013, launching 6 Tigers onto that year’s Lions tour. Since that victory, Leicester have failed to reach a Premiership final in 3 seasons. At the end of the 2015 season, DOR Richard Cockerill admitted that a new tactical approach was needed: shortly afterwards, Aaron Mauger was named as the new Head Coach to bring more fluency to the attack.  The tension between the old and new approaches has been plain to see since. More expansive play has brought some thrilling tries, but the looser game has arguably exposed flaws and created vulnerabilities. Games have been lost which should have been won and Tigers are yet to hit the heights they are used to. The fact that Cockerills admission was made after a 7 try thumping in the Rec sunshine will have rankled. Will this Friday therefore unveil the new improved Tiger in all its ferocity?

Test in the West

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:10:37 +0000

Exeter this Sunday could pose the most significant test of Bath' Premiership season to date. Of course this is a West Country derby, now more anticipated by many than the more traditional and bitter rivalry with Gloucester. It may also prove a defining weekend for Premiership fortunes in the lead up to Christmas. Two league positions and 7 points separate the clubs and Bath will want to preserve their top 4 status.  Leicester look likely losers on Saturday at Allianz Park, as do Newcastle at Wasps. An away win for Bath would therefore open up a comfortable gap between the leading 3 teams and chasing pack before the Autumn International window. It is also important for Bath to get a first win of the season against a title contender: most of the other victories have been over lowly or mid table teams. Add in the small matter of George Ford’s future. Whatever the truth in recent rumours, the outcome is unlikely to be clear in the next few weeks. A good win at Sandy Park would be a real boost for morale and an indicator of squad solidarity in the face of distraction. So, what can we expect?  

European Local

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 12:47:59 +0000

There will be a local touch to Bath’s first home European match this Thursday. The competition may be continental, but the rivalry intensely parochial: Bath v Bristol, two clubs divided by 14 miles and a recent gulf in fortunes. The two teams have not met in a tournament first XV fixture for 7 years as Bristol have languished in the Championship during that time ..

Venture into the Unknown

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 17:31:06 +0000

Bath’s trip to Pau for their first European Challenge Cup tie will be a voyage into the unknown.  The two sides have met before, as semi –finalists in Bath’s European glory year- 1998 -but for the past 9 years, Pau have been out of French rugby’s top flight.  Currently 12th in the Top 14 table, their recent form gives little clue to their capability. Capital of the Pyrenees- Atlantique region, the Gascon city is steeped in the rugby tradition of France’s south west corner. Many French greats have graced their teams in the past. Notables include Beauxis, Bernat-Salles, Traille, Cabannes and more recently, the inimitable Harinordoquy   These dashing backs and ball handling loose forwards suggest a heritage of sweeping attack, which is true. However, the club is also known for gnarled front rowers like Sebastian Bruno and the incomparable tighthead, Robert Paparamborde. The spirit of the Béarnaise, epitomised by these two, could prove sauce for a meaty encounter.

Sale Time

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 15:52:18 +0000

As they prepare to face Sale Sharks on Friday, Bath’s coaches face a crucial shortage. The need and the demand is enough back row forwards: the source of supply is increasingly uncertain. Leroy Houston’s call up to the Wallaby squad is the latest blow to a resource that seemed to be in surplus at the start of the season. Injuries to Faletau, Denton, Garvey, Mercer and Sisi and Springbok commitments of Francois Louw have forced Blackadder and Co to field a series of makeshift trios and rely on the flexibility of youth. News from Monday’s United game that Levi Douglas left the field early through injury only increases the concern. The coaches must wish they could buy, rent, beg steal or borrow a ready - made solution. The choice they make is the latest speculation about selection in a season that has seen eight loose forwards chosen for the past five matches: the same starting trio appearing only in two of those. Will Zach Mercer be entrusted with the No 8 shirt? Will Matt Gilbert, recently used in a United game, get a recall from Hartpury? How will Bath match the threat of a genuine openside in Tommy Seymour, the athletic Josh Beaumont and the growing form of Cameron Neild?

Donkey Derby

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:19:05 +0000

Bath’s first error on Saturday will be met by a cacophony of donkey impressions from the Shed. This reaction, the favourite taunt of Kingsholm supporters, is guaranteed. It also adds spice to a derby that needs no artificial incitement to enflame it. Always a testy encounter, this is the one players and supporters feel the most personally and one which has, in recent years, offered plenty of incident and controversy. The “Battle of Kingsholm”, a feisty affair of 7 cards which saw Gloucester finish with 11 men and concede defeat to a late penalty try, sticks in the craw for the men in cherry and white. Since then Bath have spoiled Gloucester’s Christmas the following season, but themselves harbour a grudge about the narrow home defeat Gloucester inflicted through controversial penalties last February. There are many other niggles and humiliations for both clubs –which only go to make the “eeyore, eeyore!” chant more delicious for Gloucester and more irritating for the men from The Rec.

Lions and Tigers.

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:25:32 +0000

Saturday’s visit to Welford Road could be the ideal stage for prospective Lions to show their mettle. Leicester provided 6 of the 2013 tour party and will want to be well represented again.  Since then one of the six has moved on, one has been almost permanently injured and others have suffered slumps in form. At least two of their squad though will be favoured to make the trip: Dan Cole and Ben Youngs. Bath have their aspirants too – although the one current Lion, Talupe Faletau will be missing though injury. Doomsayers among the Tigers’ fans are fretting that the club has lost its roar. After a poor showing (in victory) against Falcons, they are claiming a confusion of styles between the all court All Black game of Mauger and the pragma of Cockerill. They also bemoan a lack of classy and confident play at centre. Their solution is simple: bring back the nastiness! Never mind African bush or Indian Jungle: the Welford faithful like their forwards to be the sort of beasts you fear to encounter in a city alley on a dark night. In the modern game that trait alone may not be enough, but the traditional rivalry between Leicester and Bath should bring out the beasts in home players and crowd alike.

Beware the Warriors!

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 07:01:57 +0000

After dispatching Newcastle Falcons with ease last Saturday, Bath next face another likely Premiership struggler in Worcester Warriors. With two impressive wins to start the season, Rec fans could be forgiven for licking their lips at the prospect of hosting the tenth placed team.  Before any chickens are counted though, there is the small matter of fielding a full and fit squad. A mounting injury list up front pared both front and back row resources to the bone last week: the pack which faced Falcons being some way different from the expected first choice.  Faletau, Denton and Wilson will be absent for a while, and there is little prospect of Garvey, Guy Mercer or Ellis being ready for this weekend.  There is more optimism though that Catt and Thomas may be fit in time, while backs Bowden and Watson are in training and available for selection.  Squad depth and rotation have become a theme early this season- out of necessity more than choice.

A Fresh Start

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:05:38 +0000

For Bath’s new coaches and players a season opener at Franklin’s Gardens is about as testing as they come.  Victories over Northampton have been rare for years and the last Bath away win in the series was sixteen years ago.  Saturday’s clash will be a Premiership eye opener for Blackadder and Matson while offering a fresh start for a squad smarting from last year’s failures.

Join the COML Superbru league

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 21:01:01 +0000

Do you play Superbru's rugby prediction league?

Where will we finish this season?

Sat, 09 Jul 2016 22:43:29 +0000

So, is your cup half full or half empty?

Playoff Predictions

Mon, 16 May 2016 19:49:54 +0000

Bath’s season has been over for a week or more and this weekend brings the AP Playoffs. With the news of Mike Ford’s departure many of the Rec faithful will feel that other clubs games are a sideshow. So what on earth have the playoffs to do with us? Plenty:   ·      The performance of the playoff contenders should show us what to aspire to ·      They show us who to beat to reach that level next season ·      Starved of club rugby of our own they give us 2 more weeks of the game before the summer break ·      Opportunities for schadenfreude and “I told you so’s” if our bête noir’s fail   So, Bath involvement or not, it is tempting to assess the chances of this year’s four contenders. Here goes.

Time for a Tiger: Bath v Leicester

Tue, 03 May 2016 18:07:01 +0000

It will be “Time for a Tiger” when Leicester visit Bath this Saturday. The city of Leicester may have turned blue this week as the men from the King Power stadium celebrate their first ever football title, but the Tigers will not wish to be outfoxed by their neighbours. The visitors’ place in the playoffs is assured, but they will want a win to prepare for their semi final. In the unlikely event that Wasps slip up the Tigers could edge above them and avoid Saracens. The more probable case is that they will still finish fourth, but need the confidence boost of a good win before a trip to Allianz Park.

Saints Alive! Northampton v Bath

Tue, 26 Apr 2016 19:14:31 +0000

Will Bath be on a hiding to nothing at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday?  The last Bath win against Saints was six seasons ago and the last away victory a distant memory. Even among last season’s excellence and flair Northampton’s power proved too strong for Bath. This season Saints are almost as disappointed with their form as Bath, but at least they have a target. They now have a slight hold on a European Champions Cup place and a very small chance of making the playoffs- they will be chasing every point and bonus they can get.  Mike Ford’s men restored some pride as well as verve with their attacking play against Sale last weekend, but their rolling maul defence was found wanting on four occasions. Mallinder’s side will have noticed that frailty and be planning to exploit it. So –are Bath finally on the rise and Saints, who have lost their last two- into a slump, or will Saints exert their usual stranglehold for victory?

Pride and Precision: Bath v Sale

Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:19:53 +0000

The home leg of Bath’s double header with Sale has a “do or die” look about it-for both sides. Bath in ninth can hope for no more than pride, but Sale will wish to hold onto their tenuous grip on sixth: they can afford few slips in their remaining three games. One of those is a likely banana skin away at Newcastle, so Steve Diamond’s team will want safety before then. Last Sunday Bath found the pride to come back from 14-3 down to a respectable 17-17 with ten minutes to go. What they could not do was find the precision to win when the momentum seemed to have edged their way. The next score or error was expected to tip the balance and after both fly halves missed kicks, it was a Bath infringement that paved the way for Sale’s win. With an injury depleted squad and a recent record of self- destruct, Bath’s chances look no better than evens – even at home.