Sunday, 25 August 2013

Season's Preview: Bath


Founded: 1865

Years in Top Tier: 26

Last Year: 7th in Prem (53 points), Semi Final in Anglo-Welsh, Quarter Final in Amlin Challenge Cup

Europe: Amlin Challenge Cup

Director of Rugby: Garry Gold


In: George Ford (Leicester), Leroy Houston (Colomiers), Juan Pablo Orlandi (Racing Metro), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), Matt Garvey (London Irish), Peter Stringer (Munster), Anthony Watson (London Irish), David Sisi (London Irish), Micky Young (Leicester), Martin Roberts (Northampton), Gavin Henson (London Welsh), Alafoti Fa’osiliva (Bristol)

Out: Michael Claasens (Toulon), Ben Skirving (Bristol), Stephen Donald (Mitsubishi Dynaboars-Japan), Ben Mosses (Bristol), Jack Cuthbert (Edinburgh), Sam Vesty (Retiring-Worcester Coach), Mark McMillan (Retiring), Simon Taylor (Unknown), Dan Hipkiss (Retiring), Max Maidment (Cornish Pirates)

Ins: 12

Outs: 10

It has been 18 years since Bath’s last spell as English Champions in 1996, when Tigers’ last day loss at home to Harlequins handed them the Title.  Those 6 titles in 8 years was a glory period unmatched by any side since.  So will Garry Gold bring the glory days back to the Rec?

Probably not; but they should be the closest side since the losing finalists in 2004.

Bath’s new money man is Bruce Craig a localish businessman with billions to blow.  Using his cash they have moved to a flash new training ground and begun developing a pretty handy squad.

Last year saw Rob Webber, Dominic Day and Paul James join the pack which this year is strengthened by Juan Pablo Orlandi, Leroy Houston and Matt Garvey.  They now have one of the deepest tight fives in England with Davy Wilson, Anthony Perenise, Dave Attwood and Ryan Caldwell also available. 

The target has been to improve the back play to give them a better chance of beating the teams that can match their pack.  Ever present scrum half Michael Classens has moved on to Toulon and he has replaced by a trio of options: Martin Roberts from Northamtpon, Micky Young from Leicester and Peter Stringer signing permanently after last season’s loan spell.  George Ford has left Tigers to join up with his Dad and he will compete with Tom Heathcote, Gavin Henson, Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto for the fly half berth.

Alafoti Fa’osiliva has joined from rivals Bristol and he can play both 12 and 8, he has impressed in the 7s and it seems Bath plan to use him as a crash ball centre.  With Matt Banahan there will be subtler partnerships in the league but few with the go forward power.

Bath’s strength in depth should see them win plenty of games during the long winter and get into the Play Offs but I can’t see them winning the league just yet.

Prediction: 3rd

No comments:

Post a Comment