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Bath Rugby

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Bath Rugby
Full nameBath Rugby
UnionSomerset RFU
Founded1865; 159 years ago (1865)
LocationBath, Somerset, England
Ground(s)The Recreation Ground (Capacity: 14,509)
Director of RugbyJohann van Graan
Captain(s)Ben Spencer
Most appearancesPhil Hall (580)
Top scorerJon Callard (2,087)
Most triesTony Swift (161)
League(s)Premiership Rugby
1st kit
2nd kit
European kit
Largest win
Bath 84–7 Sale
1996–97 National Division One[1]
Largest defeat
Gloucester 64–0 Bath
(Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester)
30 April 2022[1]
Official website

Bath Rugby is a professional rugby union club in Bath, Somerset, England. They play in Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby. Founded in 1865 as Bath Football Club, since 1894 the club has played at the Recreation Ground in the city centre.

Bath Rugby is one of the most successful clubs in England having won 18 major trophies It was particularly successful between 1984 and 1998 when it won 10 Domestic Cups, 6 League titles, and was the first English side to win the European Cup in 1998. In 2008 Bath also won the European Challenge Cup, the continent's second tier of competition.

Bath is one of only three clubs never to have been relegated from the top division of English rugby. Bath finished 2nd in the 2023–24 Premiership Rugby season, losing the play off final, this entitles them to in the 2024-25 European Rugby Champions Cup. The current Head of Rugby is Johann van Graan, who started in July 2022. Matches with local rivals Bristol Bears and Gloucester are referred to as West Country derbies.


Formation and the early years (1865–1954)[edit]

Former player and president, James Pitman for Bath in 1920

Bath Football Club is one of the oldest clubs in existence, having been founded in 1865 by members of Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath, for 'something to do in the winter'.[2] This is the reason why the club colours of the two clubs are identical. With an original home base at The North Parade Ground, in Bathwick, The team 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.[3]

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).[4]

Competitive competitions and the glory years (1954–1995)[edit]

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. 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.[5]

Rowell transformed the ethos of a club that had traditionally drawn local players. 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,[6] and the precision of Roger Spurrell,[7] was complemented by the quality 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 Anglo-Welsh Cup final winning it four years on a trot, from 1984 to 1987. Bath, after a blip in 1988, dominated, winning it a further six times.

The formalised rugby structure was formed in 1987, and Bath dominated the early years of the first division, being crowned league champions six times in just 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. A week later, in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final at Twickenham, Bath beat Leicester 10–6 to become the first English club to do the double of winning both League and Cup. 1990 saw the last of six consecutive Twickenham final wins, with the club defeating Gloucester 48–6. 1993–94 saw the team win the Anglo Welsh Cup, beating Leicester. In May 1996, Bath Rugby and Wigan made history by playing against each other at both codes. The first match was at Maine Road, Manchester under League rules and saw Bath struggle, eventually losing 82–6. In the return fixture under Union rules at Twickenham, Bath were able to regain a measure of pride by beating Wigan 44–19.

The Professional era (1995–present)[edit]

Bath verus Bristol in 2005

Jack Rowell's departure in 1995 and rugby union becoming a professional sport in 1996 had seen Bath struggle to find consistency either on or off the field. With regular changes in the coaching staff and a steady turnaround of players, the formula that led to past successes was still being sought, albeit Bath still managed to be the first British club to lift the European 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. Off the field, the official supporters' club of Bath Rugby was formed in January 1997.[8]

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 rivals Bristol in the 2002–03 season, the club invested heavily in its squad, the team ended the regular season at the top of the table six points, but lost in the play-off final match at Twickenham. Bath finished 4th in the 2004–05 season and also reached the RFU Cup final, though lost to Leeds at Twickenham after a poor display. 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.[9]

Byron Kelleher and Michael Claassens in 2008

In 2006 they defeated Leicester Tigers in the quarter finals at a sold out Walkers' Stadium in Leicester, 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 competition, instead contesting in the European Challenge Cup, the second level of European rugby. Steve Meehan was appointed the new acting head coach in the summer of 2006.[10]

Bath versus Montpellier at the Rec in 2011

In 2008 Bath won their first trophy in ten years, beating Worcester in the European Challenge Cup. On 14 April 2010, Bath Rugby announced a change of ownership and set out new plans for the future of the club,[11] including a proposal to create a new club headquarters at Farleigh House[12] and a commitment to build a new 20,000 all seater stadium.

Mike Ford became the club's head coach in May 2013. Ford guided Bath to the 2014–15 Premiership Final, where they lost to Saracens. Ford was awarded the Aviva Premiership Director of Rugby of the Year award in 2015 while his son, George Ford, won Player of the Year.[13] However, after a disappointing campaign that saw Bath finish 9th in the table, Mike Ford left the club at the end of the 2015–2016 season.[14]

The 2021–22 season was Bath's worst ever campaign. They finished bottom of the Premiership for the first time in their history, and suffered their greatest ever defeat, against rivals, Gloucester, losing 64–0 at Kingsholm. Ahead of the 2022–23 season, South African coach Johann van Graan joined Bath.[15] Van Graan turned Bath around in his first season. The team's improvement in form over the course of the campaign culminated with a 61–29 win over Saracens on the final day, which saw them edge neighbours and rivals Bristol Bears for eighth in the table and a place in the 2023–24 Champions Cup.[16]

Bath finished the 2023/2024 regular season in 2nd place, their highest finish since 2015. After defeating Sale Sharks in the semi-final, Bath competed against Northampton Saints in the Premiership Final, where Bath suffered a narrow 25–21 defeat.[17]


The Recreation Ground[edit]

The Recreation Ground

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 hosted Somerset County Cricket Club for one match a year until 2011.[18]

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".[19] 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.[20]

View of the South Stand hospitality boxes

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.[21] 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.[22] 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,[23] including the use of the Recreation Ground site, was said by the club to "re-open the door to redevelopment at the Rec".[24]

Twickenham Stadium[edit]

Bath Rugby club shop, next to Pultney Bridge in Bath city centre

Between the 2016–17 and 2018–19 seasons, Bath Rugby played an annual home fixture at Twickenham Stadium.[25] The fixture; dubbed The Clash was normally played around Easter and formed part of a five-year deal to host games at Twickenham.[26] The 2017 match had an attendance of 61,868, and the 2018 match had 60,880 spectators.


Between 2020 and 2023, the kit was supplied by Macron.[27] On the front of the shirt, Dyson is at the centre. Compeed appears on the left sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Thatchers is at the top with Avon Protection on top of the squad number and Grant UK 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, the Bendac Group is on the left and Your Red Car is on the right. Castore are the kit supplier from the 2023–24 season.[28]



Winners Runners-up
League Cup
Season Division Pts Pos Domestic Cup Champions Cup
1987–88 Div 1 30 4th QF
1988–89 Div 1 20 1st Champions
1989–90 Div 1 16 3rd Champions
1990–91 Div 1 22 1st R3
1991–92 Div 1 21 1st Champions
1992–93 Div 1 22 1st R3
1993–94 Div 1 31 1st Champions
1994–95 Div 1 27 2nd Champions
1995–96 Div 1 31 1st Champions
1996–97 Prem 31 2nd R5 QF
1997–98 Prem 26 3rd R5 Champions
1998–99 Prem 30 6th R4
1999–00 Prem 43 2nd R4 PS
2000–01 Prem 70 3rd R4 PS
2001–02 Prem 33 11th R6 QF
2002–03 Prem 36 11th QF
2003–04 Prem 79 1st QF SF
2004–05 Prem 58 4th RU PS
2005–06 Prem 46 9th SF SF
2006–07 Prem 45 8th R4
2007–08 Prem 69 3rd R4
2008–09 Prem 65 4th R1 QF
2009–10 Prem 61 4th R1 PS
2010–11 Prem 62 5th R1 PS
2011–12 Prem 44 8th SF PS
2012–13 Prem 53 7th SF QF
2013–14 Prem 67 5th SF
2014–15 Prem 75 2nd PS QF
2015–16 Prem 48 9th PS
2016–17 Prem 59 5th R1 SF
2017–18 Prem 56 6th RU PS
2018–19 Prem 56 6th R1 PS
2019–20 Prem 67 4th R1 PS
2020–21 Prem 52 7th
2021–22 Prem 34 13th PS
2022–23 Prem 47 8th PS
2023–24 Prem 60 1st PS R16


Bath Rugby Honours[29]
Competition Titles Seasons
Premiership Rugby 6 1988–89, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96
Premiership Rugby Cup 10 1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1991–92, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96
European Champions Cup 1 1997–98
European Challenge Cup 1 2007–08


Current squad[edit]

Ben Spencer has been team captain since 2022

The Bath Rugby squad for the 2024–25 season is:

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Niall Annett Hooker Ireland Ireland
Tom Dunn Hooker England England
Hame Faiva Hooker Italy Italy
Max Pearce Hooker England England
Jasper Spandler Hooker England England
John Stewart Hooker England England
Arthur Cordwell Prop England England
Thomas du Toit Prop South Africa South Africa
Ioan Emanuel Prop Wales Wales
Archie Griffin Prop Wales Wales
Scott Kirk Prop England England
Beno Obano Prop England England
Billy Sela Prop England England
Mikey Summerfield Prop England England
Will Stuart Prop England England
Francois van Wyk Prop South Africa South Africa
Jack Bennett Back row England England
Harvey Cuckson Lock England England
Josh Dingley Lock England England
Jacques du Plessis Lock South Africa South Africa
Eddie Erskine Lock Scotland Scotland
Charlie Ewels Lock England England
Will Jeanes Lock England England
Ross Molony Lock Ireland Ireland
Ewan Richards Lock England England
Quinn Roux Lock Ireland Ireland
Alfie Barbeary Back row England England
Josh Bayliss Back row Scotland Scotland
Jaco Coetzee Back row South Africa South Africa
Thompson Cowan Back row Wales Wales
Mackenzie Graham Back row England England
Arthur Green Back row England England
Ted Hill Back row England England
Guy Pepper Back row England England
Miles Reid Back row England England
Ethan Staddon Back row England England
George Timmins Back row England England
Sam Underhill Back row England England
Player Position Union
Tom Carr-Smith Scrum-half England England
Ieuan Davies Scrum-half Wales Wales
Neil le Roux Scrum-half South Africa South Africa
Louis Schreuder Scrum-half South Africa South Africa
Ben Spencer Scrum-half England England
Orlando Bailey Fly-half England England
Finn Russell Fly-half Scotland Scotland
Raff Weston Fly-half England England
Will Butt Centre England England
Ollie Lawrence Centre England England
Max Ojomoh Centre England England
Will Parry Centre England England
Cameron Redpath Centre Scotland Scotland
James Short Centre England England
Louie Hennessey Centre Wales Wales
Joe Cokanasiga Wing England England
Regan Grace Wing Wales Wales
Luke Graham Wing South Africa South Africa
Will Muir Wing England England
Tom de Glanville Fullback England England
Ciaran Donoghue Fullback England England
Ruaridh McConnochie Fullback England England
Sam Harris Fullback England England

Rugby World Cup[edit]

The following are players which have represented their countries at the Rugby World Cup, whilst playing for Bath, players in bold won the tournament.

Tournament Players selected England players Other national team players
1987 6 Gareth Chilcott, Graham Dawe, David Egerton, Jon Hall, Nigel Redman, Richard Hill
1991 4 Nigel Redman, Richard Hill, Jeremy Guscott, Jonathan Webb
1995 12 Ben Clarke, Graham Dawe, Jeremy Guscott, John Mallett, Jonathan Callard, Phil de Glanville, Mike Catt, Steve Ojomoh, Victor Ubogu Simon Geoghegan Ireland, Dave Hilton, Eric Peters Scotland
1999 7 Victor Ubogu, Phil de Glanville, Jeremy Guscott, Mike Catt, Matt Perry Kevin Maggs Ireland, Dan Lyle United States
2003 6 Iain Balshaw, Mike Tindall, Mike Catt, Danny Grewcock Kevin Maggs Ireland, Simon Danielli Scotland
2007 6 Lee Mears, Matt Stevens, Steve Borthwick, Olly Barkley, Nick Abendanon Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu Samoa
2011 7 David Wilson, Lee Mears, Lewis Moody, Matt Banahan Chris Biller United States, Anthony Perenise Samoa, Francois Louw South Africa
2015 12 Rob Webber, David Wilson, George Ford, Sam Burgess, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson Nikola Matawalu Fiji, Dominic Day, Rhys Priestland Wales, Alafoti Faosiliva Samoa, Francois Louw South Africa, Horacio Agulla Argentina
2019 6 Sam Underhill, Jonathan Joseph, Joe Cokanasiga, Ruaridh McConnochie, Anthony Watson Francois Louw South Africa
2023 5 Ollie Lawrence, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill Cameron Redpath, Finn Russell Scotland

Past club captains[edit]

Captaincy for the entire season only is counted, individual games are not included.


Position Name
Head of Rugby South Africa Johann van Graan
Defence Coach South Africa JP Ferreira
Assistant coach England Lee Blackett
Assistant coach England Richard Blaze
Assistant coach England Andy Robinson
Scrum Coach Scotland Stevie Scott
Skills Coach England Ryan Davis
Academy manager England Craig Lilley


  1. ^ a b "Bath Rugby - Statistics". Its Rugby. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  2. ^ The Lansdown Story, 1975
  3. ^ "The history of Bath Rugby Club". Centurion Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  4. ^ "Bath Rugby Visual Timeline | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  5. ^ "Rowell Jack". Bath Rugby Heritage. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  6. ^ "Bath Rugby - Gareth Chilcott - Tales from the Legends | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  7. ^ "Spurrell Roger". Bath Rugby Heritage. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  8. ^ "Home". Bath Rugby Supporters' Club. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Connolly John". Bath Rugby Heritage. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Bath promote Meehan to head coach". BBC. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  11. ^ "Bath Rugby to move to new headquarters at Farleigh Hungerford". This is Bath. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Protected Blog › Log in". IntoSomerset. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards". Getty Images. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Mike Ford leaves Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Bath confirm Van Graan signing after Munster boss invoked release clause". The42. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  16. ^ "New Premiership season: How Johann van Graan has rebuilt Bath over past 18 months". BBC. 13 October 2023. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  17. ^ "Alex Mitchell try earns Northampton title as 14-man Bath are denied". The Guardian. 8 June 2024. Retrieved 10 June 2024.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "Rugby club: We're looking for 20k stadium". Bath Chronicle. 30 November 2009. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  20. ^ "Bath Rec redevelopment". BBC News. 14 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Temporary Plans". Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Redevelopment Plans - the Rec". Archived from the original on 17 February 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  23. ^ "Stadium for Bath | Bath Rugby | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  24. ^ "Bath Rugby Statement". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Bath Rugby team to face Bristol Bears at Twickenham | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  26. ^ Rucker, Rugby (23 September 2016). "Bath Rugby launch plans for annual fixture in London over next five years". Ruck. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  27. ^ "2020/21 Home Kit launches with Macron | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  28. ^ "Bath Rugby – Castore". Castore. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  29. ^ "Bath Rugby Honours Board | Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 2 May 2024.

External links[edit]