BATH VOICE SPORTS OPINION: Bath Rugby: what’s being said about what went wrong this season – compared to the glory days when Bath were triumphant

The photograph will bring back memories for many a rugby fan – and is in contrast to the current predicament of Bath Rugby Club. That aside the club has a long and illustrious history and there have been other ups and downs – not just the ones of the glory days or today’s situation.
In the early days the team didn’t have a regular ground playing at Claverton Down, Lambridge Meadows, Taylor’s Field and Henrietta Park.
And in the war the team lost 17 players in the service of their country and the Rec was hit by German bombs. So there have been many more dark days in the club’s past – as well as the successes as shown in the photo above.

By Harry Mottram: Even the loyalist fans of Bath Rugby accept the 2021-2022 season has been one of the worst in terms for results in the club’s history.
The heavy defeats to Gloucester seemed to sum up everything that had gone wrong – and an experience that is so in contrast to the glory days of the 80s and 90s.
Everyone at the club and who follows the team’s fortunes have their own take on what has happened and how to turn things around, so it’s interesting to see what people have been saying.
In The Guardian last month Andy Bull wrote about questions raised over the director of rugby, Stuart Hooper, and “whether he was under-qualified for the job.”
And he said that owner Bruce Craig, “has had a reputation for meddling in selection and with signings, but who has now decided to step down as chairman and let Griffiths take over.” He also picked up on the training base at Farleigh House, which he said had been criticised as to whether it was suitable.
Liam Heagney for Ruby Pass quoted ex-Scotland lock Jim Hamilton as saying about Hooper: “I am going to say it frankly and I feel awful saying it because it is easy to judge and say you would be doing this, you should be doing that – Bath need to get rid of Hooper, they do.”
Following the latest defeat by the Cherries the media picked up on an apparent bust up between Bath’s Tom Dunn and Hooper in which Dunn appeared to take the director of rugby to task with some expletives according to some.
After the 0-64 loss in Gloucester head coach Neal Hatley said the team was lacking confidence. In the first 20 minutes he felt (even with only 14 men) the team were ‘in a contest’ but they didn’t do that for the last 60 minutes. Hatley also said there wasn’t a single player who wasn’t trying hard when questioned over the team’s collective desire to win.
Unsurprisingly criticism has come from the fans with many venting their fury on social media.
Many have put the blame on Hooper and Hatley and suggested that relegation to the Championship would help to refocus the club – although thankfully that won’t happen this season despite the club sitting at the bottom of the table.
The fact there is no relegation this season has for some been one reason why the club faded in the Gloucester game as failure didn’t have a consequence.
To turn things around the club have announced that England international Piers Francis will join the club from Northampton Saints while Dave Attwood will rejoin from Bristol Bears along with more signings to be announced.
And for some supporters the ongoing concerns about the Rec itself is a factor in the slump.
Back in the glory days Bath was on a par with their rivals – essentially the inheritors of the amateur status when many clubs played their rugby on local authority owned grounds and finances were on a far humbler level.
When professionalism arrived initially Bath were fine as insiders will tell you they were semi professional in terms of players receiving remuneration when they were supposed to be amateurs.
However clubs such as Exeter built new stadiums with new income streams from hospitality or moved to ground share like Bristol and Wasps.
So the issue of the stadium does have an effect on the club’s finances as it limits capacity and obviously the club can’t expand their offering with a hotel and more hospitality.
With a three year extension for the temporary stands there’s a breathing space – but the arguments rumble on. Lambridge would have been a possible site for a new ground but it’s a long walk up London Road and the attraction of the Rec is the central location.
One thing is for sure and that’s the loyalty of the fans – one of the few absolute pillars that hold up the club and maintain its high status.
At the time of going to press it is hard to know how things will pan out at the club this month and during the summer but one thing is for certain and that is that confidence must return and that will only happen with victories.