Into the club’s 150th season, the desire to distinguish such a landmark with success is stronger than ever. After a brilliant league campaign last season – Bath Rugby finished runners-up to Saracens after losing 28-16 in the final – Bath fans are hoping that the club can go that extra step to secure silverware this season.
Last season saw the Blue, Black and Whites set the league alight with some scintillating rugby. Pundits were running out of superlatives to describe Bath’s attacking prowess that saw them score an incredible 72 tries, their highest since the 2000-2001 season. Bath’s exciting rugby secured them a top four finish and placed them in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals. A thumping victory at home to Leicester Tigers saw Bath Rugby reach the final at Twickenham, which they sadly lost to Saracens. The league campaign that came close to bringing the title back to The Rec rounded off a frustrating season for the Bath faithful.
Whilst Bath’s league form was going well, they somewhat struggled in the two cup competitions, in particular the LV Cup. It saw Bath Rugby finish bottom of their group and fail to reach the knockout stages, a surprise considering how well Bath had been performing in the Aviva Premiership. They also competed in the European Rugby Champions Cup, where Bath Rugby had better luck in qualifying for the knockout stages. They topped a tough group against the likes of Toulouse, Montpellier and Glasgow Warriors despite a shaking start to their European campaign. Unfortunately for Bath fans, the excitement of a European title came to an end in the first round of the knockout phases, with Bath losing to Leinster.
What next for the Blue, Black and White?
After a successful but frustrating season last year for Bath Rugby, the possibility of Bath becoming a trophy winning team is obvious to the fans. Bath Rugby will be looking to continue their fast, attacking pace, which earned them so many plaudits last year, but will want to improve their performance away from home. The Rec became a fortress for Bath last year, losing only one game in the Aviva Premiership at home, whereas they lost five of their eleven away games. This is something that head coach Mike Ford will want to improve, to show that Bath can play their rugby anywhere and not just at The Rec. Solving this problem will lay the foundations for Bath Rugby to go that one step further this year, hopefully securing the Aviva Premiership title for the first time in twenty years.
Bath’s main focus will be the league this year, but they also have their eye on a successful European Rugby Champions Cup run. With the international quality of players available, Bath will be hoping to at least reach the semi-final. With no LV Cup to worry about this season – due to the Rugby World Cup pushing the start of the league campaign back – the Bath players will have fewer games to worry about throughout the year, allowing them to concentrate on the two greatest competitions that domestic rugby has to offer.
There is no doubting the talent that this current Bath Rugby squad has and, with the way Mike Ford has them playing, there is no reason why the team can’t make this an historic year for the club with a trophy or two.