With no relegation from the Gallagher Premiership at the end of this season, much to the relief of bottom club Bath, the West Country giant have taken a bold step to plan for a better future and one which their passionate supporters hope will be in keeping with their illustrious past, writes Guy Williams.
Following the bad sequence of results, bottom of the league with nine consecutive defeats.. under present Head Coach, Neal Hatley and Director of Rugby, Stuart Hooper, Bath’s bosses have had enough and have appointed South African Johann van Graan to take over from Hatley next season.
Van Graan, currently in charge at Munster, is a former South Africa forwards’ coach and enjoys a formidable record at the Irish province.
Under his leadership, Van Graan took Munster to two semi-finals of the European Championship Cup; before moving to Ireland, he coached at Blue Bulls in South Africa and helped them to win three Super 14 titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Bath Rugby is proud to announce the appointment of Johann van Graan as Head Coach for the 2022/23 season on a long-term contract.#WeAreBath ?????— Bath Rugby (@BathRugby) December 15, 2021
Reviving the fortunes at Bath, England’s top side for most of the 1980s and 1990s and winners of the European Champions Cup in 1997-98, is a long term project at a club who’ve not won the Premiership since the 1995-96 season.
Meanwhile, on Boxing Day, Bath face one of their toughest challenges of the season, the West Country clash against Gloucester, sixth in the Premiership with five wins from nine games.
On current form, you’d expect Gloucester to win, but Bath in front of a crowd of more than 14,000 may just break their duck this season and emerge victorious. Gloucester have a poor record at The Rec, with only six wins in their history.