Since we launched Manpilez Proper back in August we’ve been frankly overwhelmed by your response both in terms of numbers and feedback. It’s been fantastic having more and more people getting involved.
Now we figured it’s time to take that to the next level so here, with our first ever reader submitted article comes Ms Cara, with her litany to Bath Rugby.
I feel quite honoured to be writing the first Premiership Team Profile to hit Manpilez, so without further ado, here’s the lowdown on Bath Rugby.
I started supporting Bath properly in 2002, though I grew up watching the team, and rugby in general, from when I was born. I have my Dad to thank for this, as well as the funny looks I get when telling people I support Bath in my North Lincolnshire accent.
Bath Rugby were established in 1865 and are one of the oldest rugby clubs in existence.
The home of Bath Rugby is The Recreation Ground, or The Rec. Unless of course you’re an away fan and then you’ll be more aware of it as ‘The Wreck’. Contrary to this lovely little nick name, The Rec is one of the most beautiful places to witness a game of rugby. Bias fully aside, of course!
Bath were the first British club to lift the Heineken Cup in 1998 beating Brive, in a thrilling final, 19-18.
In the league Bath have had mixed fortunes, making it to the semi-finals of the Premiership for the last three seasons. They have also been close to relegation, narrowly avoiding the drop in 2003.
Moving forward to last season, the campaign was a shaky one. In reality it was never going to be easy after all the controversy of the summer. Incase you missed all the ‘shenanigans’ of the summer, though how on earth you could of I have no idea, I’ll give a brief summary… *deep breath*
Four Bath players were accused of taking drugs. Three denied it and ended up with 9 month bans for bringing the game into disrepute. One admitted taking them and was handed an 8 month suspension.
If only it had been over and done with that quickly in real life!
Back to the 2009/2010 season, it started terribly. To be blunt. Up until the new year Bath had only managed to win 4 games from 17 (all competitions) and by Christmas I was seriously worrying about the big R!
It seemed that the team needed some sort of miracle to happen in order to get them heading up the table. That ‘sort of miracle’ seemed to come in the form of Luke Watson. This could have merely been coincidence, but I like to believe!
Bath rapidly turned the season around beginning with monumental and confidence boosting wins over London Irish and Saracens, both away from home. Unfortunately for Saracens the only thing ‘special’ happening there at the end of February was Bath earning a narrow, but crucial, win.
For me, as a supporter, the finest moment of the 2009/2010 campaign came during the Wasps St Georges Day game at Twickenham. Dubbed as Wasps’ big day out they were there to slay Bath. In reality they had their stingers handed to them on a plate by the men in blue, black and white. The pivotal bonus point win securing them a place within the top four just one game away from the all important semi finals.
Bath were to face Leicester at Welford Road in the semi’s and although they lost I couldn’t be too downbeat about the whole affair. Looking at the bigger picture, coming from where they had at the beginning of the season, to manage to get to the semi finals was a massive achievement and nothing can take that away.
The 2010/2011 season is set to be an exciting one for Bath, and all of their supporters, hopefully culminating in silverware, and I believe the following men are those to help Bath get there.
Aye Aye Captain! – Luke Watson
After joining Bath in November 2009, he has been somewhat of a saviour. There was a lot of hype surrounding Luke when the announcement came, not all of it good, but since arriving he has done nothing but quash any nervous dispositions any Bath supporter may have had, so much so that he was named captain for the 2010/2011 season.
Luke provides a brilliant character, team spirit and has the aura of a true leader.
Aside from that he’s just an all round nice guy. I may, or may not, have a slight man crush on him. To me, the man is a legend!
The Prodigal Son – Olly Barkley
Having re-signed for Bath after taking a year out* in 2009/2010 Olly is back with Bath. Olly is the epitome of a Bath player. I
can’t say too much about Olly without being disgustingly biased so I’ll leave it there, plus it’s in everyones best interests that I do not get started on his exclusion from any England team by Johnno. Oh well, Englands loss…
*A year out is what I have to refer to his year at Gloucester as. Weird? Me? Never! It was heartbreaking stuff, alright?
Moodos – Lewis Moody
Moody signed for Bath during the summer from arch rivals Leicester… oooooh controversial!
He’s a big signing and lets face it the guy is used to having his mitts all over silverware, which can only mean
good things for Bath, right?
Bendy – Nick Abendanon
The resident ‘pretty boy’, but trust me, the boy isn’t just a pretty face.
I have to confess that I used to really dislike Bendy, I’m not too sure why, perhaps I always felt him a little too inconsistent and I could never take to him as a player. Then he upped his game immensely and went from being weak in tackles to putting in massive hits, and being all over the park in both defense and attack. Suddenly he became dangerously exciting.
So don’t let his pretty blonde hair fool you, he can dish it out and boy can he take it.
Bendy gets a knock to the head at least once a game. It’s now an ongoing joke between me and my Dad that Bendy is never 100% at his best until he’s had the customary knock to the head.
As if to prove this theory last weeks game v London Irish provided a brilliant example.
Stowers KO’s Bendy, yes I think the red was harsh too, and 10 minutes later he scored a try which got the boys back in front.
That example is to try and justify that I am, by no means, insane…
One to watch – Nathan Catt
You might not recognise the name… yet… but you will.
He featured for the England Saxons in their annual summer trip to Canada for the Churchill cup and I strongly believe that 22 year old prop Catt is going to be a big thing, and not just literally.
They may not be players but no profile on Bath would be complete without a little bit on Steve Meehan, Sir Ian McGeechan and Bruce Craig.
Meehan joined Bath in 2006 and has recently committed himself to Bath until 2012. Meehan managed to lead Bath to their first silverware for 10 years when they won the ECC Final in 2008, beating Worcester at Kingsholm.
Sir Ian McGeechan was enlisted in June 2010 as performance director, only good things can come from him working with Bath, his legend precedes him.
Bruce Craig is the new owner of Bath, buying the club from Andrew Brownsword. Craig has already made big changes by giving the club what they’ve been wanting for years, with notable changes in the training facilities.
That concludes my team profile on Bath!
Words and pictures by Cara