Bath Rugby: English Premiership Rugby Club History
Bath Rugby History and Highlights.
Bath Rugby was founded in 1865 by members of Lansdown Cricket Club as a way to play a sport in the winter as Cricket is usually played in the summer. The club is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world.
Almost 130 Years of Stadium History
In 1894, Bath Rugby moved to its longtime home at The Recreation ground, which is commonly known as “The Rec.” The move came after the Forester Family leased out a plot of land on its Bathwick Estate to Bath County Recreation company. Bath County Recreation company then developed the land into a multisport venue suitable for everything from cricket matches and tennis to archery and, of course, rugby. Today it can hold a little over fourteen thousand spectators, and continues its strong multisport tradition.
First Opponents and International Bouts
Bath’s early fixtures mainly included matches involving Weston-super-Mare, Gloucester, Clifton, and the Bristol Arabs. They also had numerous matches against Welsh sides such as Cardiff RFC and Penarth.
In 1907, Racing Club de Bordelais became the first overseas team to face Bath, with the match finishing in a 6-6 tie. Bath then went on their first tour abroad in 1954, where they faced St Claude, Givors, and Tour du Pin, in which they won all three matches. The following year they toured St Claude, Dijon, and Macon, winning all three matches once again.
During their amateur period, Bath won six first division titles, six Anglo-Welsh Cups, and one Middlesex Sevens trophy in the summer of 1994, beating Orrell in the final.
In 1996, as Rugby Union became a professional sport, Bath Rugby transitioned to professionalism. It didn’t take long before the club saw some silverware. The following season, captained by Andy Nicol, Bath became the first British team to win the Heineken Cup by beating Brive 19-18 in the final.
They then went trophyless for a few seasons, and, barring a few runner-up spots, they had little success. They failed to recapture the former glories of their amateur days, which led to them almost facing relegation and a merger with Bristol RFC. However, the club invested heavily into the playing team and managed to turn things around the following year, reaching the playoff final at Twickenham Stadium.
Two of Bath’s best-ever players, Matt Stevens and Danny Grewcock, were selected for the Lions tour to New Zealand the following season, demonstrating the side’s dominance in the forwards’ pack.
Bath went on to win the 2007-08 Challenge Cup, which is their most recent title to date, as they beat Worcester Warriors 24-16 in the final. The club was bought out just two years later, with plans put in place to build a new and improved stadium.
Recent times have been tough on Bath Rugby as their two worst performances in their history came in their 2021/2022 campaign. On the 17th of October 2021, Saracens beat Bath 71-17 in Bath’s own Recreation Ground, which was the biggest defeat on home soil in their history.
Just six months later, Bath suffered another embarrassing defeat, this time to bitter rivals Gloucester RFC which ended 64-0. This handed Gloucester their biggest ever win, not just over Bath, but their biggest ever English Premiership victory.
The future of Bath Rugby
After having one of their worst seasons in its history, Bath Rugby is now looking towards the 2022/23 season with renewed hope, with seven new additions to their roster, and a new core of three hired Senior Squad Coaches, which the club believes will turn around this unfortunate performance.