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May 22, 2013

Bath's Dan Hipkiss forced to retire

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 05/22/2013

Former England centre Dan Hipkiss has retired from the sport with immediate effect after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.

Bath centre Hipkiss, who won 13 caps for England, injured his shoulder in January and despite making strides in his recovery, he has been left with no option but to retire. At his previous club Leicester, Hipkiss was an integral part of their dominance during the noughties and he will leave the the game with plenty of memories.

"This is obviously a really sad time for me, but the decision has really been taken out of my hands which has made it a little bit easier," Hipkiss said. "It's not the way anyone wants to leave the game, but when the doctor tells you it's time you have to listen to them.

"Looking back, I've had a great career, and would like to thank Sam Vesty and Lewis Moody, who I've played with for pretty much the whole time I've been in rugby. I'd also like to thank Paddy Howard and Darryl Gibson, who have given me a huge amount of support."

May 16, 2013

Rokoduguni signs new Bath deal

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 05/16/2013

Bath have announced that Fijian Semesa Rokoduguni has signed a new contract with the Premiership club.

The wing/centre, a tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in the British Army, arrived at The Rec part-way through this season and made an immediate impact with six tries in 13 appearances

Bath head coach, Gary Gold, said: "Roko is an incredible raw talent, and we’ve really seen how dangerous he can be in the recent months. He’s developed a lot in his time here so far, has been a potent threat for us in attack and ruthless in defence. He has a lot more still to come, and we’re very much looking forward to working with him to bring that out."

Rokoduguni’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Barty’ Bartholomew, added: “As Roko’s Commanding Officer, I am extremely proud of his achievements both on and off the rugby field over this last season at Bath Rugby. He remains a Lance Corporal in The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and has been an excellent ambassador for the Regiment and Army. We all look forward to watching him score many more tries at the Rec, as well as top scoring against the Navy next year!"

May 13, 2013

Gold gives birds both barrells

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 05/13/2013

Bath have had to resort to the drastic measure of using a recording of head coach Gary Gold’s voice to scare away birds that have taken residence at The Rec.

The Premiership club's efforts to relay their pitch ahead of next season have been troubled by what has been described as a "pesky flock" that have feasted on the grass seed with traditional scarecrows failing to deter them.

Fearing that the pitch would not be ready for his team, Gold then agreed to record a message of warning to be blasted over the PA system. "Worked a treat," said head groundsman Darren Ball, "so we’ll keep on using it as long as the birds stay hungry."

April 30, 2013

Ford completes Bath switch

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 04/30/2013

Bath have boosted their half-back options by bringing in fly-half George Ford and scrum-halves Micky Young and Martin Roberts for next season.

Ford's arrival ends months of speculation that he was moving to The Recreation Ground.

Young has played for England at Saxons and sevens level, while Roberts has won three caps for Wales. The pair will help make up for the loss of Michael Claassens who is leaving Bath at the end of the season.

Bath head coach Gary Gold said, “Micky and Martin are both very strong, capable players with good core skills and the ability to do things the opposition don't expect. They are still young, and we are looking forward to having them join the squad here and seeing them develop further."

April 29, 2013

Mercer signs new Bath deal

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/29/2013

Bath flanker Guy Mercer has extended his contract with the Premiership club.

The 23-year-old flanker said: "The environment here is fantastic and is certainly one in which a player will develop. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."

Head coach Gary Gold added: "Guy is a very impressive young man. He is Bath born and bred, and he plays and trains as if this Club means everything to him. We believe he has what it takes to be a major part of this Club’s future and we are delighted to have extended his contract."

April 25, 2013

Bath sign England Under-20s duo

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/25/2013

Bath have confirmed the signing of England Under-20s duo Anthony Watson and David Sisi.

Back-rower Sisi, 20, and fullback Watson, 19, both played in the dramatic victory over Wales U20 last month that saw the English side successfully defend their Six Nations crown and make the switch from London Irish.

Speaking of the signings, head coach Gary Gold said: “Anthony and David are outstanding players with real potential for the long-term. We feel that by bringing them into this environment we will really see them develop and bring out the best in them. Young, English talent is a big part of our thinking, and we see these young men as investments for the future. We are delighted to have secured them both.”

April 23, 2013

Bath youngsters pen new contracts

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/23/2013

Ollie Devoto and Tom Dunn have both signed new academy deals with Bath Rugby.

Devoto has started Bath's last three matches at fullback while hooker Dunn has also run out for the first team this season. Danny Grewcock, academy director, said of the signings: "It's great news that both Ollie and Tom have agreed new deals. They are both working very hard to become first team regulars for Bath, and their respective attitudes are exceptional. They aspire to be regular members of the senior squad here, and they both have the potential to achieve that."

Bath Rugby CEO Nick Blofeld added: "We are investing in the future and we do want young, local players to be a core part of that. As and when we need to fill any gaps in the squad we will, but to have such talent as Ollie and Tom coming through our Academy is great for the Club.

April 19, 2013

Bath announce further departures

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/19/2013

Bath have confirmed the identities of seven players who will leave the Aviva Premiership club at the end of this season.

It was already known that fly-half Stephen Donald and scrum-half Michael Claassens would be leaving The Rec and joining them will be Scotland international forward Simon Taylor and his back-row colleague Ben Skirving, plus backs Sam Vesty, Jack Cuthbert and Mark McMillan.

"We would like to thank all these players for their commitment and hard work in their time at Bath Rugby, and wish them all the very best in the next stages of their careers," Bath head coach Gary Gold said.

April 10, 2013

Stringer rewarded with new Bath deal

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/10/2013

Bath have announced that scrum-half Peter Stringer has signed a contract extension that will see him remain at the Premiership club next season.

The former Ireland international was originally brought in as injury cover earlier this season for first-choice scrum-half Michael Claassens, but has since gone on to make the No.9 shirt his own. Stringer, 35, said: "I still feel like I have a lot to give on the rugby field, and really wanted to keep on playing, so was happy to agree a new contract here. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Bath so far, and am looking forward to next season already."

Bath head coach Gary Gold, added: "Strings has been fantastic for us in the short time he has been here so far, so we’re really pleased he’s agreed to stay here for next season rather than going back to Ireland. He is the consummate professional in everything he does, both on and off the field, and that sets a great example for the entire squad."

April 9, 2013

Bath post record loss for past year

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/09/2013

Bath Rugby have posted a record loss of £2.8m for the past financial year.

Bath last recorded a profit in 2005-06, but according to figures quoted on thisisbath.co.uk, the club’s losses have increased year-on-year since then. The website also adds that owner Bruce Craig has lent the club £7.1m, which is in addition to the original loan of £4.765m the previous year.

But the club are confident that the broadcasting deal in place with BT Vision will cause an upturn in the club’s financial prospects and they are adamant that the heavy loss is in line with their projections.

April 3, 2013

Bath confirm Matt Garvey capture

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/03/2013

Bath have announced the signing of London Irish's Matt Garvey.

The versatile forward is Bath's second capture from London Irish ahead of next season and he follows in the footsteps of Jonathan Joseph in agreeing to a switch to the Rec. Bath coach Gary Gold said: "Matt is an excellent player and one we are extremely happy to have secured. He is a big unit and can do the rough stuff, but he can also offer a real threat in attack. We look forward to welcoming him to Bath."

Garvey added: "Bath is a great club and an incredible set up. I know that the environment there is a tough one, but I am sure it is also one that will make all of us better players. I look forward to joining the squad, and to testing myself amongst the players there and fighting for a place in the team."

March 27, 2013

Gilbert and Hipkiss re-sign with Bath

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 03/27/2013

Bath have announced that flanker Mat Gilbert and centre Dan Hipkiss have signed new deals with the Premiership club.

Gilbert, Britain’s only deaf professional rugby player, arrived at The Rec from PRO12 side Scarlets earlier this season on a six-month deal and has now extended his contract until next season. He said: "Coming to Bath has been a revelation for me. I wanted to test myself in the best environment and I feel that is here. I feel proud to have played for Bath and very excited that I will continue to do so."

Hipkiss, who has not played since January because of injury, will also remain at the club for at least another year. He said: "I am over the moon to have re-signed here at Bath. I love the Club and the environment, and I could now not see myself being anywhere else. I still feel I have a point to prove, and that this is the place to prove it."

Head coach Gary Gold said: "Mat is a special individual. He is unbelievably committed both to the team and to self-improvement. I feel proud to have him at Bath. And Danny is exactly the sort of professional we want around here. His work ethic is relentless and he takes no prisoners in training."

March 12, 2013

Bristol sign Bath's Ben Skirving

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/12/2013

Bristol Rugby have pulled off a significant coup with the signing of No.8 Ben Skirving from Bath.

The back-rower has been a key part of Bath's team this season and Bristol coach Liam Middleton was delighted with his capture. "Ben is a very impressive individual with a wealth of experience," Middleton said. "He’s a widely respected professional who can become an integral member of our squad. Ben is a powerful ball carrier, a hard worker and gives us plenty of options in the lineout. We’re trying to build a squad with the right balance of youth and experience – Ben fits the bill of a player in the prime of his career."

Skirving added: "Bristol Rugby is a fantastic club and one that are making positive strides on and off the field. Liam [Middleton’s] project to drive Bristol forward is one that I'm excited about and looking forward to contributing to. To be part of a club that matches my own ambitions as a player is something I feel very positive about."

March 9, 2013

Harlequins book place in Anglo-Welsh Cup final

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/09/2013

Harlequins stormed into the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup final thanks to a 31-23 triumph over Bath at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

Tom Guest crossed first for Harlequins with Karl Dickson and a double from Tom Williams helping them towards their 31-point total. Bath crossed the line through Francois Louw and Nick Abendanon but they crashed out of the tournament to a youthful Quins side.

For the full match report - click here.

March 1, 2013

Cornish Pirates bring in Bath duo

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/01/2013

RFU Championship side the Cornish Pirates have signed scrum-half Chris Cook and utility back Ollie Devoto from Bath on dual-registration deals.

“These are two great additions to the squad," said Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies “Our relationship with Bath Rugby has grown stronger as the season as gone on and long may it continue.”

Cornish Pirates backs coach Harvey Biljon added: “Both Chris and Ollie have 1st XV experience at Bath so will obviously add to the competition for starting places leading into the business end of the season.”

February 21, 2013

Bath promise 'world-class' arena

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/21/2013

Bath owner Bruce Craig is confident that the Premiership club's Recreation Ground home will be transformed into a 'world-class' arena by 2015.

Craig and the club must still overcome several legal hurdles before work can start on a new home with a maximum capacity of around 18,000 but he is adamant the wait will be worth it. "We want to provide a world-class facility and buildings that the city and club can be proud of, are appropriate and add to the beauty and splendour of Bath. It is a tough challenge but it is critical that we get it right," Craig told the Bath Chronicle.

“What we do needs to complement this unique and historic setting, and is for everyone in Bath, both now and for future generations. It is not only for players and supporters as it needs to work for the whole community and our own Bath Rugby Foundation. This is a project close to my heart and one I personally want to see come to fruition for the benefit of all.

Chief executive Nick Blofeld added: "There is a strategy and a process in place and we are making good progress against that, but we have to do things in a sequential way, we have to tick the boxes as we go along to make sure everything is watertight. We don’t want to take anything for granted. We are very grateful to everyone for their continuing support and patience."

February 20, 2013

Gary Gold confirms Michael Claassens exit

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/20/2013

Bath boss Gary Gold has confirmed that scrum-half Michael Claassens will leave the club at the end of the season.

Claassens has been at the west country club since 2007 and has been strongly linked with a move to Toulon. "Michael won’t be at the club next year," Gold told the Wiltshire Times. "He’s been outstanding. Mike’s been seven years here and I still think he’s playing good enough rugby to take on a new challenge, whatever that challenge is.

"It’s no other reason than a lifestyle change. It’s probably his last professional job before he returns home and he was quite keen to get a taste of another culture. He goes with our blessings and our massive appreciation for what he’s done for the club. We’re sad to see him go, but he goes with our blessings."

February 19, 2013

Bath add Orlandi and Houston

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/19/2013

Bath have bolstered their pack with the signings of Argentina prop Juan Pablo Orlandi and No.8 Leroy Houston.

Orlandi, who has 10 caps for the Pumas, arrives from Racing Metro, while Houston, who played a key role in the Reds' 2011 Super Rugby triumph, signs after a spell with Colomiers in France. "These are two very significant signings for Bath in that they say a lot about our ambition," Bath boss Gary Gold said. "Leroy is a guy I have admired for a long time, and we are delighted to have secured him. He's very dangerous with ball in hand, and loves to hit hard in defence.

"Juan Pablo is also a very powerful man. I spoke personally to the Pumas coach, Santiago Phelan, and he backed up our opinions, telling me that this guy is the real deal. To have depth in such key positions as tighthead prop is vital, and to add a world class player to our squad is very pleasing. We can't wait to get these guys training with us and to see them develop into Bath players."

February 10, 2013

Gold tips Kyle Eastmond for Lions call-up

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/10/2013

Bath boss Gary Gold insists that Kyle Eastmond is very much in the British & Irish Lions frame after starring in their victory over Worcester on Saturday.

The versatile Eastmond has played in the centres, on the wing and at fly-half for Bath this term and Gold believes the rugby league convert has a lot to offer the Lions. "Kyle will create havoc if he is taken out to Australia, but I'm not sure the Lions coaches are bold enough to want to go with someone like that," Gold told the Rugby Paper. "In 2009, I coached against the Lions and they brought Keith Earls as a wildcard.

"With Kyle's league background, his passing skills, his pace and the hard fields of Australia, it would be a great call. We're playing around with a couple of ideas and letting Kyle attack from 12. He's a prodigious talent, outstanding. We need the ball in his hands."

February 8, 2013

Brad Davis to leave Bath

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 02/08/2013

Bath have announced that first team coach Brad Davis is to leave the club after nearly seven years at the Recreation Ground.

The Australian moved to the west country outfit in 2006 from rugby league side Castleford Tigers to oversee Bath’s defence and he was part of the coaching team that led the side to success in the 2008 European Challenge Cup.

“This has been a very tough decision, but one I feel is right for both myself and the club,” Davis said. “I’ve learnt a lot in my time here, and I’d like to thank all the players, coaching and backroom staff. The time is right for me to move on and explore new opportunities."

January 25, 2013

Rob Webber to make Bath debut

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/25/2013

Bath have handed a debut to hooker Rob Webber ahead of their Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Exeter on Saturday.

Webber signed for Bath in the summer but suffered a shoulder injury. He has since lost his place in England's elite player squad but he is relishing the chance to get back out onto the field. "I'm chuffed to bits to be getting my first start," Webber said. "Bit nervous after such a long time out, but I just need to get amongst it, do the basics well and build game by game to get back to the standards I expect of myself."

January 24, 2013

Amlin Challenge Cup quarters unveiled

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/24/2013

Tournament organisers have announced the dates and kick-off times for this season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

Gloucester will launch the quarter-final round when they tackle Biarritz at Kingsholm on Thursday, April 4 (8pm), with two games scheduled the following evening - Perpignan v Toulouse (7pm) and Wasps' Adams Park appointment with Leinster (8pm). The quarter-finals are concluded on Saturday, April 6 when Bath tackle Stade Francais at the Recreation Ground (1pm).

January 23, 2013

Gold denies Bath deal for Ford

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/23/2013

Bath Rugby boss Gary Gold has denied that a deal has been done to bring Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford to the club.

Reports on Tuesday suggested that Ford has informed the Tigers that he does not want to re-sign with the club with his contract up at the end of the season. And the Leicester Mercury claimed that Ford has decided that his future lies at Bath, but their boss Gold has denied that a deal is in place.

"Obviously George is a good player and I'm not going to bury my head in the sand and say that he isn't, but there's no deal in place," Gold told the Bath Chronicle. "The simple situation is that we are not allowed to be speaking to players like George because he is covered by a movement management protocol. He hasn't signed with the club and at this stage we are not allowed to have a conversation with him. We are an easy club to label him to but we've got Tom Heathcote and Stephen Donald under contract here."

January 22, 2013

George Ford set to leave Tigers

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/22/2013

Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford has informed his bosses that he will leave the Aviva Premiership side at the end of the season, according to reports in the Leicester Mercury.

Ford has long been linked with a switch to Bath, where his father and former England coach Mike Ford works, and he has now reportedly confirmed that he will not re-sign with the Tigers. The newspaper claims that the Leicester hierarchy offered him a lucrative two-year contract but with Toby Flood still regularly in possession of the No.10 jersey, Ford has decided to look elsewhere.

If Ford does journey to Bath then he will have to compete with young Scotland half-back Tom Heathcote for the fly-half shirt while ex-All Black Stephen Donald is also on their books.

January 17, 2013

Michael Claassens blow for Bath

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/17/2013

Bath scrum-half Michael Claassens is set for three to four weeks on the sidelines, which will prompt their boss Gary Gold into looking for short-term half-back cover.

Claassens has damaged his thumb but Gold is hopeful that he will return in time for their Round 13 clash against Worcester on February 9. His setback leaves Bath with just two No.9s - Mark McMillan and Chris Cook - at their disposal so Gold will look for an injury joker.

“It is quite a concern," Gold told the Bath Chronicle. "We’ve got Macca and Cooky but we are thin now, really thin. We will probably have to look at bringing in a replacement.”

January 16, 2013

Bath confirm Toulon interest in Claassens

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

Bath Rugby boss Gary Gold has revealed that scrum-half Michael Claassens is in discussions with Toulon about a move at the end of the season.

Claassens' contract is up at the end of the current campaign and Top 14 big-spenders Toulon have been linked with a move for the half-back. They are preparing for life without Jonny Wilkinson, who looks set to retire in the summer, and could sign Claassens to step in at No.9 which would free up Frederic Michalak to shift to fly-half.

"He's been open and honest with us and he is in talks," boss Gold told the BBC about Claassens. "I'm sure Michael will tell us as soon as anything can be confirmed."

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