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BATH RUGBY: ‘We are here to make our own history’
TOBY Booth believes Bath’s recruitment policy has armed them with a squad unburdened by the weight of the club’s glorious past.
Entering the second season of their tenure at the Rec, the coaching team of director of rugby Gary Gold, Booth, Mike Ford and Neal Hatley have continued their overhaul of the playing staff as they set about the task of restoring the club to the upper echelons of English rugby.
Experienced heads such as Michael Claassens, Olly Barkley, Lee Mears, Stephen Donald, Dan Hipkiss and Simon Taylor have all made their exits in the last 12 months, with the likes of talented teenage fly-half George Ford, exciting centre Jonathan Joseph, full-back Anthony Watson and forward Dave Sisi adding a more youthful edge to the squad.
Booth says the recruitment process has been carefully tailored towards bringing in young, hungry players lured by the vision for the future mapped out by Gold’s coaching team.
Bath are without a domestic honour to their name since the birth of the professional era in the 1995-96 campaign, while their last silverware of any sort came with the European Challenge Cup in the 2007-08 season, meaning the club’s trophy-laden yesterdays have little relevance for today’s players.
“They have no idea,’’ said Booth.
“The change you need to make is that you need to make your own history. That’s what we’re all here for.
“It’s the reason that I and the coaches came here. You have an owner and an organisation that wants to recreate its new future, if you like.
“Of course, we get the past recited to us but if you look at the past in the professional era it hasn’t been too flash.
So from that point of view we’ve drawn a line in the sand.
“We’re very respectful of Bath and what’s gone before, but ultimately it’s about the new Bath and what we’re trying to get to with Bruce Craig (owner) and the timeframe that we can get that done in.’’
The arrival of the likes of the highly-rated Ford and Joseph – both touted as regular England internationals of the future – have impressed many observers and hopefully add the kind of ‘X factor’ to which Gold has previously referred as Bath try to improve on last season’s seventh-placed Premiership finish.
“I’ve no doubt that if we continue to get that rate of improvement, we’ll make ourselves a very tough team to play against,’’ said Booth.
“If you are competitive week in and week out, you give yourselves a good chance.
“Young players haven’t got too much external stuff to drag them down. Ultimately all they care about is playing. To be successful as an athlete, you need to be quite single-minded. That’s the sacrifice you make as a professional athlete.
“By the signings we’ve made it’s fairly obvious we’re going to be playing a certain way and our challenge is making an identity of rugby that Bath play.”
MORE BUILD-UP TO THE START OF BATH’S SEASON, INCLUDING INTERVIEWS WITH GEORGE FORD, JONATHAN JOSEPH, DAVE ATTWOOD AND MATT GARVEY IN NEXT WEEK’S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND AT wiltshiretimes.co.uk/sport
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