No replacement planned for Gold at Bath

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Bath head coach Mike Ford Bath head coach Mike Ford

BATH head coach Mike Ford says no new face will be joining the club to replace departed director of rugby Gary Gold.

Former South Africa assistant coach Gold made his exit this week, the club citing a disagreement over the definition of his role at the Rec.

The 46-year-old was appointed Bath's head coach in May 2012 before moving upstairs to become director of rugby last summer with Ford becoming head coach.

Great Britain rugby league coach Steve McNamara was linked with a switch to the Rec last week before restating his commitment to the national team, with England’s World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward’s name also touted.

Gold's changed brief during the close season saw him continue to oversee the club's rugby department, with responsibility for recruitment, wage cap management, overseeing the medical and strength and conditioning departments and the Academy.

But Ford indicated today that those tasks would likely be absorbed by the current coaching set-up, with the club yet to decide who would fill Gold’s shoes.

“The organisation has still got to figure that out but we were a recruitment group anyway and the processes we have got in place are still there,’’ said Ford, whose side take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership at the Rec on Saturday (3pm).

“The coaches still do due diligence on every player we are trying to sign or keep. From that point of view there is nothing changed there.

“Obviously the club has got to figure out who is going to do Gary’s role, because there will be nobody coming in.’’

Gold’s exit was a shock to many supporters, but Ford insisted he was happy with the current crop of coaches, including Toby Booth (first team coach) and Neal Hatley (forwards), with Dave Alred also providing kicking coaching two days a week, although he didn’t rule out additions further down the line.

“We’re very happy, we’re always looking to improve,’’ he added.

“At the moment we have people like Dave Williams stepping up from the Academy to help the first team and doing a great job alongside Danny Grewcock (Academy director) developing the skills that we want.

“We have got enough coaches but if there is somebody out there, or an area we need to look on we will go out and see if somebody will fit the bill.

“It’s where we are in our cycle of the team. We’re doing okay and there is stability within the on-field coaching and we want to keep that nice and tight.

“At the same time, if we want to be consistent in the top four and top two we will want to improve and put more detail on to take it to the next level.

“At the moment we don’t want to be jumping five or six steps in front but just one step at a time.’’

Ford added his words of praise to the Bath United side that lifted the Aviva A League title with a 29-20 victory over Northampton Wanderers.

Ford, who was at Franklin’s Gardens, to see the triumph said: “This group of players have got so much competitive spirit. Senior players want to be there and lead it, that’s the culture we’ve got.

“I’m really pleased for the players who played and for the time and effort that Neal, Danny and Dave Williams have put in to the group of players.

“They’ve really prepared them well. I’ve been in some organisations where you just rock up for an A team game and throw the shirts out, but they have really prepared them like a first team and making them feel good. It’s been excellent.

“It’s good to do what we’ve done, it just keeps the momentum of the club going. There’s a good spirit at the moment.’’

Ford’s son, fly-half George has been named the Aviva Premiership’s player of the month for November, it was confirmed today.

Ford has been instrumental in Bath's rise into the top four and climbed to the top of the League's scoring charts with 111 points already this term.

He said: "It's a reflection of how the team went. The forwards have been outstanding, as usual, and the back have been very good too.

"Without these boys, you don't pick up these sorts of things, so I have to say fair play to them.

“Every game the pack have dominated, so it’s been easier for me and Strings to try to manage the game. If they keep putting us on the front foot, we’ve got to keep trying to manage the game for them.

“It’s been working pretty well and hopefully it can continue.”

Former England star and Aviva ambassador Austin Healey backed the 20-year-old England Saxons ace for full national honours, saying: “Over the past few months George Ford has ticked all the boxes required to become the England No 10.

"He has developed his game in terms of stability, goal kicking and territorial control, whilst maintaining a unique ability to take the ball to the line."

"With England's forwards starting to dominate, George could fit perfectly into the 10 shirt for the Six Nations.

Ford beat Exeter Chiefs captain Dean Mumm and Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter to the award, voted for by a panel of national media representatives.

He wins a trophy from Aviva and £250 to donate to a charity of his choice.

MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS, PLUS MORE FROM FORD, MATT GARVEY AND GEORGE FORD IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT THIS WEEK

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