Team: Bath Rugby
Coach: Steve Meehan
Home ground: The Rec
Tom Biggs (Newcastle Falcons), Mark McMillan (Glasgow Warriors), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), Sam Vesty (Leicester Tigers), Ross Batty (Rotherham)
Mike Baxter, Scott Bemand, Daniel Browne, Rhys Crane, Ryan Davis, Rob Hawkins, Nicky Little, Joe Maddock, Julian Salvi, Matt Spelman, Michael Stephenson.
After an impressive run to the play-offs last season and with a new chairman in Bruce Craig, Bath have used their cash wisely in the off-season to sign some serious talent. Lewis Moody is England captain and in the form of his life and his arrival has been complemented by the versatile Simon Taylor in the back-row (or second row!). Taylor’s career has been up and down but there’s no doubting his talent and he should thrive as part of Bath’s offloading game plan.
At times last season Sam Vesty was the pick of the Premiership fly-halves and he has also come to Bath “invigorated” and with “juices flowing”, looking to squeeze into England’s World Cup plans. His first job will be to break into a back-line containing Olly Barkley and Butch James. However, having released Ryan Davis and Nicky Little there should be plenty of opportunities for Vesty whose focus is the play-making roles rather than cover at 15.
Not many to speak of, and with Sir Ian McGeechan on the coaching team, he’ll be sure to iron them out pretty quickly.
One to watch:
One of the biggest transfer headlines of the summer was England’s captain leaving the Tigers after 14 years at Welford Road. How well Lewis Moody adjusts to his new club might just be key to Bath’s chances, but the prospect of Moody, Luke Watson and Simon Taylor in the back row is very compelling.
Despite having lost a fair few players, the quality of Bath’s squad has improved and nothing less than a play-off place and a strong showing in Europe will suffice. If key men stay injury free the Premiership could well be heading South-West this year. 1st