Bath Rugby’s ongoing partnership with the University of Bath continues to enhance the Clubs potential to achieve one of its core strategic aims of achieving a 50% homegrown squad by 2023. One of the Club’s latest crop of players hoping to progress and become a lasting part of that 50% is loosehead prop, Arthur Cordwell.
The 20-year-old made his first appearance for the University of Bath this season in what looks to be his final year of playing rugby with the Blue and Golds in a 52-25 win over Cardiff University in the Anniversary Game at the Rec on Wednesday evening.
Cordwell is hoping that the side can push on from claiming their first win of the campaign and is eager to have a big involvement in his final year playing at the University.
He said: “It was a massive result for us. We have had a slow start to the season this year, but we spoke about that occasion at the beginning of the year on how we use the occasion in front of all of our supporters as a springboard to kick off our season and get it going.
“We got ourselves a clinical result and it was led by set-piece dominance. It was just an incredible occasion at the Rec with all of the home supporters and we will use this to gain some confidence and play some good rugby in the coming weeks.
“As a team, last year we made the semi-finals after making a similarly slow start to the season, but we really kicked on throughout the season and solidified as a team. This year we are hoping to build on that, and it has been very clear throughout pre-season at the University of Bath that the goal is to make the final at Twickenham. This is likely to be my last year of University rugby so I would love to have that opportunity to play there with the team.”
“The driving maul is part of the legacy of Mark Lilley and his time at the University of Bath, we really do take pride in that part of our game. We use this area of the game to drain the energy of the opposition both physically and emotionally. It allows us to march the opposition back and get into the zones of the pitch that allows us to score some points.”
A product of Canford School, Cordwell’s solid performances with the Bath Rugby U18s during the 2016/17 campaign secured him a contract with the Senior Academy ahead of the 2017/18 season, and has since continued his development whilst training with the first team squad in pre-season ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The prop made his first senior appearance in the Premiership Rugby Cup defeat to Exeter at Sandy Park in September 2019 and Cordwell believes that the player pathway at Bath Rugby is a powerful resource for young players.
The 20-year-old stated: “It’s hugely important and it’s a massive help for us players to develop. When we are younger players, particularly tight five forwards, it allows us to work closely and get game time externally from the Club, but still allows us a venue where we can be the more experienced players at the University, which is a real opposite to our position at the Bath Rugby, but then it allows us to gain that experience and know what that feels like and then hopefully grow into that role at the Club in the coming years as we mature.”
“It gives players a real tangible pathway that if players commit to the system then there is an opportunity to end up playing for the Club. It gives us a real opportunity to get game time and really lead a group and enjoy playing rugby with that group of players at the University and I think it is really important for us to have that place to enjoy rugby and build yourself as a player.”
“It gives me a real opportunity to stay close to the club. I still train here on Friday’s. I do all of my strength and conditioning training here and I attend as many meetings and reviews as possible. It just means that when I do come back for Premiership Shield and the Premiership Cup or if I am ever needed and get called up then I am able to fit back in quite seamlessly because I was never that far away. It’s perfect for lads that also have aspirations in other areas, so for me academically it allows me to work my commitments there around playing rugby and acquire a broader skill set.
Cordwell and the rest of the senior academy representatives at University of Bath see a familiar face and are being led on the training paddock by Academy Pathway Coach Louis Messer. The prop believes Messer compliments the partnership and has a close relationship with the squad at the University of Bath and the Senior Academy players at Bath Rugby.
Cordwell said: “Louis Messer has been great, and I’ve been part of his journey as he has developed as a coach over my three years at the University of Bath. It’s clear to see how he has grown in confidence and command. The squad love him, and we all have a great relationship with him both on and off the field.
“He is really good for team morale but also firm on the team when he needs to be. Messer wants the side playing expansive, dominant rugby that won’t detract from our set-piece dominance which is where Bath are traditionally strong. It gives opportunities for all players on the field to play expansive rugby and against good teams.”