Welcome to the Rec for our Boxing Day game against local rivals Gloucester, a classic derby game which will be fiercely contested by both teams.
I hope you have been able to enjoy your Christmas as planned with family and friends, and that you are all keeping safe and well, especially with the surge in Covid cases. For any of you or your families who are symptomatic and unwell, I hope you recover swiftly.
I am myself isolating at home and will therefore sadly be watching the game on TV. I know that every one of you at the Rec will be loud and passionate as always cheering the team on towards the win we all hunger.
Last week, we announced Brent Janse van Rensburg joining us with immediate effect, bringing his expertise and experience in defence to add to our coaching group for the current season. Brent has been in the training environment for the full week building up to today’s match, and we welcome him to his first game at the Rec today.
We were also delighted to announce that Johann van Graan will be joining as Head Coach next season. Johann is a world-class coach who will play a fundamental role in our future success.
He will join us from Munster having led five successful seasons at the province, before which he helped coach the Springboks to a third-place finish at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and contributed to three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls. We have an outstanding and committed group of players and staff here at the club; Johann’s experience and expertise will add significantly to this.
Our current performances have led us to challenge what we are doing in the here and now, and to seek additional expertise and experience to help us get on track delivering against our ambition to compete for trophies.
This week we announced the appointment of Edward Griffiths as Bath Rugby’s new Chairman with effect from 1 January 2022. Bruce will relinquish his current position as Chairman, whilst continuing as owner to support the club emotionally and financially, providing whatever support we all need to make the club successful.
Ed’s appointment brings valuable experience, expertise and resource. He will work with me, Stuart and our senior management to help us accelerate our plans at the club.
Off the pitch, we were delighted to confirm earlier this week that the Court of Appeal has ruled the 1922 Covenants, thought by some to be a barrier to redeveloping at the Rec, are not enforceable. The ruling provides the certainty needed to bring forward comprehensive plans for a new stadium at the Rec and work on design proposals will re-commence in the New Year.
This is an important step forward for the club and the city. Redevelopment will create new jobs and boost visitor spends, whilst helping us to provide education and support opportunities for young people who need it most.
These are significant and exciting announcements for all of us. At the same time, I must mention the recent and tragic loss of Peter Downey, lifelong supporter and so much more to the club. Peter had become a friend and confidante to me, he gave so much to the club and he will be dearly missed.
In the here and now we are of course focussed on that elusive win. We all hope it comes today at the Rec providing much needed cheer and joy as we head towards the turn of the year.
Thank you for your continued support from everyone at Bath Rugby. We hope you stay safe and that you have a happy, healthy and prosperous Christmas and New Year.