Bath Rugby’s opening game of the 2019/20 campaign at Exeter Chiefs was not only the first opportunity of the new season for the team to pull on the jersey, but the first ever, for a number of the Club’s young men to pull on the Blue, Black and White for the first team.
Rhys Davies, Tom de Glanville, Gabe Hamer-Webb, Nahum Merigan and Max Ojomoh all made their full senior debuts for Bath Rugby, with Tom Jeanes, Simone Elrick, George Worboys and Arthur Cordwell also making their first senior appearances as second half replacements.
A total of eight players making their debuts have been developed over a number of years within the Club’s pathway and with nine homegrown players making their first team bow, this will be a starting point to push on into the new season to begin achieving more of their goals with Bath Rugby.
The core objective of Bath Rugby Academy, to develop players that progress into the first team in order to deliver a 50% homegrown squad by 2023 has been clearly communicated in the past year, and days like last Saturday gives a small insight into the potential of these players to help the Club realise this objective.
The journeys each individual has taken to this point in their young careers are varied but they have a number of things in common, such as their long-term affiliation to Bath Rugby, and time spent together developing in the Bath Rugby Pathway through the age-grade teams alongside each other and the Club’s coaching staff. For de Glanville, Hamer-Webb, Jeanes, Merigan and Worboys, they also have their time developing within the Bath Rugby partnership programme at Beechen Cliff School in common.
Meanwhile, Cordwell, Davies and Elrick have all progressed through the Academy in recent times through the Club’s partnership with the University of Bath.
Performance Director, Andy Rock, said: “The performance against Exeter is something we are looking to learn a lot from as a squad to help drive our game. When looking more at the development of the young men who played for us, the experience was invaluable for them. For us to see these guys out on the pitch together, so many of them on debut, there was a lot of pride.
“We’ve seen them grow up since the ages of 13 or 14 in our programme, and we have seen their development over the years. The ups and downs that each of them have had and the togetherness that they have developed, it’s hugely powerful.
“In terms of the ambition of the Club to deliver a 50% homegrown squad, and most importantly, one that is capable of winning titles and trophies, the game on Saturday was a small starting point. Some of the performances we saw were very good, Rhys Davies had so many involvements in the game making 21/21 tackles with some further positive impacts on our performance. He played one of his best games in a Bath shirt.
“We were so happy and pleased for Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Max Ojomoh and Nahum Merigan, who after only just transitioning from our U18s, all played a full 80 minutes. It’s a small start, but a really meaningful one.”