Bath Rugby host last season’s Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup champions Saracens at the Rec tomorrow evening. Here’s a closer look at Mark McCall’s men…
Ground – Allianz Park (10,000)
Head of Rugby – Mark McCall
Gallagher Premiership finish 2018/19 – 1st (Champions)
Heineken Challenge Cup 2018/19 – Champions
Ospreys (H) - 44-3 (W)
Racing 92 (A) - 30-10 (L)
Gloucester (A) - 12-21 (W)
ONES TO WATCH
Billy Vunipola has grown into one of the world’s leading rugby players. Born in Australia to Tongan parents, the number 8 spent his childhood in Wales and the South West of England before winning a scholarship to attend the prestigious Harrow School. Whilst at the London school, he was picked up by Wasps Academy where he made his senior debut aged 18 and featured 30 times in two seasons before departing for Saracens.
Vunipola’s destructive performances earned him the Premiership Land Rover Discovery of the Season in a campaign which the Men in Black broke the Premiership record for points accumulated in a regular term. A growing influence year on year, the England international eclipsed a century of matches for the Men in Black in April 2019 and has become an integral part of the Sarries squad. Excelling at club level has allowed Vunipola to express himself on the international stage with England, making his debut on the 2013 Summer Tour of Argentina. He has since amassed over 40 caps and played in the World Cup Final in Japan. Billy comes from a rich vein of rugby talent. His father and uncle played for Tonga while cousin and Bath Rugby star Taulupe Faletau has been capped by Wales and British & Irish Lions.
An instrumental player for both club and country, Owen Farrell has continually impressed the rugby world with his goal-kicking and game management. After switching codes from rugby league, the fly-half made his Saracens debut in 2008 aged just 17, the youngest player at the time to have ever played professional rugby union in England.
His breakthrough came in the 2010/11 season, when he capitalised on his chance in a first-team environment. The British & Irish Lion’s Saracens success has also been replicated in his international game, which has gone from strength to strength. Earning his first senior England cap in 2012, a year rounded off by a resounding win over the All Blacks at Twickenham, he was also a recipient of an IRB Player of the Year nomination alongside two New Zealand legends in Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Farrell has amassed over 150 appearances for Saracens, over 50 caps for England and in 2013 became a Lion for the first time, replicating the feat again on the 2017 tour. He has since gone on to captain his country and led them to the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final. Farrell’s stellar career thus far has seen him various individual accolades, including 2017 EPCR European Player of the Year after the club’s memorable win over Clermont Auvergne in Edinburgh.
Maro Itoje’s rise to the top of the rugby world has been truly meteoric, scooping up many individual accolades whilst contributing hugely at club and international level. The lock, who is equally at home on the flank, is one of a number of success stories from the Saracens Academy, stepping up to the first team for his debut in January 2013. Since then he has captained the club to victory in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and developed into a world class option with astounding physicality and defensive attributes.
The four-time Premiership winner and three-time European Champion's CV makes for impressive reading. ‘The Pearl’ guided England U20 to their second-ever World Rugby Championship title before gaining a full cap in the 2016 Six Nations where Eddie Jones’ side were crowned Grand Slam champions. He followed up with three Test starts on England’s victorious summer tour of Australia and another Six Nations gong before becoming a British & Irish Lion in 2017. He is of course also a World Cup finalist and was named European Player of the Year and Land Rover Discovery of the Season in 2016. Itoje joined Farrell and Vunipola in helping England to the Rugby World Cup Final in Japan.
LAST MEETING AT THE REC
March 8th 2019
Bath Rugby 18 (9)
Pens: Priestland (8)
Saracens 9 (3)
Pens: Lozowski 3
Bath: Homer; Wilson, Joseph, Willison, McConnochie; Priestland, Chudley (capt); Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Attwood, Douglas, Stooke, Reid, Mercer.
Replacements: Batty, Obano, Perenise, Davies, Ellis, Fotuali'i, Burns, Clark.
Saracens: Malins; Strettle, Tompkins, Lozowski, Lewington; Goode (co-capt), Spencer; Barrington, Woolstencroft, Koch, Skelton, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Burger, Wray (co-capt)
Replacements: Gray, Lamositele, Judge, Day, Earl, Whiteley, Bosch, Gallagher.
WORD FROM THE SARACENS CAMP
“The Rec is probably one of the toughest places to play in the Premiership. It’s very hostile, but we’re excited and hopefully we can perform,” Titi Lamositele
There are limited tickets to watch Bath Rugby take on Saracens under the Friday night lights by clicking here or you can call the Ticket Office on 01225 536 900.