The Bath Rugby coaches were faced with a conundrum last season: how to fill a spot in their backline vacated by a talented fullback who had made over 200 appearances for the Club in a distinguished career? Enter Luke Arscott.
Arscott’s career belies the fact that the fullback is just 30, his game enriched by campaigns from National League One upwards. His rugby life started at Plymouth, his hometown, but it was the lure of Colts rugby an hour’s drive away at Exeter which took him away at just 15 years old.
“I stayed there for a couple of years and managed to break into the first team,” says Arscott, who was boosted by a six-inch growth spurt in as many months not long after he arrived. “I wasn’t contracted at Exeter, though. Graham Dawe [formerly of Bath Rugby], who was coach of Plymouth Albion at the time, then asked me to come back and play for them, which was ideal for me.”
The Devonian’s time at the Brickfields lasted three years, and he performed well enough to gain the attention of Bristol Rugby, which prompted a move to the big city in 2006. There, he experienced the high of three years in the Premiership and the low of being relegated to the Championship.
“It was good, especially going into a squad with the likes of Mark Regan and Darren Crompton [both former Bath players], guys that had been around for quite a few years,” he says. “There were quite a lot of young lads there who were of a similar sort of age, so I managed to have quite a good time as well away from rugby.”
In his first year at Bristol, the club ended up finishing an impressive third in the Premiership, going all the way to the semi-final play-offs where they went down 26-14 against Leicester at Welford Road. “We probably overachieved that year,” Arscott believes. “The following year we got a taste of the Heineken Cup, played against Cardiff, and actually beat Stade Francais at the Memorial Ground.”
The momentum soon tailed off for Bristol though: they finished eighth the following season and, in 2009, were relegated to the Championship.
What went wrong? Arscott cites numerous potential reasons as to what led to their relegation. “That year we were in the Heineken Cup took a big toll on us. The bubble had burst. Everyone got wise to what we were doing; there were a few law changes and we didn’t adapt very well. We ended up only winning two or three games.”
Despite the eventual downturn in fortunes at Bristol, Arscott still holds many memories of his time at the Memorial Ground dear. One of them is living with his younger brother and Bristol teammate Tom...
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