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A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview

Dempsey: expectations

By P G Tips
August 23 2018

The new kit is out; the new season is about to begin. There are also new players, new coaching and support staff and a new experience for Todd Blackadder at Bath – a full pre season with most of the squad fit. There have been positive vibes coming from Farleigh House, so can we hope for new beginnings in 2019? Or will it be the “same old, same old”, good at times but not good enough, dazzling occasionally but inconsistent and also - rans in the trophy hunts? Let’s take a look at the drivers for success.



Bath have been busy recruiting for next season. Seven players have joined the ranks, most of them backs. That won’t please all supporters, many of whom want a tougher, more dominant pack, but the experience of Paz and Van Rooyen (in as injury cover for Obano) add considerably to the front row resources. The backs are a mix of experience (Chudley, Roberts, Willison) and promise (Cokanasiga, McConnochie). Better control from scrum half and go forward at centre were obvious gaps in the armoury last campaign, so I expect Chudley and Roberts to influence both style and performance, while finishing power and options are greatly enhanced, which should relieve the over reliance on the magic of Rokodoguni.


Several old favourites can also be considered “new men” as they return from injury, notably Dave Attwood, available to Bath for the first time in a season and a half and Rokodoguni who missed half of Bath’s frustrating 2018 season.


It may be the new coaching and support staff however who prove Bath’s most inspired signings. The prospect of Attack Coach Girvan Dempsey sparking Bath’s attacking style as he did with Leinster is mouth watering, while Katie Warriner, the Sports Performance and Mental Skills coach, has an impeccable pedigree including Olympic Team GB (particularly Gold winning Ladies Hockey) and England Sevens. Both club and fans will have high expectations of both. If they can address the weaknesses of last season, Bath should win more of the tight games –especially at home. Finally, there is the new Head of Medical appointed (according to the Chronicle) and soon to be announced. He or she will also have their work cut out in this attritional era to reverse the worrying injury rate that blighted last term.



 Many of the new names mentioned above have clearly been brought in to tackle the areas in need of most improvement. These are:

  • Possession – 20% is not enough! Let’s hope this was a priority in pre season!
  • Game Plan – attacking mind-set, choice of options, better control of territory.

  • Discipline – not only too many penalties, but the type of penalty and where they occur, both on the field and the timing in the match
  • Mentality – three home games, lost by a single score, consigned Bath to sixth in 2018. Avoidable errors were all too often the culprit. Victory in those three would have seen Bath in the playoffs. All staff and players, not Katie alone, should take responsibility for a marked improvement.
  • Luck – especially with injuries. Here, better conditioning and return to play management can influence the luck. Dominant game plans and ruthless attitudes shape a team’s own luck.



Of course none of the desired improvements happen in a vacuum, opposing teams will want to have their say. Exeter, Saracens and Wasps have led the way for three seasons, with the first pair clearly ahead of their Ricoh rivals last term. All three seem favoured candidates for the playoffs again. Newcastle Falcons may struggle to repeat their feats of last season, but Gloucester, Leicester, Northampton and Sale have all recruited big names, mainly from the southern hemisphere, and will be jostling with Bath for that fourth playoff place. Saints, with Franks, Barrow, Haskell, Biggar, Tuitavake and Naiyaraovo joining and coached by the highly rated Chris Boyd, should make big strides –if they can deal with the inconsistency that dogged them last year. Gloucester too have big name arrivals- Marais, Mostert, Grobler, Kriel in the forwards, but have also said farewell to tough grunt in Hibbard, Afoa and Moriarty. The rise of their star will depend on how well they can integrate Danny Cipriani and attune the squad to his mercurial talents.


Leicester have strengthened their front row resources in a search for the “old Tigers spirit” but appear still to be struggling with a debate over game plan and internal unrest. They should be a real threat as usual, but have slid down the Premiership table for the past five seasons. This could be a season of rebuilding for them. Sale, always a tough nut at home, can be relied on to upset a few aspirations but themselves seem to lack the class (wings apart) needed for a top for finish.




Bath fans will be more hopeful than expectant and can be forgiven for scepticism about new dawns and ambitious claims. Little should be expected from the Champions Cup “group of death’ except some attractive venues and, hopefully, exciting play. However, the new arrivals have not come to make up the numbers but to make a difference. If they have the desired impact we should see marked improvement, more positive and attractive play and ability to challenge the best. A place in the Premiership playoffs should be the minimum aspiration. We will get a better idea of how achieveable that is after the friendly against Scarlets. I will stick my neck out and say Bath will grab fourth.





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A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
23/08/2018 15:35
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:09:02:09:11:36 by CoochieCoo.

Bath Hammer
Bath Hammer (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 04:10
Very good assessment PGT. As you rightly say, Bath fans have more reason to be hopeful than expectant. There has only been one year, 2014, when the team reached my aspirations & there have bee endlesss false dawns. We have certainly strengthened throughout but if we hadn’t I fear we would have been in the lower reaches baring in mind how others have added real quality. We have a chance of top 4 but that might be a step too far. Principally we want to see a significant improvement, wherever that takes us.

joethefanatic (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 06:33
Very nice review. I also think we'll be 4th behind Exeter, Sarries and the Tigs.

smiling smiley

... IMHO, of course.

Now in Honolulu

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:08:24:06:38:19 by joethefanatic.

BathMatt53 (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 07:50
Good to have you back PG - always a good read.

In my view, for the last 5 or so years we have always had a great squad, let down by:

- injuries;
- bad coaching; or
- brain farts from players under pressure.

I am encouraged by the fact that this season we will have a new medical team, Dempsey and Katie Warriner and whether we are in the playoffs or towards the bottom will hinge on those three addressing those issues to the best of their abilities.

[Adoptee 18/19: Man Mountain Dave Attwood, back in the BB&W and ready to smash]

Boldangrey (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 08:28
Can't argue with that logic, PG, but the two imponderables:

1 Injuries

2 Form going in to the playoffs.

Sit_Down (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 13:32
I think if Bath don't finish 4th then there is something fundamentally wrong. The squad is one of the deepest in the Prem.

Undecided about Northampton - they will either be exciting or shocking. Quins & Wuss will have a battle to finish above the Bears imo.

Mike the Taxi
Mike the Taxi (IP Logged)

Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 20:12
Could be a new beginning! Bath 19 v 7 Scarlets - HT

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:08:24:20:19:31 by Mike the Taxi.


Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 20:22
Good read!

Another preview here, putting Bath at 5, fair?



Re: A New Beginning? 2018- 19 Season Preview
24/08/2018 22:58
Mike the Taxi
Could be a new beginning! Bath 19 v 7 Scarlets - HT
And finished 45 - 12. Some very pleasing plays too. Cokeanasega scored a power try and an interception try. Very tasty.

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