Bathed in glory

May 3, 1996

Such is the relationship between Bath University and the city's rugby club, that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Richard Mawditt, ex-registrar of the university and chairman of the club, dates the relationship back to the mid-1980s when Tom Hudson introduced his fitness and training innovations to club and university.

Since then the club has enjoyed huge success. The league title won last Saturday was their sixth in nine years, while they seek a tenth cup win in 13 years tomorrow against Leicester at Twickenham.

Dr Mawditt says: "The club has been at the core of the city's identity over the past decade and ensured that the name of Bath is known all round the world. For the university to be associated with the club is a very good thing."

A key part of the link to the university was established four years ago when club captain Andy Robinson asked the university's head of sport Ged Roddy to help with pre-season training. "I was asked in for six weeks and I've been involved ever since as fitness adviser and player development officer," said Dr Roddy. "Any club which wants long-term success has to prioritise player development, not just fitness and skill." He believes that the arrival of professionalism will make that even more vital. Director of rugby John Hall agrees. "We think the university's input - sports science, medicine and training facilities - gives us a definite edge."

That edge may help Bath to stay at the top against better-funded clubs. The need to nurture their own talent also drives the club's rugby scholarship programme, sponsored by Western Freight."This will help attract top-class talent, but will also ensure that those who do not go on to a professional career have an alternative based on their academic achievements", says Mr Hall.

On any day players from the club can found on the campus. Several, including Nigel Redman, Richard Hill and Gareth Chilcott have coached the university team. Four of the club's cup winning team last year were students. Two of them, John Mallett and Jon Sleightholme, have since played for England.

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