Excitement and ambition levels high as Team Bath men’s 1st XV prepare to resume BUCS Super Rugby action after long wait
It may be 18 months since their last league match but ambition remains high for the University of Bath men’s 1st XV ahead of their eagerly-awaited return to action in the 2021-22 BUCS Super Rugby season.
The Rengen-sponsored squad make the journey to Yorkshire to face Leeds Beckett on Wednesday 29th September (kick-off 2pm) and can’t wait to get going as the country’s leading higher-education rugby institutions resume rivalries following the postponement of the 2020-21 campaign.
Back-row forward Ed Ashcroft, who will co-captain Team Bath with George Cave this season, said: “It’s great to be back together and we’re all enjoying each other’s company. We’ve had some good training weeks since August and everything is really positive. There are a lot of new faces but they have settled in quickly and there is so much excitement ahead of the season start at Beckett.”
Team Bath’s last competitive match in March 2020, the final round of league fixtures during the 2019-20 season, was also against Leeds Beckett but much has changed for all 11 clubs in the competition since then with two years of new intake having never experienced BUCS Super Rugby before while a host of established players have graduated.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “I think it’s unknown what to expect having missed a year. We don’t know how good the opposition are and until we get into the season we won’t know how good our level is but we’re really positive about the work we’ve been doing in training and how the guys have been connecting.
“The mood in the squad is really good. They’re happy to be back with each other and back with their mates, that whole camaraderie that team sport gives you is really showing through.
“We’d always like to finish in the top four and I think that is achievable and realistic. We have ambitions to win the BUCS Super Rugby league but we want to play a brand of rugby that the guys like and can enjoy the experience.”
Ashcroft, who was a regular starter for Team Bath during the 2019-20 season, added: “We’ll try to be a team that keeps the ball alive, looks to play expansive rugby from anywhere and is exciting to watch.
“It’s a long journey up to Leeds for our first match but it’s about getting to know what we want to do, how we want to play, getting our tactical game right and hopefully that will help us get a good start to the season.”
The first opportunity for the new-look team to run out in front of home fans at the Team Bath Sports Training Village comes on Wednesday 6th October as they play host to local rivals Hartpury.
This will be the fifth season of BUCS Super Rugby, which has provided a high standard of competition for student-rugby players and a platform for many to develop their skills and progress into the professional game.
They include a host of Team Bath players who have gone on to play in the Premiership and PRO15 leagues, as well as internationally, including former captains Will Britton and Tom Doughty, who now play for Gloucester and Bath Rugby respectively, and Jack Kenningham, who helped Harlequins win the Premiership title in June and is part of Eddie Jones’ training squad ahead of England’s Autumn internationals.