Tributes paid to Dr Tom Hudson – the University of Bath’s first Director of Sport, Olympian, sporting scholarships pioneer and rugby coaching great

20 December 2023

Dr Tom Hudson, who served as the University of Bath’s first Director of Sport from 1971 to 1992, sadly passed away on Tuesday (19th December).

A passionate advocate of helping students achieve at the highest level of sport while continuing successfully with their academic studies, Tom’s trailblazing spell saw Bath become the first University in the UK to offer sporting scholarships.

He also oversaw the opening of the original sports hall, now known as Founders Hall, and helped to massively expand the sporting opportunities available to students.

Stephen Baddeley, the current Director of Sport at the University, paid tribute to his predecessor, saying: “Tom was a big man in both stature and presence, a formidable force of nature.

“As a former Olympian, he was the inspirational driving force for sport at the University. Through establishing the first sports scholarships in England to driving the development of on-campus sporting facilities, notably the Founders Hall and associated swimming pool, Tom laid the solid foundations that have enabled the University to become a leading player in the sporting landscape.”

Dr Tom Hudson was inducted into the University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport in 2015 by current Director of Sport Stephen Baddeley (left) and Professor Kevin Edge, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath

It wasn’t just at the University of Bath that Tom’s impact on the sporting world was felt. He represented Great Britain in Modern Pentathlon at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games (click here to read his recollections) and, after leaving the Royal Horse Guards in 1959, developed the sports and physical education programmes at Sheffield University and Swansea University.

Tom Hudson in 1971, the year he was appointed as Director of Sport at the University of Bath

He was also a renowned fitness coach and, after joining them in 1966, helped Llanelli RFC become one of rugby’s most celebrated club sides, their place in sporting immortality being secured when they beat the All Blacks in 1972.

Tom went on to work in the same role with Bath Rugby during their golden period in the 1980s, forming a part of the “famous three” coaching team with Jack Rowell and Dave Robson. He was inducted into Bath Rugby’s Hall of Fame in 2018, three years after being welcomed into the University of Bath’s Hall of Fame for Sport.

Football also benefitted from Tom’s passion and knowledge, with FIFA introducing fitness testing for match officials following the publication in 1978 of a then revolutionary guide to fitness for football referees.

Tom wrote the book in collaboration with Welsh referee Clive Thomas, who officiated at both the 1974 and 1978 World Cup Finals. He was among the many guests who attended Tom’s induction to the University’s Hall of Fame in 2015, saying: “I always said that Tom was 20 years ahead of his time. When you look up great in the dictionary, it says large, impressive, excellent – they all apply to Tom.”

Tom’s funeral will take place at Haycombe Cemetery’s Top Chapel on Thursday 18th January at 2.30pm. The reception will be at 3.30pm in the Claverton Rooms on the University of Bath campus.

The thoughts of everyone at the University of Bath are with Tom’s wife, Jan, and his family.

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