FAN’S VIEW: Whatever happened to the spirit of rugby?
Bath Rugby supporter Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at The Rec….
A trip to Kingsholm for Bath supporters brings with it the anticipation of that most exciting and important of contests – a local 'derby' - and last Saturday was no exception, despite Bath's poor recent record there.
My day had started really well, with my youngest son becoming a father at 2.30 am, and my first grandchild, Oliver, arriving safe and sound at Salisbury hospital.
On our way to the ground we visited Cheltenham to buy him something to keep out the worst of the expected winter weather, but then ran into something as unexpected as it was unpleasant.
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A wine bar and coffee house in the Montpellier district is not the sort of place that you would think could harbour the nastier side of rugby club rivalry, but as we sat down at an outside table we were 'greeted' by a group of 6 or so Gloucester 'fans'.
"What's that smell – I think it's Bath fans" – "can you smell the fear?" was aimed in our direction from one of the cherry and white shirts. Erica was quite upset – so we left immediately.
There is no fear – not even venturing into that cathedral of near the knuckle banter and contrived intimidation, the Shed – nor should there ever be. This is sport, after all, and a supposed civilised one at that – at least off of the field of play.
Such behaviour surely is as rare as all genuine supporters of the 'game for hooligans, played by gentlemen' would trust that it is - or rugby will be the poorer for it.
Our reception at Kingsholm was as courteous and welcoming as before – and I am certain that Nigel Davies and his players, and all of the staff we meet each season, would have been horrified at such an unnecessary stain on the reputation of such a proud club emanating from a few of its self-proclaimed followers.
The match itself saw Stephen Donald shock Gloucester with a stunning try inside the first minute, and Bath went on to enjoy much the better of the first half exchanges.
An old failing of not turning genuine superiority into a sufficiently dominant position on the score board came back to haunt us in the second forty, however, as a now fired-up Gloucester produced a hitherto unseen level of intensity that Bath could not match.
The home side's 10-0 'win' in the second half left Gary Gold's side with a solitary losing bonus point for their efforts, and the palpable mood of sheer disappointment was etched upon the team's faces as they boarded the coach.
Another potential victory had just slipped from Bath's grasp, in what promises to be the closest of Premiership competitions – at both top and bottom – for many years.