FAN'S VIEW: European triumph recalled before local bragging rights regained
Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at Bath Rugby...
Last Thursday, the Supporters’ Club held a party to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Bath’s historic Heineken Cup victory – the last major trophy to be seized by the core of the later golden-era Jack Rowell sides.
By then, of course, former inspirational flanker Andy Robinson had taken up the coaching reins as he masterminded the European icing of Bath’s domestic rugby cake – represented by almost two decades of dominance of the English club scene.
As I sat in Bucharest’s national rugby stadium back in October, watching Bath’s first steps towards this season’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, my mind went back to the successful 2008 Challenge Cup campaign and the great party at The Rec clubhouse afterwards.
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That was a significant achievement, and proper silverware to boot, but the second-tier European trophy will always live in the shadow of its more illustrious big brother, so cannot truly be considered to be a major. Just as in golf, rugby has its own pecking order and associated snobbery.
That was more than ten years after the capture of the Heineken Cup – ten years and no-one had done anything to mark the anniversary, as far as I knew.
I resolved there and then that BRSC should do something to commemorate the passing of 15 years and, with the help of former players and supporters who were in Bordeaux, we did.
By rights I should have been at Kingsholm on Saturday to see Bath’s push for a semi-final spot in the Anglo-Welsh Cup but the ever-irritating fixture schedules meant the Calcutta Cup had to take priority for me as a RFU honorary steward.
The afternoon went well, however, and not just because of the result at Twickenham. Shortly before kick-off, Evert Abendanon came to see me and passed on the joyous news of Bath’s bonus-point win against an outclassed Gloucester – including a try for his son, Nick, on a ground at which he had never before tasted victory.
Just the tonic for a Bath supporter who was as eager to see his national side put down a clear marker for the 2013 Six Nations as he was disappointed not to have been present when the much-vaunted Shed emptied well before Stephen Donald’s late try twisted the knife.
With the confidence surely gained from reaching the knock-out stages of two cup competitions, Bath return to Premiership action for four key contests – three of them at home – and will be determined to improve their unsatisfactory league position.
After hosting Worcester and London Irish, Bath visit Franklins Gardens before welcoming Gloucester to The Rec at the beginning of March.
And we should relish another chance to take on our fierce rivals and keep hold of those local bragging rights.