Famous faces return to celebrate Bath's European triumph
Bath Rugby Supporters’ Club held a party last week to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Bath Rugby becoming champions of Europe.
It was on January 31, 1998 that Andy Robinson’s men beat holders Brive 19-18 at the Stade Lescure in Bordeaux to become the first British club to win the Heineken Cup.
More than 120 BRSC members, other supporters and guests gathered in the clubhouse to remember that famous occasion.
They were joined on the night by Angus Meek, the Bath president at the time, Bath’s current CEO Nick Blofeld and Academy director Danny Grewcock.
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Bath Rugby managing director Jeremy Wilton began by providing a fascinating insight into the early organisational issues and political wranglings between the various Unions and the tournament sponsors - with whom he had some involvement at the time – and he also acted as MC for the rest of the evening.
Four former players - Phil de Glanville, Nathan Thomas, John Mallet and Jeremy Guscott - then took part in an impromptu panel and entertained everyone with their memories from the day, the match itself, the post-match celebrations and the nature of the competition as a stage between domestic club and international rugby.
Other former players who were unable to attend – captain Andy Nicol, scorer of all 19 points Jon Callard, Ieuan Evans, Eric Peters, and Dan Lyle – sent their personal memories of the triumph, and others – Mark Regan, Victor Ubogu, Martin Haag, Nigel Redman, Mike Catt, Adedayo Adebayo, Russell Earnshaw, Ricky Pellow and Matt Perry – all sent their apologies and best wishes.
Gary Gold and his coaching team of Toby Booth, Mike Ford and Neal Hatley were up next to tap into their individual experiences of the European Cup and add their considered opinions on the role the competition now plays for clubs.
They also discussed the part it plays in the development and preparation of players for the big step-up to international rugby, as well as taking some questions from the floor.
The fans’ perspectives of the 1997/8 tournament and the final itself were remembered by some of those fortunate enough to be in Bordeaux that day – and Mike Plummer, Anne Kirkham and others brought along some fascinating items of memorabilia.
To round off the evening, while enjoying the buffet provided by Bath Rugby, most of the attendees watched a re-run of the game and were almost as gripped by the tension and excitement 15 years on as they had been by the events of a sunny afternoon in France back in 1998.