TOM BRADSHAW: Acts of stupidity drag Bath Rugby's name through the mud again
Andrew Brownsword must be thrilled. This deeply principled man, who single-handedly keeps Bath Rugby afloat by pumping cash into it, is once again witnessing his club being dragged through the mire.
A strict Methodist, Brownsword has high standards. And I can't help wondering just how much patience he is going to have left following the latest turmoil to envelop the club.
Bath Rugby plc currently makes insufficient money to cover its costs, meaning Brownsword has to dip his hand into his pocket each season to enable the players to receive their salaries.
I'm sure Brownsword doesn't expect all of that money to go on Bovril and rare editions of Dickens, but he probably does expect the players he bankrolls to act as good ambassadors for the club when they are out and about.
Limited Deal. All day wedding photography only £545.00View details
All day wedding photography only £545.00
From Bridal preparations to first dance.
250+ Hi Res images on disc with full printing rights.
Professional photography at affordable prices.
Free no obligation consultations.
Offer subject to availability.
Book before 31st May 2013.
Available in Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
Contact: 01225 439257
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
And that's why his displeasure at the latest shenanigans involving players from the club is likely to be considerable.
Let me point out that I'm no prig. Rugby players are entitled to an end of season booze-up, and it would be surprising if such festivities did not lead to a few high-jinks.
What is less palatable is a very public display of excess, culminating in an official club inquiry and a star player suddenly announcing that he is leaving the club.
No doubt there are some players who think they should be allowed to get off their faces with their team mates in public and get a bit lairy. They are wrong.
Ever since the Matt Stevens cocaine scandal, certain quarters of the media have had their sights trained on Bath Rugby. 'If one of them's at it, others are too' has been the attitude of some journalists. 'There must be a drug culture there.'
The players, unless they are utterly stupid, must have been aware that they were under extreme scrutiny from the red-top press – a red-top press that would show all the mercy of the Burmese junta should they step so much as an inch out of line.
They must have been aware that any public misdemeanour – even a minor one – could trigger a storm, whether justified or unjustified.
To expect them to retire to bed at 9pm with a mug of something hot and a good book might be a bit much but – given what happened with Stevens – you would expect some restraint.
Surely, after the star prop's suspension for cocaine use, the club's senior management must have put the writing on the wall in bold.
And that's why I expect the management to come down like a ton of bricks on any player it finds acted inappropriately during the festivities in London.
What's important to point out is that not all of the Bath squad felt obliged to go on a day-long bender to the capital just hours after losing in the Premiership semi-final.
As Duncan Bell wrote in these pages last week, he cleared out his garage and installed a gym.
What does this suggest to you? It suggests to me that while some players at the club are keen to hit the party trail whenever they get the chance, there are others who are more grounded, mature and respectable.
For the sake of Bath Rugby's future – and for the sake of retaining Andrew Brownsword's support – I hope an increasing number migrate to the latter camp.