Toby Booth wants Bath Rugby to follow champions Harlequins’ example
Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins are the benchmark Bath Rugby aim to aspire to when they get their European campaign under way this weekend.
For the first time in five seasons, Bath will not compete in the continent’s premier competition, the Heineken Cup, instead lining up in the Amlin Cup.
They have fond memories of the competition, however, with it providing the club’s last source of silverware during their previous participation, defeating Worcester Warriors 24-16 in the 2008 final.
Now first-team coach Toby Booth wants to follow in Quins’ footsteps after seeing them go from Amlin Cup winners in 2011 to Premiership kings a year later.
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“Harlequins are a great example,” said Booth, ahead of Bath’s Pool 4 opener at Bucharest Wolves on Saturday (3pm).
“They had a great run and great results with a young team. It built self belief and all of a sudden a year later look what happened.
“The cup run was important to their performances now, so it shows if you can take that and couple it with shrewd recruitment, you can really improve significantly quite quickly.”
This time last year, Bath’s continental expeditions involved trips to Leinster and Montpellier, a far cry from this weekend’s Romanian adventure.
Although no longer competing against Europe’s elite, Booth says the club will give the Amlin Cup the full respect it deserves.
“It’s a competition which involves Bath, so therefore it’s important,” said Booth. “It’s an opportunity for us to gain some positive results, to gain confidence and also to gain some silverware. From that point of view it’s very important.
“I appreciate it doesn’t have the same ring to it but it doesn’t make it any less significant. We certainly won’t be taking it lightly and the fact that we are going away makes it even harder. It will be a very stiff challenge.
“I’m a big believer that the Premiership is a reflection of where you are as a group because it’s so attritional, so tough and so consistent.
“You have to front up every week and how you do in that gives you an idea of how good your squad actually is.
“To deliver again and again and again means cup competitions become easier. If you look at our squad depth maybe this is a blessing in disguise.”
With their second European fixture coming as early as next Thursday in Agen, players who have enjoyed infrequent game time this season are expected to be given a chance to impress over the course of the week.
“We’ve got players on international duty and we’ve got a pretty steep injury list at the moment, so some of our choices are made for us,” said Booth.
“We also want to reward people because the United team have been playing well.
“I think we’ve had more success in the A league this year than in the last two put together, so we’d be paying lip service to it if we didn’t reward people who have put their hands up.
“Ultimately, whoever puts on that shirt is under no illusions. If they are a regular then they need to perform and lead the way. If they aren’t then it’s their opportunity, so it’s up to them to take it.”