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Friday May 27, 2022

Griffiths Out As Bath Set For A Major Rebuild

Former Saracens CEO Ed Griffiths has found himself on the outside looking in at Bath following a tough seven-month spell at the club.

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Having arrived at the club last autumn with the view of assessing the club’s structures in a bid to turn around their fortunes, Griffiths is rumoured to have clashed with several senior Bath Rugby officials.

Replacing club owner Bruce Craig as chairman at the club in January, Griffiths who is known for his no-nonsense approach reportedly clashed with Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper and CEO Tarquin McDonald.

The difference in opinion appears to have stemmed from Griffiths style of micromanagement that saw him involved with all aspects of the club.

Getting off on the right foot with Hooper was immediately dealt a blow when he removed the former captain’s role as team selector. Instead, Griffiths handed the role to Neal Hatley, this change in policy followed the announcement that current Munster boss Johan van Graan would be arriving to take over in the summer.

Van Graan’s arrival brings with it a demotion for Hatley who has been relegated to forward’s coach.

Moving Hooper away from selection saw a noticeable difference in the Bath selection policies and was one of the many steps being taken to remove his influence on the club.

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Other noticeable areas of change for Hooper was his lack of media appearances as well as clarity on his role with the signing of players contracts.

On the subject of contracts, it was reported that England international Jonathan Joseph would not be offered a new contract with rumours circulating that he would be moving to Sale.

Following Hooper informing Joseph of this information the centre was offered a contract extension which he has subsequently signed. Hooper then attempted to sign Cornish Pirates second row Ben Scragg before the deal was reportedly sunk by Griffiths.

Tensions appeared to be at their highest ahead of Bath’s Challenge Cup quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Edinburgh. It is reported that the coaching staff were to be left out of a bonding session to Marseille. In the end the coaching staff attended the session, but it was clear that relationships were certainly frayed.

The final point of deliberation is reported to be Griffiths wanting to move Bath out of their current training base at Farleigh House to a location in the city. This was a point that that appeared to be a deal breaker due to the 99-year lease that is in place for Farleigh House as well as the significant investment put in by Mr Craig.

With the season coming to a close next weekend the future of Bath Rugby remains relatively uncertain. Van Graan will look to bring stability with Hooper relegated to a more background role and Griffiths out of the picture.

For Van Graan the situation is not an easy one with British & Irish Lions Anthony Watson and Talupe Faletau both leaving for greener pastures. Bath fans can expect Van Graan to attempt a similar strategy to the one he employed at Munster by bringing in South African players with Chris Cloete already confirmed as a signing from Munster.

How the rebuild of one of England’s great clubs goes over the next few seasons will be an interesting process to follow.

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