The Story So Far
Bath Rugby Club has an unrivalled heritage of success, innovation and flair and has been part of the city’s DNA for over 150 years.
Formed in 1865, the Club was unlike other teams, which were selected based on educational or vocational credentials. Bath comprised players from all walks of life including labourers, builders and miners.
Bath Rugby was the first rugby club to develop bespoke player fitness programmes (1901), the first club to appoint a female president (Molly Gerrard, 1971) and was the first club to arrange kit and match sponsorship deals (1977).
The 1980s and 1990s
During the 1980s and 1990s, under the guidance of the Head Coach, Jack Rowell, the Club pioneered the development of a high performance culture, many elements of which have now become standard in sport. During this period the Club won six domestic league titles, 10 domestic cup titles (including four doubles), and was the first English Club to win the European Cup in 1998.
Since 1894 the Club has played at the Rec, in the heart of Bath, becoming part of the city’s vibrant cultural lifeblood.
In 2010 the Club moved its training and administrative operations to a purpose-built, state of the art facility at Farleigh House, some eight miles south east of Bath. This Grade II listed estate demonstrates the level of ambition at the Club and provides evidence of its ability to provide world-class, cutting edge training and corporate facilities in an exceptional heritage environment.
The focus for the Club is now at the Rec and the delivery of an exceptional stadium, which provides world-class facilities, riverside regeneration, enhanced sporting participation and wider community benefits for the City of Bath.
The Recreation Ground (The Rec) is one of the most iconic and recognised grounds in world rugby and showcases the City of Bath to a global audience.
Bath Rugby’s facilities occupy approximately one quarter of the Recreation Ground which is owned and operated by Bath Recreation Ltd, an independent charity. The remaining three quarters of the Recreation Ground is dedicated to Bath’s leisure centre and associated parking facilities, croquet lawns, all weather five-a-side football pitches and open grassed land used for sports and other events.
The purpose of the Bath Recreation Ltd is the provision of property in or near Bath for use in outdoor recreational facilities for the benefit of the public. The income received from its primary tenants (Bath Leisure Centre and Bath Rugby), enables the charity to continue investing in the provision of a wide range of sporting and recreational facilities including events at the Recreation Ground, and more widely across Bath. The redevelopment would secure Bath Rugby as a long-term tenant and provide a long-term source of funding for Bath Recreation Ground Trust in furthering its charitable activities.
Bath Rugby’s current facilities comprise a mix of permanent buildings and stands dating as far back as the 1950s, together with a series of temporary stands. The stadium experience falls well below the standards expected in the professional game, and the facilities are considered by some to be a blight on the architectural landscape of Bath. The adjoining riverside area, which could be a jewel in the city’s crown, is likewise in desperate need of revitalisation.
Whilst there has been recent appetite and ambition to redevelop the site, it has been necessary to clarify the potential parameters for any redevelopment. The ruling of the Charity First-Tier Tribunal in December 2016 regarding the Recreation Ground has finally provided clarity over the site. Following this decision, the powers of Bath Recreation Ltd have been clarified, including its ability to lease the Club additional land for a new stadium.