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Steve Meehan fears for Bath after Gary Gold’s shock exit

Gary GoldFormer Bath head coach Steve Meehan fears the club could be in danger of being “sent off the rails” unless its management settles on a coaching team and gives it time to deliver.

Director of rugby Gary Gold became the latest casualty of Bath’s revolving door policy this week, abruptly leaving the club just halfway through a three-year deal – and despite Bath being unbeaten since October 4.

The club have had four different head coaches since Bruce Craig bought them in April 2010 and there have also been multiple changes in coaching job titles. Former Springbok assistant coach Gold follows Meehan, Sir Ian McGeechan and Brad Davis out of the door at The Rec.

Speaking to The Rugby Paper from his home in Brisbane, Meehan said he had been following events at his former club with a sense of shock.

“We may never know what really went on, I just hope it doesn’t send them off the rails,” said Meehan, who recently took up the post of attack coach at the Reds in his home state of Queensland.

“Bath is a club that I have good memories of and I want them to evolve and do well. I hope the players and staff can stay focused.

“If Bath need a test of focus then they certainly have one coming up over the next few weeks given the teams they are facing in the Premiership (Harlequins, Northampton and Leicester).

“Like most people I was certainly surprised when I heard about Gary because look at the position that Bath are in this year – it’s the club’s best start in the Premiership since 2008. They are going well in all other competitions too.

“To those on the outside it was a heck of a shock – Gary will have had a reasonable input into recruitment and retention of players and staff, and he has contacts all over the world.

“Goodness knows what’s gone on. For whatever reason things were untenable.”

A Bath statement on Friday said it had become clear that “the club and Gary were not able to agree on how to define the role of director of rugby”.

There had been talk of legal action, but in that statement Bruce Craig described Gold as “a personal friend” and Gold said there had been “amicable and respectful discussions”.

Former Stade Francais and Western Force assistant coach Meehan, who guided Bath to their first piece of silverware in ten years when they won the European Challenge Cup in 2008, said it was now vital that the club gave a settled coaching team time to set out its stall.

“Bath are looking for success and a lot of investment has been put into the club,” he said. “There has been a lot of staff turnover in the last few years, and there are a lot of new names in the squad.

“The continuity of a programme at a club is important to a side.

“At some stage you’ve got to have faith in the staff and the squad that you’ve got together so that you help them achieve their potential. I hope the current coaches are all given a decent run now.”

TOM BRADSHAW

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