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Change to come at Bath as club release open letter to supporters

Bath chief executive Tarquin McDonald has publicly outlined the long-term plan for the club’s coaching structure in an open letter released to fans.

McDonald stressed the board had worked on forming a core of ‘exceptional people who care deeply about the club’ to drive Bath to success after 10 years without winning a major trophy.

With director of rugby Todd Blackadder’s future a subject of speculation throughout the summer, the club confirmed he has had his contract extended beyond this season by one year.

There is a clock running on the Kiwi’s exit however, as former captain Stuart Hooper will take over the role of director of rugby from 2020 or 2021.

The letter released by McDonald read: “There has been a lot of discussion and speculation in the press regarding Premiership coaches and their futures following changes last season, and more recently in the current season. We at Bath have experienced more than our fair share of change in the past.

“This may explain some of the nonsense which had been whispered and printed in recent weeks regarding our management team and, specifically, Todd. Regardless of the reasons, it feels that now is the time to communicate with you regarding our long term plans.

“I would like to start by saying we are not in transition. We have the component parts to win and, on our day, we back ourselves to compete with anyone. We have fantastic people working at the Club and we have unbelievable resources. Our growth is to perform as more than the sum of our parts, and to do so consistently.

“In order to do so we believe in nurturing an environment with the right mix of stability, challenge and support. This is our long-term plan – building a system around a core of exceptional people who care deeply about the Club; a system which drives continual growth and development, which accommodates change as part of that evolution but learning the lessons of the past and avoiding the type of seismic change we believe would only set us back.

“There are several strands to this journey. Let me start at the top. In addition to overall responsibility for matchday performances, Todd’s objectives since arriving have been to reconnect the players to the Club and the community, to help enhance the focus on our internal player pathway, to help in the definition of how we want to play and to build a longer-term legacy around the department and his eventual successor.

“This work continues and we can confirm the extension of Todd’s contract by one year to June 2020, a point in time when Todd and Priscilla may be ready for the next stage of their journey, and the Club for the next step in its evolution. There is the opportunity for a further extension beyond this point – a decision Todd and the Club will make together at the appropriate time.

“Todd has committed that he will move on when the Club is ready. That readiness will be predicated on our next step, which will be when Stuart Hooper proves his readiness to take on the leadership of our Rugby Department.

“Why Stuart Hooper? Stuart has outstanding leadership qualities, tremendous integrity yet also the willingness to be challenged, an unbelievable work ethic, a strategic mind-set and the ability to get the best out of people.

“He also cares very deeply about the Club, the players and staff, and the wider community. Does Stuart have more to learn? Definitely. Can he lead the department in two years? Absolutely.”

Continuing the club’s transparency to its fans, the letter also communicated forwards coach Toby Booth and backs coach Darren Edwards would not have their contracts renewed and they will leave the Rec come the end of the season.

Recruitment: Toby Booth will leave Bath after six years (photo: Getty Images)

Booth moved to the Rec in 2012 after a spell as head coach of London Irish. He along with ex-Dragons head coach Edwards, who joined Bath in 2014, were praised by McDonald for being ‘fantastically loyal’ and as sources who provided ‘critical stability through periods of change’.

McDonald added: “Toby and Darren have poured their hearts and souls into the club. We all give massive thanks to them for their hard work, commitment, passion, dedication and loyalty for the club, which will be celebrated appropriately.

The pending exits of Booth and Edwards will see Blackadder and attack coach Girvan Dempsey as the only coaches in the department come the end of the season, but the club were working on recruiting a new ‘senior’ and ‘junior’ coach.

Recruitment could come from within the academy ranks with a pathway formed for Ryan Davis and Mark Lilley to step into first-team roles.

Bath coaching structure round-up:

  • Todd Blackadder signs extension through to 2020
  • Performance and player development director Stuart Hooper set to take over from Blackadder when the Kiwi’s contract expires
  • Forwards coach Toby Booth and backs coach Darren Edwards to leave club at the end of the season

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