Rugby Union: A happier episode for the Rugby Club

Tim Glover watches as underdogs Bath continue their long cup tradition

THE bookmakers, a bemused race nowadays, made Brive odds-on favourites and with some justification. After all, Brive were holders of the European Cup and the fact that they were playing at Bordeaux, rather than a truly neutral venue, gave them "home" advantage.

There were about 7,000 West Countrymen holding crosses against the combined garlic air of 30,000 Frenchmen. It was, of course, bound to end in tears but, apart from the faithful, what most people forgot was that when it comes to cup finals, Bath know their onions.

"That's 11 out of 11," Jeremy Guscott said at the end of an enthralling, if not vintage match. "Never write us off."

He was referring to the fact that in cup finals - when the national knockout was sponsored by John Player, Bath were chain-smokers, when it was endorsed by Pilkington they went through the looking glass - their record is played 11, won 11.

Seven days ago, Bath were defeated by Richmond in the fifth round of the Tetley's Bitter Cup, leaving the impression that they did not have one for the road. But in the end, Andy Robinson's strategy, albeit a bit negative, succeeded in the Heineken. In the Tetley's, Bath omitted Jon Callard, preferring the attacking skill of the young England full-back Matt Perry. That meant that Mike Catt was entrusted with the goal-kicking and he betrayed that trust. Yesterday, Callard was the match-winner. As well as his penalty in the 81st minute which gave his club the lead for the first time, he scored the only try.

Bath's defence was magnificent but Callard apart, they were also indebted to the inhibited ambitions of Brive. You would never have guessed that in the 24 Carrat brothers, on the wings, they possessed a couple of fliers. But they hardly received a pass.

Clive Woodward, the England coach, was at Le Stade Lescure, principally to see whether Mark Regan's dodgy line-out arm will find England's jumpers in the Five Nations opener against France on Saturday. Overall, Regan was not hitting the bull's eye, but did a good job. Nigel Redman won invaluable possession but the player who really frustrated Brive was the American No 8, Dan Lyle.

Woodward was also checking on Catt, Guscott and Phil de Glanville. Catt remains an enigma. He has some admirable qualities, notably courage and pace, but the impression remains that he is not a natural footballer. His attempt at a drop-goal in the first half was not only the wrong option, but the execution was pathetic.

One of the major influences on the game was the Scottish referee, Jim Fleming. In December, it was Jim "C'est la vie" Fleming when he took charge of the exhilarating international between England and the All Blacks at Twickenham. Yesterday, it was Jim "Pedantic" Fleming. In fairness, he probably did not have much choice but to issue a stream of penalties as both sides were preoccupied with 10-man rather than 15-man rugby.

Bath looked as if they were going to pay the penalty for frequent indiscretions and the Brive centre, Christophe Lamaison, filled his boots. When Lamaison kicked Brive into a 15-6 lead at half-time, he threatened to bring the house down.

However, the second half belonged to Bath, Lyle and, ultimately, Callard. "The reliability of JC is extraordinary," Guscott said. JC? Not quite, but he did manage to pull off the trick of turning bitter into wine. In fact, a Bathful of champagne.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links