Bath, desperate to turn their hopelessly outdated Recreation Ground home into a 21st-century stadium fit for a sporting king – even a king as grand as the All Black outside-half Daniel Carter, whose services they crave – believe they have taken a significant step towards untying the legal knots that have bedevilled their development plans for decades. Bruce Craig, who bought the club from Andrew Brownsword last season, has agreed to pay £400,000 for the Lambridge training ground on the edge of town: a move that would effectively see the land passed into public ownership, making it available for amateur sport.
The Rec has been deemed charitable land, and changes must be approved by the Charity Commission. Some locals – very much a minority, but well-informed and vociferous – object to any development of the 12,300-capacity venue, and this "land swap" arrangement will not silence them for a second. But Craig's initiative, still subject to a consultation exercise, would certainly ease some of the commission's most pressing concerns over inconvenience caused to other sporting organisations currently using the city centre site.
When Brownsword bought the most successful club in English rugby history at the start of the professional era, the 11-acre Lambridge ground remained in the custody of the directors of the old amateur club. Those directors believe Craig's plan to be the best outcome and are now contacting former members to gauge their reaction. Should the sale be completed, plans to raise the Rec's capacity towards the 20,000 mark may finally bear fruit.
Richard Cockerill, the director of rugby at Leicester, yesterday accepted the two-week ban imposed on prop Marcos Ayerza following the Argentine's dismissal for butting at Harlequins last weekend. The Quins prop Joe Marler was also sent off. As a consequence, both players will miss European action this weekend.