Craig: I've been hurt by Bath's decline

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The Independent Online

Bruce Craig, the extremely wealthy owner of a Bath club struggling to string together two decent halves of rugby, let alone two winning performances, is hard on the heels of a new head coach capable of restoring the team's credibility as one of the major powers in the English game. He is also seeking renewed support from the poor souls who have paid to watch the side over recent months – if not outright forgiveness.

Craig took the unusual step of writing an open letter to the Recreation Ground faithful yesterday – a missive that packed more of a punch than Bath have delivered on the field since last season's self-defeating marginalisation of Steve Meehan, which led to the Australian coach's premature return to Queensland. In the letter, the owner acknowledged that this current campaign had been both "disappointing" and "frustrating", adding that "we know we could and should have done much better".

Bath are currently eighth in the Premiership and at serious risk of failing to qualify for next season's Heineken Cup. Their second team, meanwhile, failed to win a single game in their league, ending the programme as the worst performing side in the competition. "It hurts to be in this position," acknowledged Craig, whose ambition matches his financial muscle. "A considerable amount of time and money has been invested in the club this year, without the returns expected by everyone. What I can say is that some hard lessons have been learnt."

By way of making the present situation even more uncomfortable, local reports indicated that Bath Rugby Ltd recorded a loss of £1.82m in the year to June 2011 – more than £500,000 more than in the previous 12 months.

Things are much brighter at Premiership-topping Harlequins, although the loss of two of their best players – the outside-half Nick Evans and the England captain Chris Robshaw – for tonight's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final with Toulon on the French Riviera has done nothing for the Londoners' chances of hanging on to the title they won in dramatic fashion last May. Evans is suffering from a foot injury that has left him encased in an orthopaedic boot, while Robshaw has a leg injury.