Bath owner remains ‘hugely supportive’ despite winless start, says Stuart Hooper

Bath are reeling from successive league defeats and their worst start to a season for 20 years

Andrew Baldock
Wednesday 20 October 2021 15:32
Bath rugby director Stuart Hooper
Bath rugby director Stuart Hooper

Stuart Hooper says Bath owner Bruce Craig is “hugely supportive” as the west country club address a dismal start to their season.

Bath visit Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins on Saturday, less than a week after slumping to a club record home league defeat when they were crushed 71-17 by Saracens.

Four successive Premiership reversals equate to Bath’s poorest season opening since 2001, and they are bottom of the table, 20 points behind leaders Leicester.

“I think as I have said before, Bruce (Craig) is hugely supportive,” rugby director Hooper said. “We’ve spoken about, obviously, the game, because part of my role is to have that communication with Bruce and allow him to see some of the ways we are going to get better from the weekend.

“Everyone at the club has been hugely supportive and continue to be so, and support is not just an arm around the shoulder at all, it’s about challenge and support, and those guys Bruce and Tarquin (McDonald, Bath chief executive) have both been outstanding in that regard.

“I know that we have to turn this around, and I have absolute belief that we will, but it’s not driven by a pressure from above, as you put it, it’s driven by a desire and a want and a pressure from within the group to do that.

“The point is that you know that it’s not about, ‘you must win or else’, it is about what can we do differently to help us win, what do you need to do, could you try this, could you try that?

“And they come at it from an area of wanting to support me and wanting to support this group through what is a difficult time.

“There is no ‘you must do this, or else’. It is absolutely a relationship whereby it is challenge and support, but wanting to get the best out of everyone that is here.”

Hooper, meanwhile, says that Bath’s England wing Anthony Watson will be “seen by the best” on his recovery path after he was struck down by a serious knee injury.

Watson suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament during the landslide loss to Saracens.

Watson was immediately ruled out of England’s forthcoming Autumn Nations Series Tests, and potentially he could also miss this season’s Six Nations during what is likely to be a lengthy recovery process.

The 27-year-old, who has won 51 England caps and featured in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions, has previously overcome two ruptured Achilles during his career.

Hooper said: “It’s very tough for him. He has already had his scan, he has already seen the specialist, and now there is a plan in place.

“If I know one thing about Anthony, he will be looking to break records as to how quickly he can get back from it. We’ve got some direction now, and he will be motivated to get back as quickly as possible.

“What we have used in the past for the rehabilitation stage are people in Ireland, who are world-leading in dealing with these knee injuries and they give some incredibly-detailed guidance.”

Watson had only recently returned to action following the Lions’ South Africa tour, where he started the first and second Tests against the Springboks.

“In all honesty, the mechanism of the injury is not something brought about by fatigue in any way, shape or form,” Hooper added.

“He was in great shape going into the game, as he was the week before.

“It really is a freak moment which unfortunately could happen, and has happened to lots of people before.”

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