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Bath statement: The signing of ex-Wasps boss Lee Blackett

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

Gallagher Premiership strugglers Bath have confirmed the capture of Lee Blackett for next season. The ex-Wasps boss had been working as an assistant at Scarlets since last November, commuting to west Wales from his home in the Midlands, but that mileage on the road will now considerably decrease following his decision to take up an offer to coach Bath after the departure of Joe Maddock, their attack and backs coach.

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The confirmed recruitment by Bath of Blackett came the day after RugbyPass exclusively reported that Scarlets had recruited ex-Ireland international Jared Payne from Ulster to fill the vacancy that Blackett’s return to the Premiership would create.

Blackett spoke at length with RugbyPass in February about how he was finding life in the URC with the Scarlets, but Bath will now be his next port of call.

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A statement read: “Bath are delighted to announce former Wasps head coach Lee Blackett will join the club this summer as an assistant. Seen as one of the most innovative coaches in the UK, the 40-year-old is a highly respected coach whose experience spans over a decade.

“Following a playing career that saw him feature for Fylde, Leeds Tykes and Rotherham Titans, Blackett returned to the latter in 2012 as a player-coach before being appointed the youngest head coach in the top two tiers of English rugby a year later.

“During his time at the South Yorkshire club, he aided the team’s progression to the Championship play-offs in consecutive campaigns and saw them reach the latter stages of the British and Irish Cup – both achievements were firsts in the club’s near 100-year history.

“The former England Counties back earned an opportunity to become attack coach in the Premiership with Wasps in the summer of 2015 and in his first season, his attack saw them score a regular season-high number of tries (71) as they reached the play-offs for the first time in eight years.

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“A year later, Blackett’s attack aided Wasps’ route to the Premiership final with a first-place finish and another emphatic record try total of 89. In his fifth year in Coventry, Blackett was promoted to the position of head coach, guiding them to an unlikely Premiership final during the 2019/20 season.

“His seven-and-a-half years at Wasps came to a sad end in October 2022 and a new opportunity as backs and skills Coach at United Rugby Championship outfit Scarlets arose which saw them reach the last four of the Challenge Cup. Blackett will begin his time at Bath in pre-season as the team builds towards 2023/24.”

Blackett said: “To have the opportunity to work with Johann van Graan, the rest of the coaching team and a talented playing group, as well as return to the Premiership, is very exciting for me.

“Bath is a club with rich history, fantastic support and has the infrastructure in place to be successful. I look forward to working with a team that has the potential to compete and challenge at the top end of the league.”

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Head of rugby van Graan added: “In the times I have coached against Lee for Munster and Bath, I have been very impressed with him as a person and as a leader; he will complement our coaching team and club very well.

“He has head coach experience and a fantastic rugby IQ. During his career he has improved the abilities of world-class players and we are excited for him to help develop our squad and game in year two of our journey.”

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