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Charlie Ewels explains most impressive thing about Johann van Graan

By PA
Bath's Charlie Ewels (Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images via Getty Images)

Charlie Ewels has claimed that Bath are “embracing the pressure” ahead of their quest for a first Gallagher Premiership title. Bath, Gloucester and Bristol are the only three current Premiership clubs never to have won it since the competition’s inception 27 years ago.

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It was a different story in English rugby’s pre-Premiership era, with Bath being crowned league champions six times between 1988 and 1996 when only Leicester and Wasps seriously troubled them.

They reached Premiership finals in 2004 and 2015 but lost them both, and Northampton now stand between Bath and landing the English domestic game’s biggest prize.

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“We are embracing the pressure. We are fully aware of what is at stake here and we will be going into the game knowing we must deliver,” said Ewels, the Bath and England lock.

“It is so important not to take this moment for granted. I took these moments for granted at the start of my career as a 19-year-old when we got into the final back in 2015, but it has been nine years since that moment.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
24
27
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
100%

“I recognise that these moments are special and don’t come around often, so there will be a lot of belief we can go out there this weekend and become English champions.”

Bath are challenging for silverware just two years after finishing bottom of a then 13-team Premiership. They won five league games from 24 starts, conceding an average of more than 30 points a time and suffered crushing defeats to Saracens (71-17) and Gloucester (64-0).

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Key to the startling revival has been the head of rugby Johann van Graan, who arrived from Munster in July 2022 and set about reawakening a sleeping giant.

Ewels added: “The thing that has impressed me the most about Johann is his consistency in the approach to each game at the times when we were winning, but also the times where we weren’t.

“He has always fully believed in the process and these things never become a success overnight. They take time. What has been the key difference is the way he has always been unbelievably consistent about our preparation and the focus on ourselves each game.

“Ultimately, that resonates through the environment, which is a big reason we have been successful this season. Sometimes, you have got to stop and reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now.

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“It has been such an inspiring journey to be part of and we have got the opportunity to end this campaign exactly in the place where we all envisioned where we would be at the start of this season.

“The progress we have made in the last few years has been immense and for me, it almost felt like signing for a new club this season.

“After I came back from injury and my short (loan) stint at the Bulls, I have loved being back in the squad playing week in, week out for a team that is so passionate about winning the Premiership.

“I really wanted this season to go on for one more week and I am just happy now that we have got a chance to play in the big game.”

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M
Mzilikazi 55 minutes ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 3 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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F
Flankly 5 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

21 Go to comments
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