Ex-England international delivers a damning Ed Griffiths verdict
Ex-England international Austin Healey hopes that last Wednesday’s exit from Bath of Ed Griffiths will be the last time that the administrator works in the Gallagher Premiership. The ex-Saracens CEO was brought into The Rec last November on a consultancy basis but he was quickly promoted to chairman and this apparently sparked a power struggle with the director of rugby Stuart Hooper.
It was December – before Griffiths had taken on the chairman’s role from owner Bruce Craig – when Hooper was confirmed as the director of rugby for the 2022/23 season with Johann van Graan coming on board as the new head coach from Munster.
The pecking order was reversed last Wednesday, with the latest Bath reshuffle promoting van Graan to head of rugby with full control of the first team and Hooper demoted to a newly created general manager position. It was also decided that Griffiths would relinquish the chairmanship and would exit the club.
Ex-England international Andy Goode was quick off the mark in reacting to the sudden exit of Griffiths, tweeting: “The best thing Bath announced today is that Ed Griffiths has left the building. All the better for the club and Premiership rugby in general!” This prompted a reply from Craig Chalmers, the ex-Scotland player. “Couldn’t agree more Goody! Good riddance! Total fraud!”
The divisiveness of Griffiths became a topic later taken up by Healey, who dedicated his latest UK Telegraph column to this week’s upheaval at Bath. His belief is that Premiership rugby will be all the better for no longer having the administrator involved in the league.
Healey wrote: “Bath got themselves into such a tail-spin six months ago that they brought in Edward Griffiths to do a review. Unfortunately, if the Royal Family brought in Griffiths to do a review on them, perhaps to mark the Platinum Jubilee, he would end up being crowned King. Some people have found his motives and tactics questionable. He is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, except maybe some players.
“Stuart Hooper is an example of a good person. Griffiths, on the other hand, could be conceived to my mind as a Machiavellian figure who has treated the club as though it were an American corporation and he has been tasked with a hostile takeover. Ultimately, good has come through… For some, it is now obvious that Hooper was not the right man to be director of rugby. It is too early in his career and he did not have the experience.
“We can all agree that Bath’s performances, with the players they have, were not there. For that reason, you have to blame coaches. What is not in dispute is the character of Hooper. I can see why supporters would want a clean break, but his character trumps that in my view. It is too valuable. The role Hooper has after this latest shake-up, that of general manager, is perfect.
Hooper will be excellent. Griffiths is not in the same category, in my opinion. He had gone in there to do a job, but you have to wonder what the motives were for both him and the club… Ultimately, the way Griffiths treated people and undermined trust led to him being surplus to the future. His actions and tactics may have damaged some reputations, and some of the stories coming from The Rec will require a rebuilding of trust. Hooper is the man to do that.
“I cannot see why another Premiership club would turn to him [Griffiths]. You may think this harsh, a character assassination. It is not. I just cannot stand seeing good people pushed around. The simple way of putting it is that I cannot remember a time when his involvement somewhere has not ended in tears. On this occasion, with Bath, it looks like the tears belong to him. And the good people of Bath can take the club forward.”
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