'I'm going to say it frankly - Bath need to get rid of Hooper'
Rugby Pod co-hosts Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode have doubled down on the criticism voiced earlier this season about Bath boss Stuart Hooper, believing the director of rugby needs to be moved on from The Rec as soon as possible if things are to improve at the bottom place Gallagher Premiership club.
Gloucester humiliated Bath last Saturday at Kingsholm, their 64-0 win smashing records all over the place. It was the latest setback in a haphazard Bath campaign featuring multiple setbacks and although Hooper is set to stay on as director of rugby for the 2022/23 season with Johann van Graan set to come in as the new head coach from Munster, Hamilton and Goode believe now is time for Hooper to step aside.
Ex-Scotland lock Hamilton, who played against Bath in numerous derbies during his Gloucester career, went as far as to compare the current struggle under Hooper with what happened at Leicester with Geordan Murphy as their rookie director of rugby following his stellar career as a player at that club.
Murphy’s November 2020 exit helped to unshackle the influence of new head coach Steve Borthwick and 18 months later, Leicester are now on top of the Premiership and preparing to host Leinster in a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final this Saturday.
The situation at hapless Bath came up for discussion early in the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, with Hamilton quickly warming to the topic. “I have played in a few of the games. The build-up to those games home and away for Gloucester… it was everything. It was absolutely everything because of the derby and the history between the two.
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“We have gone hard at Bath, we have gone hard at Hooper before (on The Rugby Pod). Hooper called me out about going hard at him and having a joke. I am going to say it frankly and I feel awful saying it because it is easy to judge and say you would be doing this, you should be doing that – Bath need to get rid of Hooper, they do.
“You don’t want to draw comparisons but you have to. Leicester made a huge, huge call. I know Geordie walked effectively, however that looked, whether he was pushed, walked. I don’t think Bath will sack Stuart Hopper because of what he has done for the club (but) you can’t play like that to a man. Bath were fully loaded in that game, or what they thought was fully loaded.
“We are talking about Bath, one of the biggest clubs in England, and you are talking about one of the biggest games on the calendar and it’s 64-0. Now I don’t know what they will do with Stuart Hooper. He is a young bloke, he is a young coach, played against him, respect him massively but you have got to say how it is. Look at what Leicester did with Geordie Murphy and look at where Leicester are now.”
Goode agreed with Hamilton but took issue with one particular remark. “It was a disgrace. Sam Underhill was the only one to me that was relentless and putting effort in and then they take him off after 60-odd minutes… I am with you, Jim. You said Stuart Hooper has got to go and you are like, ‘Oh, he has done a lot for the club’. I don’t know what he has done for the club. I really don’t.”
Hamilton reacted: “As a player. He put a lot in the jersey as a player.”
This reply didn’t sit well with Goode. “Okay, but that is ten years ago. You can only be judged on the job you are doing, not the job you used to do as a player which is a completely different job. And let’s pick up on the words of (Exeter boss) Rob Baxter last week, he said there are a lot of clubs towards the bottom of the Premiership that have been going through a reset for ten years. Bath shocking.
“They have got to one Premiership final, they used to be one of the biggest clubs in the Premiership, they have been nowhere. A lot of it probably boils down to the owner and how he runs things. You hear horror stories about Bruce Craig watching training trying to pick the team, trying to be in the changing rooms. He is a fan with money and he has got a lot of it and he has put a lot of it in the club, so you respect him for that but Stuart Hooper is his yes man effectively.
“They need a clean sweep, Stuart Hooper has got to go, give it to van Graan. The other issue is it’s their biggest ever defeat. Their chairman, what a joke of a bloke he is as well, Ed Griffiths. It’s a shocking place to be at the minute. They need some huge changes and Stuart Hooper has to go because of it.
“Unfortunately that is professional sport and there is no sentiment anymore, there is no loyalty. If you are doing a bad job, why do you keep getting employed? It sounds harsh but they are the facts of life in any job in the world.”
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