'My loyalty to Bath was between me and fans, not me and the club'
The former Jersey Red spent over a decade at Bath Rugby, before effectively being shown the door in 2018 after being offered a ‘piss poor’ contract with a relatively short deadline in which he had to accept or reject it.
Although his Test career was short-lived, Banahan became something of a cult hero at The Rec, steamrolling opponents on his way to clocking up over 100 tries for the Somerset side in a career that spanned 12 seasons. His exit from the club was viewed as a shock at the time and he subsequently signed for local rivals Gloucester
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing in sport,” Banahan told Owain Jones in an in-depth interview in TheXV.rugby.
“I’d have loved to spend the rest of my career at Bath but after all those years, I had a piss-poor contract offer. Given the salary cap had risen by £2.5m over my time there, I’d say my market value had gone up. I asked if I was getting a testimonial and they said no.
“The penny then dropped that my loyalty to Bath was between me and the supporters, not me and the club,” says Banahan. “Corin Palmer had said to me all those years ago at London Irish, ‘You have to remember rugby is a business. If it’s not you, they’ll find someone cheaper. I had to get my head around it.”
"Banahan will forever be synonymous with Bath. Yet after 12 seasons at the Rec and 264 games, he left for rivals Gloucester, feeling he had no choice but to up sticks. It was a decision that cut him and his family deeply."@OwainJTJones ??
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) September 5, 2021
Banahan was also working a timescale to have his negotiations wrapped up with the club. Speaking on the RugbyPod previously, Banahan had said that “It all kicked off with the negotiations and I was on a timescale. Being there for 12 years, I thought I’d have a bit more time to make a decision but obviously it was taken off the table pretty soon before December 31 and once that was taken away I had to look at what was best for me and my family.”
The 6’7, 115kg winger subsequently signed a three year deal with Gloucester in 2018.
“I knew around Christmas time that my journey was finishing and it didn’t come as a surprise to me so I just had to move on and enjoy my last six months at the club,” he said.
“There’s a massive sad part inside of me but I think it’s the right time for me to leave. I’ve done a lot at the club in 12 years and sometimes you don’t have the fairytale ending. I’ve had an opportunity to move on and enjoy my rugby somewhere else.”
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