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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

Johan van Graan has quietly set about improving every facet of the West Country club and results are starting to come

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Reports link Bath with former South African forwards coach van Graan

By Paul Smith
Munster coach Johann van Graan has been linked with Bath

The Irish Independent has today linked Munster head coach Johann van Graan with English Premiership club Bath.


The struggling former giants of English rugby are winless after nine rounds of Gallagher Premiership action and as a result find themselves ten points adrift at the foot of the table.

Despite there being no relegation from the top flight for a second consecutive year, youthful director of rugby Stuart Hooper is facing huge pressure.

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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan
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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan

And according to Ruaidhri O’Connor’s story South Africa’s former forwards’ coach is under consideration to succeed Hooper at the Rec.

Van Graan has been in charge at Thomond Park since November 2017 when he was appointed in the wake of fellow countryman Rassie Erasmus’ departure. Prior to this van Graan spent five years working with the Springboks following a lengthy spell with the Blue Bulls.

Irish sources have for some time suggested that the South African is out of contract with Munster at the end of the current season, and it now appears that discussions regarding a new deal to extend his five-year stay in Limerick are not progressing smoothly.

41-year-old van Graan plus assistants Stephen Larkham, Graham Rowntree and JP Ferreira were all believed to be close to extending their deals to 2024, but with the former Wallaby fly half now departing for Australia that seems less clearcut.


Bath’s poor start to the season prompted owner Bruce Craig to last month bring in controversial former Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths to “scrutinise each component part” of their rugby operations.

As a result of this chief exec Tarquin McDonald recently announced that the club will beef up a number of off-field areas including physiotherapy and performance psychology.

McDonald’s update also advised fans that a specialist defence coach will be appointed “to start as soon as they are available this season.”


Bath were strongly linked with former Sale and Saracens boss Steve Diamond, but he has since joined Worcester in a consultancy capacity. This means Hooper’s coaching team, which is headed by former hooker Neal Hatley, remains intact.

The former Heineken Cup winners who dominated English rugby in the 1980’s and 90’s, remain one of the biggest spenders in English rugby thanks to Craig’s huge personal wealth.

They also have some of the best facilities in the sport at their purpose-built Farleigh House training base.



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