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The one Cipriani at Bath aspect that DoR Hooper 'can't argue with'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper has delivered his verdict on the year Danny Cipriani has spent at the Gallagher Premiership club. It was March 2021 when it was announced that the ex-England out-half would arrive at The Rec in May following a number of months away from the game after he opted to leave Gloucester in December 2020. 

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At the time of signing Cipriani for Bath, Hooper explained: “Whenever we bring someone into the club in a key position, ten being one of them, I always see part of their role is a legacy effect, how can they make the people around them better?

“A top-level performer, say Anthony Watson for example, he gets better by helping the people around him, he gets better by helping the other young wingers, and that is what I see in Danny, the opportunity to come in and do the same with some of our young players, not just the tens but across the backline.”

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Thirteen months on from those comments, Bath boss Hooper was asked by RugbyPass on Thursday for his assessment on Cipriani who has made 14 appearances this season, just eight as a starter. “Danny, as it stands, is a professional rugby player so if he looks back on this season he definitely would have wanted to play more rugby. 

“Injury and illness have prevented that from happening but with regard to what he has managed to show and deliver for Orlando (Bailey) and these other young players at our club, it has been outstanding. As much as he would have liked to have played more and we would have liked to have won more, that side of it I can’t argue with it at all. It has been fantastic.”

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The 34-year-old Cipriani is out of contract in June and there have been rumours that a twelve-month extension is in the pipeline with possibly the added responsibility of becoming a kicking coach. Coaching is something the 16-cap England half-back recently spoke about during a TV pundit appearance for Channel 4, but no decision has yet been taken regarding his immediate future.  

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“It’s all in the mix (player/coach), it’s all in the melting pot as it ever is with players who are coming towards the latter end of their career and making sure that the path is right for them and for the club,” suggested Hooper. “He is somebody we are talking to at the moment and we will make those decisions in the next couple of weeks when we don’t have games and can talk about it when we can. 

“If that is the route that he wants to go down then he can be a tremendous coach. You have seen him play over the years, his ability to unpick a defence is second to none. He has got an incredible understanding of the phase play of rugby, which runners to hit, when to play the ball out the back.

“And in respect of what he has done with our young players, with Orlando in particular, he has been outstanding so if I am gauging it on what I have seen and what I know that he can deliver then I am sure there is a bright future for him there as a coach.”

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