Posted by: fiore | October 1, 2008

HANDS OFF!

The Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby

The Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby

My whole being trembles at the thought of Bath without its glorious team.

Once again Bath Rugby is struggling to keep its team at the beautiful Recreation Ground.

The first time I heard about it was two years ago when Bath Rugby supporters promoted a campaign to keep Bath Rugby at the Rec, with petitions (that I signed), articles, etc..

The problem is that one of the most famous and well-known rugby pitch in the world is located on a ground which is controlled by a Charity Commision. Bath Rugby hold a lease of the ground which still has 63 years left to run, but in recent years the East Stand has grown in size to meet the ground capacity requirements of Premiership Rugby and the Club has leased the land for this on a series of short-term agreements. The latest agreement will run until the end of the season, and Bath Rugby’s chief executive Bob Calleja is looking for possible solutions since Bath Rugby long-term plans for developing the ground have yet to receive the endorsement of the Charity Commission. So now, club bosses are close to sign an agreement over a temporary groundshare which would see the side playing in Swindon next season. 😯

“The Swindon option has to be seriously considered now,” said Calleja. “The decision will be made by the end of December. We would love to stay and develop the Recreation Ground. Swindon is only a fall-back measure in case the door is shut firmly on us but decisions have to be made. We can’t carry on in this limbo.”

I don’t know much about Swindon, except for Jasper Fforde‘s brilliant Thursday Next, and I don’t have anything against it, but Bath Rugby’s place is where it belongs to since 1894, The Recreation Ground, one of the most breathtaking rugby fields ever.

The pictures here were taken by me during last year’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final with Bristol, when I decided to take the a long trip to Bath before “it was too late“, and it has been one of the most incredible rugby experience in my life. I hardly followed the match (won by Bath, btw), because I was literally ravished by the beauty and the magical atmosphere that surrounded me.

I agree that The Rec needs to be developed: the East Stand might be picturesque but I thank that I’ve been blessed with a sunny day, and the in-goal areas are the smallest I have ever seen, but it would be an unforgivable mistake to give away a piece of Bath which is part of its heritage just like the Abbey, the Roman Baths, the Georgian buildings and Jane Austens’ novels.

The Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby

The Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby

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