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Bath back attacking rugby brand to win over Londoners at Twickenham for Leicester Tigers fixture

Joe Hall
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Moving to the capital: Bath will play Leicester Tigers at Twickenham on April 8 2017 (Source: Getty)

Bath believe that their exciting brand of rugby will attract Londoners to Twickenham for a meeting with old rivals Leicester Tigers in April next year.

The 151-year-old club are relocating to the capital’s iconic 82,000 stadium for the 8 April Premiership fixture against the Tigers in a bid to engage with rugby fans beyond the borders of Somerset.

Following the arrival of Kiwi director of rugby Todd Blackadder in the summer, Bath have won their first three games of the season — including their biggest victory for 15 years with a 58-5 win over Newcastle — and have scored 113 points.

Managing director Tarquin McDonald believes the blistering attacking play will be a draw for thrill-seeking rugby fans in London and remind many of the unstoppable Bath sides that won six consecutive Twickenham final wins between 1984 and 1990.

“People remember us as that really successful and exciting teams of the 80s and 90s,” McDonald told City A.M.

“They’ve seen the type of rugby that we’re playing at the moment and they see some of the exciting guys we’ve got playing in the England team at the moment, guys like Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Semesa Rokoduguni. These are really exciting guys on the international stage and it’s an opportunity to see them play brilliant club rugby.

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“There are a lot of people for whom engagement with rugby is not week in, week out support. You’ve got Quins and Saracens who have season ticket holders but there’s a massive audience out there.

“That’s not to say it’s an easy job to attract an audience but I go back to the Premiership final in 2015 [when Bath lost to Saracens], we saw probably 75 per cent blue, black and white in the crowd.”

Dubbed ‘The Clash’, Bath foresee the day out at Twickenham becoming a recurring fixture in their calendar akin to Saracens’ annual ‘Derby Day’ match at Wembley and Harlequins’ ‘Big Match’ at Twickenham.

Both London clubs have also played in America as part of pre-season tours or official Premiership games. Bath could one day follow suit and would be keen to see how their style stood up against southern hemisphere teams in a Club World Cup.

“At the moment, international opportunities is definitely something we’d look at,” said McDonald.

“Probably more in a pre-season context. People are interested in America and there’s obviously Japan heading up to the World Cup.

“Rugby has seen significant change in the last few years, why not look at new mix ups with the southern hemisphere against the northern hemisphere at club and not just international level?

“It excites fans. We’d certainly like to have a go at playing some of those Super Rugby teams.”

See Bath Rugby face their fiercest rivals Leicester Tigers in The Clash at Twickenham on 8 April 2017. For tickets and further information visit www.bathrugby.com/theclash

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