End of an Era

This season saw club captain Stuart Hooper having to call time on his 16-year career due to a recurring back injury.

The 34-year-old managed to achieve 232 Premiership appearance for Saracens, Leeds and Bath over the 16 years, 192 of which were for the men in blue, black and white.

These 232 appearances make him the player with the most Premiership appearances who doesn’t have an international cap, although he was called up to the England Saxons on multiple occasions.

March 18th signified the end of an era as that was the last time Hooper led the West Country outfit out onto the Rec in a victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Hooper has been Bath’s second-longest serving captain, behind Buster Soane, in their 150-year history having led the team since 2011.

In the previous two seasons Hooper had led his side to a European Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership final, unfortunately losing on both occasions.

However, he has ended his long with one piece of silverware in his cabinet. Ironically winning the Powergen Cup (now LV Cup) with Leeds Tykes (now Yorkshire Carnegie) against Bath.

As well as Hooper departing the club, Bath are losing one of their most influential members of the coaching setup who has helped transform Bath into a notable force.

Neal Hatley will end his 4-year spell at the club by joining up with Eddie Jones and the England squad to become their scrum coach.

Hatley’s work with the forwards at Bath has seen them become one of the most feared scrummaging teams in Europe, as shown when Bath’s second string front-row dismantled a Leinster front-row who have all represented Ireland.

Hatley has also played a hand in convincing talented youngsters Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson to join Bath following working with them at London Irish’s academy.

No replacement has been named for either first team coach or club captain, although many predict that Francois Louw will step into that role as he has done this season with Hooper out injured.

 

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