Rugby Union

Stuart Hooper: Bath disappointment will fuel them this season

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Ahead of Bath's season opener at Sale Sharks, their captain Stuart Hooper has told GiveMeSport in an exclusive interview that the West Country side will be using any frustration of last season to help in the new campaign.

Bath agonisingly finished just outside the top four last time out, finishing behind fourth placed Harlequins by virtue of finishing just one win behind the Quins after a poor end to the campaign, including losing in the crucial match away at Harlequins in the final week of the Aviva Premiership campaign.

The disappointment was carried into the Amlin Cup Final, as Hooper's men were defeated in Cardiff by Northampton Saints, as Bath contrived to lose despite being in the lead at half time, with two tries in the last ten minutes for the Saints making the scoreline a painful one for Bath.

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But now Hooper says that his side must forget any disappointment felt in both the Premiership and Amlin Cup finales, and use them as motivation to do better, with the lock hoping to use the experience to help his men go one step further.

The 32 year old explained to GiveMeSport: "We were overwhelmed at the end of the season and it's frustrating.

"There was obviously a lot of pain, in that we didn't make the top four, we didn't win the Amlin Cup which we were in with a shout for, so we're disappointed but I think it's put us in good stead going forward.

"The off season is a great healer for that though. By taking time off, you can look at things a bit more objectively, and you can look at everything.

"Looking at all the reasons why, rather than just the wins or why you didn't, and individually the boys can look at themselves and see where they can improve to get the job done."


The Recreation Ground side have been busy trying to improve the squad ahead of the campaign, with the likes of prop Henry Thomas from Sale and Nicholas Auterac from Saracens continuing the clubs policy of signing young players with huge potential, building on the success of George Ford last year.

The choice to bring Ford to the Rec paid off last season as the 21-year-old was the top point scorer in the Premiership with 250 points, and Hooper was eulogising about his colleague's brilliant professionalism.

When asked whether the fly half would thrive under the increasing pressure put on him with the upcoming campaign being in a World Cup year, Hooper replied: "Without a doubt, he's such a conscientious professional.

"He puts pressure on himself more than anybody else puts on him anyway! He trains the same way whether we've won or lost, whether he's had his best game or his worst game, he's a guy that is dedicated, and he trains unbelievably hard on every aspect of his game, so I have no doubt he'll rise to the occasion." 

Burgess signing

Bath have also managed to pull off a coup by signing Sam Burgess after the former Rugby League star swapped codes in the off season.

Burgess will be available from October, and Hooper is excited at the prospect of the 25-year-old playing union in Bath's colours, explaining: "It's an exciting prospect.

"He's a hell of an athlete, we've all enjoyed him watching rugby league and we can't wait to see him play and get him in a Bath jersey.

Burgess, in his League days, was able to play several positions in the pack, and the Bath captain was obviously enthused by the new signing's versatile qualities, saying: "His attributes are so good and it can cross into other positions.

"It's a case of seeing what he's like in training, see what he can do, and see how best we can utilise him. From there we can decide how best he can help us achieve what we want to achieve."

The campaign ahead

This campaign sees Bath returning to the top flight of European Rugby competition, and Hoopers' appetite was whetted further when Toulouse, Montpellier and the Glasgow Warriors were pulled out of the hat, saying: "It's exciting from our point of view, we're hugely pleased to be back in the top flight of European rugby.

"Whoever we had got would've been great, but with Montpellier, Toulouse and Glasgow, we have fantastic European names and we're excited about those trips, and of course bringing them back to the Rec, and see what the top european competition can offer us."

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England Rugby
Aviva Premiership
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