Bath Rugby director of rugby Todd Blackadder believes the chance to play at Twickenham is the first step to building a new Aviva Premiership Rugby legacy in the south west.
The six-time Aviva Premiership Rugby winners are to face Leicester Tigers at the home of rugby on April 8 in ‘The Clash’, the first of five games they are to play in the capital across the next five years.
Featuring one of the oldest rivalries in the English game, Bath and Leicester are no strangers to each other, with the Rec outfit getting the better of the Tigers in the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final to reach Twickenham, as well as in their clash at the Rec last term.
But rather than forego home advantage, Blackadder believes a chance to face their old foes at the famous stadium will be a perfect opportunity for their fans to see what they are made of – seeking a first Aviva Premiership Rugby crown since 1996.
“Even just being at Twickenham is really special. A few of the guys who have played for England have had that experience at Twickenham, but very few have been able to do that for Bath,” he said.
“It will be a really special occasion and it will feel like home because it’s something very new. I’ve only had a small experience of the Bath supporters, but I know they’ll be here supporting our team, and it will feel like home. I’m really excited about it.
“It’s really important to know the history of the club – you need to know where you’ve come from to help you with where you’re going. When you wear the colours you wear them with pride, knowing the significance of the achievements on the past, and we want to create our own legacy.
“To do something really special is important for these players, you can’t change the past but you can the future.”
Twickenham has been a fantastic showcase for Aviva Premiership Rugby in recent years, with the season’s finale also supplemented by the London Double Header and Big Game across the year.
And Bath managing director Tarquin McDonald is hoping to use that to give fans a new experience they will savour for some time.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring a game to Twickenham, Bath and Leicester is one of the great rivalries in English rugby,” he said.
“A couple of years ago we were in the Premiership Final, and while it wasn’t a great result, we saw a huge amount of blue, black and white support. We have loyal support at the Rec and in the south west, but there’s a real glow for the club from the 1980s and 1990s, a legacy that sees supporters from London and further afield now get the chance to enjoy a fantastic day at Twickenham.
“We’re pretty much full for the season at the Rec, and we’ve seen from social media and the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final that there are a lot of Bath supporters in London. It’s about them getting the chance to come and see us play.
“It’s about reaching out to the wider supporter base. It’s not just a commercial venture, we want Bath to exist beyond the south west, there are plans for a new stadium and reaching out and this is part of that.”
For further information, visit www.bathrugby.com/theclash