TOP BAR - Fixtures

Guy Mercer relishing Bath Rugby’s rigorous preparation this term

Bath Rugby club captain Guy Mercer believes meticulous planning has laid the foundations for a successful end to the season.

Mercer’s announcement as club captain for the 2016/2017 campaign was one of a number of changes at the club over the summer, which included the arrival of Todd Blackadder and Tabai Matson as Director of Rugby and Head Coach respectively.

It’s so far so good for the West Country side with Bath Rugby occupying a top-four place in Aviva Premiership Rugby with six rounds remaining and a European Challenge Cup quarter-final to Brive at the start of April to also look forward to.

Last week’s 22-12 league win over Harlequins means Bath have lost just one of their last six fixtures ahead of this weekend’s trip to West Country rivals Bristol Rugby.

And with an eye on both domestic and cup success, Mercer believes the club are well placed to be pushing for the honours at the end of the season.

“We do have a very clear idea of what we want to achieve. Todd and the coaches’ planning is meticulous and I am sure it will have gone long beyond the end of this year and into the coming years,” he said.

“Those guys are good shepherds and that focus on goals just bleeds down into the rest of the team. There’s a common goal and we know what it is.

“Top four is big, we’re looking to increase that gap between four and five and from then on, it is just about getting ready for finals football.

“We have got the European Challenge Cup quarter coming, that is massive and Brive is going pretty well in the Top 14. We don’t have any small games coming up, they are all massively important; the boys are all aware what the ambitions are at the minute.”

Mercer was speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva #DriveSafer campaign alongside team-mates Matt Banahan and Francois Louw. As part of the campaign, Aviva and all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs are highlighting the dangers of dangerous driving caused by distractions, with a particular focus on the use of mobile phones.

And Mercer explained that not concentrating fully on the road was inexcusable.

“There’s no excuse for using your phone while driving, it just isn’t worth the risk,” he said. “Things can change quickly during a rugby game, but they change even faster on the road – especially if you’re travelling at speed.

“Aviva are helping to change the perceptions around texting and calling when driving and I think it can only be a positive thing. Driving can be tedious at times, but the risk is never worth the reward.”

At 27 years of age, Mercer has played his entire career at Bath Rugby coming through their academy before making his breakthrough into the senior side in the 2009 season.

He has seen first-hand the developments at the club in reaching the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final for the first time in 11 years back in 2015.

And the flanker added that having so many internationals in the squad had only helped their chances.

“Sometimes a whole lot gets asked of your internationals and they might have to cover assets of your game that they normally wouldn’t have to focus on at international level,” he added.

“If we have got four or five of them in a team and they can come and deliver on their little part of the bargain, put them all together and they’re flying.”

Bath Rugby are proud to support Aviva, title sponsor of Premiership Rugby, on their #DriveSafer campaign and help raise awareness of dangerous driving. Download the Aviva Drive app to see how safe your driving is at www.aviva.co.uk/car-insurance/drive 

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