Ben Tapuai has only been at Bath Rugby since November but he’s already well-aware of the history of the club and the importance of this weekend’s European clash with Brive.
Bath take on the French outfit in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup at the Rec on Saturday in a rematch of the European Cup final of 1998 when they won their maiden European title.
On that occasion Jon Callard scored all Bath’s points in Bordeaux as they edged out the defending champions 19-18 to become the first English team to win Europe’s top title.
— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) March 29, 2017
The teams meet in differing circumstances this weekend, looking to book a place in the last four and Tapuai is expecting a physical encounter as Bath look to put the disappointment of last week’s Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat to Saracens behind them.
He said: “It didn’t go to plan against Saracens so we are going to try to put it right against Brive.
“They have a big forward pack with big ball carriers so we know our tackling is going to have to be good.
“It can be hard to stop once they get going and they have some pretty slick backs so it will be a good challenge for us.
“The final against them has been brought up a bit so we’ve heard all about the history of the game.
“They have a couple of guys who I know, I played with Poutasi Luafutu at the Reds, we played in the academy team together and then he progressed through to the first team so I knew him a bit. I played for the Under-20s with Alfi Mafi as well so it will be good to see those guys.”
Massive opportunity ahead for us tomorrow. Nothing better than finals footy at home!! @bathrugby
— Ben Tapuai (@benntaps) March 31, 2017
Tapuai has made a big impact since arriving at Bath, fitting in seamlessly in midfield with Robbie Fruean out injured and Jonathan Joseph on international duty.
Signed up until the end of next season, Tapuai has been thrilled by the opportunity, and admits he couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction to English rugby.
He added: “When you are in the southern hemisphere you don’t really know where teams are in the UK but since I’ve got here I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.
“It’s like a second home and since I got here it feels like a second home. I’m loving my time here and looking to build into next season.
“Hopefully we can keep pushing on in the league and in Europe and finish the season on a high.”
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.