Bath to shake up coaching set-up as attack falters – reports

Bath Rugby are set to make a significant change to their coaching set-up ahead of the 2021/22 season as director of rugby Stuart Hooper looks to sharpen up the club’s backine.

The Rugby Paper reports the Blue, Black and Whites director of rugby Hooper has agreed a deal to bring back the club’s former head of the academy David Williams as an attack coach.

South African Williams focused on the individual player development programme while at Farleigh House which saw some of the club’s current household names come through the academy between 2012-2014 having joined from London Irish.

Williams left the West Country in 2014 for Japan where he took the role of attack coach at Top League side the Kobelco Steelers for two years, following former Bath director of rugby Gary Gold.

In his first season Kobelco finished top of their group in the regular season before losing in the semi-finals. In Williams’ second season in Japan, the Steelers finished second in the table, with the most points scored for the second straight campaign, before being knocked out in the semi-finals once again, this time by eventual champions the Panasonic Wild Knights.

In 2016 Williams was given an opportunity to ply his trade in Super Rugby, becoming attack coach at Port Elizabeth side Southern Kings for a season. A difficult campaign saw the Kings win just two games to finish second from bottom of the South African pool.

The following year Williams moved to Pro14 outfit the Free State Cheetahs in their first season in the predominantly northern hemisphere competition. The Cheetahs impressively finished third in Pool A in their debut season, behind Glasgow Warriors and Munster, to earn a place in the play-offs where they were knocked out by Scarlets in the quarter-finals.

Dave Williams while part of the Bath coaching set-up in 2013

In 2018, Williams moved again, this time to Durban side The Sharks in a return to Super Rugby and has been there for the last two years.

When appointed at The Sharks, then head coach Robert du Preez described Williams as having ‘an astute rugby brain.’

The Sharks were the top ranked side in Super Rugby when the competition was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, having won six out of seven games played at that point.

The Rugby Papers reports a deal to bring Williams back to the West Country was agreed a couple of months ago, and the South African’s arrival in the summer will see him replace Irish great Girvan Dempsey.

Dempsey joined Bath Rugby in the summer of 2018 as backs and attach coach having been a key part of Leinster’s success from 2015, winning European and league titles while he held the same role at the Irish club.

Full back/winger Dempsey played 198 times for Leinster; scoring 184 points and earned 82 caps for Ireland.

After Six Rounds of Premiership action Bath are averaging a respectable 2.8 tries a game, the joint fourth best in the league behind Wasps, Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears, who perhaps not coincidentally all finished above the Blue, Black and White last season with all four sides in the play-offs.

However Bath are averaging the fewest carries in the league (87), fewest passes (92) and offloads (2), fewest clean breaks (5), the second fewest metres gained per game (278) and joint second fewest defenders beaten (14).

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And just to make matters even worse Bath also have the leakiest defence in the league so far this season, conceding an average of 33 points per game, more than doubt the joint best sides in the league which are: Bristol Bears, Newcastle Falcons and Exeter Chiefs, who also happen to be first, second and third in the table.

There is a reason it’s a cliché that defence wins you championships.

But the latter point won’t be Williams’ priority, his job will be to get the stuttering back line, which has internationals in every position from nine through to 15, purring again.

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