Bath Rugby full of belief they can end 28 year wait to win the Premiership title

Johann van Graan believes Bath have developed “from hope to belief” as a squad after reaching their first Gallagher Premiership final for nine years. It is less than two years since the South African took charge as head of rugby at the Recreation Ground, but he has guided Bath into a Twickenham showdown with Northampton next Saturday and the possibility of title success.

Bath have never won the Premiership, losing in the 2004 and 2015 finals to Wasps and Saracens, yet they look better equipped than ever to break that mould. “We have gone as a team from hope to belief. We are not done yet. We have got one more week,” Van Graan said.

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“There was a vision put in place from the first day, but there was never a timeline. Are we surprised where we are? No. The reason for that is we said about getting better every day. We became consistent. When we won, we never flew too high, when we’ve lost we took out the emotion. We reviewed every single game the same.

“Sometimes you lose by a point, it doesn’t mean everything is wrong. Sometimes you win by a point, it doesn’t mean everything is right. The players have become confident in the way we want to play. And, ultimately, these are the games you want to play in.”

Scotland star Finn Russell, who arrived as the club's marquee player in the summer from Racing 92, has proved instrumental to Bath’s success and he was once again to the fore during a gripping 31-23 semi-final success against Sale Sharks on Saturday, kicking 16 points.

It looked as though the fly-half’s season might be over when he suffered a serious groin injury during Bath’s Investec Champions Cup last 16 knockout round defeat away at Exeter in mid-April. but he recovered in rapid time and was back playing five weeks later, orchestrating Bath’s final play-off push.

“One day we will write a book about it about what Finn went through the last few weeks,” Van Graan added.

“Our media release said it was a significant injury and it was a significant injury. But what he went through to get back on the pitch, that is no easy feat.

“From Finn’s side, it is not about Finn, it is about the squad, and he has made it about the squad. He is a very important player for us, but what we’ve done well is trust the squad. (Fly-half) Orlando (Bailey) came on to the pitch and did really well and our next game after the Champions Cup game was Exeter again. He steered us through and we got a massive five points away from home.”

Twickenham now awaits and it could be a classic encounter, given the amount of attacking creativity and flair on show in both teams.

Van Graan added: “The vision I sold to everyone on July 11, 2022 (when Van Graan took charge) is that respect our past, but we start from zero. We are here to build our own legacy and you train for moments like this.”