'A true legend of Bath Rugby' - Tribute pour in for giant of the game Jack Rowell

Steve Borthwick has led tributes to former England and Bath head coach Jack Rowell following his death at the age of 87.

Rowell coached England from 1994 to 1997, overseeing 21 victories in 29 Tests and a World Cup semi-final appearance against New Zealand in Cape Town when Jonah Lomu scored four tries as the All Blacks ran riot. Players like Will Carling, Jeremy Guscott and Rob Andrew all flourished under Rowell’s leadership, with England winning Five Nations titles in 1995 and 1996, including one Grand Slam.

READ MORE: Architect of Bath Rugby's glory years Jack Rowell passes away

Rowell was appointed by the Rugby Football Union following an outstanding 16-year coaching career with Bath. He transformed the West Country club into giants of the English domestic game, with Bath winning five league titles and the knockout cup eight times under his direction.

In a statement, Bath said: “It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of former Bath Rugby head coach and club president Jack Rowell on Monday 1 July.

“Jack Rowell, all 6ft 7in of him, was a towering figure in the history of Bath and English rugby, a unique character who will never be equalled for his extraordinary achievements as a visionary, astute strategist and inspirational coach.

“From his arrival in the summer of 1978 to his departure at the end of yet another trophy-laden season in 1994 to coach England, Jack had set about creating and sustaining an unstoppable force in domestic rugby.

“On behalf of everyone at Bath Rugby, we extend our deepest condolences to Jack’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. Rest in peace, Jack.”

Rowell returned to the Recreation Ground as director of rugby in 2002, where current England head coach and former Bath captain Borthwick worked with him.

“We are saddened to hear the passing of Jack Rowell and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” Borthwick told www.englandrugby.com.

“As a player at Bath, I had the privilege of working with him when he was director of rugby. He left a huge impression on me, not only as someone with incredible rugby knowledge, but also a fantastic man. His contribution to English rugby was enormous, and he will be sorely missed.”

Bath said they were making plans for a book of condolence at the club on Friday and Saturday, while flags at the Recreation Ground and Bath’s Farleigh House training base will fly at half-mast in tribute to Rowell.

Former Bath captain and England flanker John Hall, who is the current club president, paid tribute to Rowell.

“Many of us played under Jack for more than a decade and he was not just a coach to us, he was a visionary leader whose influence on our club, its players and supporters left a legacy that will endure through the ages,” Hall said. “His strategic thinking and passion for the game transformed the club and our team into champions, both on and off the field.

“The numerous titles and victories we celebrated together are a testament to his exceptional leadership and deep understanding of rugby. Jack was a mentor and a friend to many of us, and had a huge influence with our club and international careers.

“His ability to inspire and motivate was unparalleled, creating a tough environment where players and staff alike could thrive.

“Several former players, who were close to him, recently had the opportunity to visit and spent time by his bedside. Despite his health challenges, it was heartening to witness that his sharp wit remained intact until the very end. We grieve his passing, but also celebrate his remarkable life and the profound impact he had on Bath Rugby throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Jack Rowell was truly one of a kind, and his memory will always hold a place of honour at our club.”

Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan, meanwhile, added: “He is a true legend of Bath Rugby whose achievements here will never be forgotten by everyone associated with the club. “Fans of the blue, black and white will feel his loss most of all as an exceptional leader and visionary coach, but he also proudly dedicated his services to the England team and will, therefore, be fondly remembered by many across the game. My condolences go to his family and friends at this very sad time.”

Hartlepool-born Rowell also enjoyed success with the Gosforth club in the North East of England, coaching them to two knockout cup final victories before relocating to the South West for business reasons.

Away from rugby, qualified accountant Rowell became a director on the board of Dalgety, and he also served as chief executive of Golden Wonder Foods.