Bath captain Charlie Ewels has slammed reports suggesting the club's players revolted after being asked to take a pay cut due to financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, chief executive Tarquin McDonald announced Bath had asked players and staff to take a 25 per cent cut, with several other Premiership sides taking similar measures.

Sunday's edition of The Rugby Paper suggested Bath players were planning to reject the request, something England lock Ewels rejected.

"You might have seen the front page of The Rugby Paper today and if you did, given what we are all experiencing at this time, it would be fair if you felt a sense of disbelief or even disgrace at the headline which reads 'Bath stars revolt over pay cuts'," Ewels wrote in an open letter to Bath supporters.

"As captain of our club, I can categorically say that these reports are not true, and as a playing group, we are not in revolt against our club. In fact, it's quite the opposite, we wish to work with the club through this extremely challenging time so we can get back to where we all want to be, playing rugby at the Rec again.  

"Everyone at Bath Rugby is committed to working through this together, and the players within the squad that I am fortunate enough to serve as captain are no different. We play rugby for a living and we understand that if we are not playing games, then there is no money coming in. It is a difficult time for everyone at the club, however, we are all on this journey together.

"We as players understand everything happening across the globe is having a huge impact, and that impact is reaching far beyond us. I can say that I 100 per cent support the principle of the pay cuts, as do the majority of players at the club, believing they are what is right to guide the club through this tough period.

"Like players at all other clubs, we have been guided by the advice of our union the RPA during this hugely uncertain time. We are seeking answers to some specific questions regarding players on lower salaries and players coming to the end of their contracts.

"However, we are discussing these questions openly and transparently with Stuart [Hooper, director of rugby] and Tarquin and I know we will find the right answers in due course. We will do what is right for the future of our people, our club and our game." 

Rugby World Cup winner Francois Louw has announced he will retire at the end of the season following a nine-season spell with Bath.

Louw has enjoyed an illustrious career that has seen him represent Western Province, the Stormers and Bath at club level, while also earning 76 international caps for South Africa.

The 34-year-old brought down the curtain on his Springboks career in November on the back of their World Cup triumph in Japan and is now to call time on his club career.

Louw has made 134 starts in 140 appearances for Bath and told his club's official website: "Bath is a city that we call home now.

"My family and I have settled here, and representing the club so many times has been one of the many highlights of my career.

 

"While this has been an incredibly tough decision to make, the time does feel right to face a new challenge. 

"Right now, however, my focus is with Bath, and I will give everything to the club as our sights are set on making the play-offs and winning further silverware."

Bath's director of rugby Stuart Hooper led the tributes to Louw, who has qualified as a financial advisor ahead of a second career.

"The contribution he has made to our club cannot be overstated," Hooper said.

"I have had the privilege of being by his side as a player and working with him now as director of rugby, and his experience, commitment and world class skill has been a mainstay of Bath for nine seasons. 

"He gives absolutely everything, every single time he pulls on the Bath colours - whether on the training ground or on matchday - and we cannot ever ask for more than that."

Sam Simmonds and Olly Woodburn scored doubles as Exeter Chiefs ran in eight tries to obliterate Bath 57-20, sealing their return to the top of the Premiership.

Sale moved into first place on points difference with their emphatic win over London Irish on Friday, but Exeter swiftly returned to the summit with a dominant performance of their own.

They were 36-3 up when number eight Simmonds' second try one minute into the second half was successfully converted.

Bath then touched down three times to make the scoreline more respectable but could not avoid defeat, with Woodburn and Jack Maunder increasing Exeter's margin of victory in the closing stages.

Elsewhere on Saturday, a Saracens team that included Mako Vunipola earned a 24-13 home win over struggling Leicester Tigers thanks to two Alex Lewington tries.

Controversy has surrounded Vunipola, who was stood down by England for their Six Nations match against Wales after returning from Tonga via Hong Kong amid coronavirus fears, even though he has not displayed symptoms.

Ben White ran in Leicester's only try of the match in the second half to put his side ahead, but the momentum changed when Dominic Morris crossed for Sarries just after the visitors had Telusa Veainu sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Wasps claimed a third straight win under Lee Blackett to move above Bath and up to fifth place as they saw off Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena.

The hosts triumphed 39-22, having scored 22 unanswered points in the first 30 minutes. Gloucester have now suffered six consecutive defeats across all competitions.

In-form Bristol Bears moved up to third in the Premiership with a 19-13 West Country derby win at Bath and Wasps ended London Irish's winning run on Sunday.

Bath and Bristol started the showdown at a packed Rec on the back of three consecutive victories, but it was Pat Lam's side who remained on a roll to move above Northampton Saints.

Chris Vui reached out to score the opening try just five minutes in and Callum Sheedy produced a moment of magic to set up a second Bristol five-pointer, picking out Alapati Leiua with a pinpoint cross-field kick after creating space with a clever show-and-go.

A second Rhys Priestland penalty just before half-time reduced the deficit to six points, but Harry Randall's try gave Bristol breathing space - Sheedy converting for a second time.

Priestland fed Will Chudley for Bath's only try 15 minutes from time soon after he replaced debutant Rhys Webb, but Bristol hung on to keep their rivals below them in fifth spot and complete a double after hammering them on the opening day.

Wasps are up to sixth after beating the Exiles 36-26 at the Madejski Stadium.

Irish had won three in a row, but Jacob Umaga was among five Wasps try-scorers in an entertaining victory on the road.

Liam Williams has left Saracens to join the Scarlets with immediate effect and his Wales team-mate Rhys Webb has signed for Bath for the rest of the season.

It was announced in December that British and Irish Lions full-back Williams will return to his homeland for a second spell with the Scarlets at the end of the current campaign.

Williams, who has not played since the Rugby World Cup due to an ankle injury, has been cleared to leave the European and Premiership champions earlier than initially planned, bringing to an end a hugely successful spell in London.

The 28-year-old won two Premiership titles and the European Champions Cup during his two-and-a-half year stay with Sarries, who will play in the Championship next year due to salary-cap breaches.

Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar said: "Liam is a world-class player and man, a huge favourite at Parc y Scarlets and we are thrilled to welcome Liam and Sophie back to the Scarlets.

"To have Liam joining our exciting group of outside backs this season is superb. I’m also thrilled for Liam that his rehab is almost complete. 

"Obviously, his immediate availability for us will depend on how Wayne wants to play it during the Six Nations and we look forward to seeing Liam back at Parc y Scarlets in due course."

Webb will spend the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign with Premiership side Bath ahead of a move to Ospreys.

The scrum-half was granted an early release from his Toulon contract at the end of last year and agreed to rejoin Ospreys on a two-year deal.

Webb, who made his Wales comeback in the Six Nations defeat of Italy this month, could make his debut in the derby against Bristol Bears on March 1.

 

Curtis Rona scored a pair of tries as London Irish secured a 29-15 derby win at Harlequins, while Premiership high-flyers Sale Sharks were brought back down to earth by beleaguered Saracens.

Irish stunned title contenders Northampton Saints last time out and followed that up with a convincing bonus-point victory at The Stoop on Saturday.

Rona laid on the opening try for Matt Rogerson in treacherous conditions and the all-action wing grabbed his first of the afternoon after brilliant work from Ben Meehan.

A Marcus Smith penalty was Quins' only score of the first half and they were 17-3 down at the break after Stephen Myler was on the target from the tee at the other end, having converted both tries.

Alex Dombrandt powered his way over to reduce the deficit, but Rona dotted down again and Ollie Hoskins bagged the bonus point after Cadan Murley helped himself to Quins' second try in west London.

Sale missed the chance to move ahead of Northampton into second spot, going down 36-22 to champions Saracens at Allianz Park after beating leaders Exeter Chiefs in their previous match.

Rhys Carre, Rotimi Segun, Nick Isiekwe and Richard Barrington touched down for Saracens, while fit-again full-back Alex Goode shone in his first Premiership match of the season.

Wasps were beaten 18-9 by fellow strugglers Leicester Tigers at the end of a week that saw director of rugby Dai Young step back from first-team duties, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 22-21.

Sale Sharks survived a second-half fightback from Exeter Chiefs to secure a hard-earned 22-19 victory over the Premiership leaders.

Having headed into Saturday's encounter on the south coast without a defeat in all competitions since November, Exeter found themselves trailing 22-5 at the interval after a blistering first-half display from the visitors.

With Tom O'Flaherty sent to the sin bin early on Exeter, Sale ran in three tries in the first half – Chris Ashton, Daniel du Preez and Byron McGuigan getting on the scoresheet.

Rob du Preez added a further seven points, though Phil Dollman's try had handed the Chiefs some hope and Exeter gained 14 points in the space of seven minutes to set up a grandstand finale.

But Sale held firm, clinching a victory that lifted them into third, four points behind Exeter.

Elsewhere, Wasps ran in three tries in the second half to come from behind and edge out Worcester Warriors 30-26, with Dan Robson's late try proving decisive in a bonus-point win.

Wasps are eighth, level on points with the Warriors and three shy of Bath, who just got the better of Leicester Tigers – Tom Homer's double ultimately securing a 13-10 victory.

Meanwhile, Bristol Bears snapped a three-match losing streak with a convincing 34-16 triumph over west country rivals Gloucester, who slipped into fourth.

Callum Sheedy kicked 19 of the Bears' points, converting five penalties in the first half, with Bristol going over three times after the break.

Ulster secured a European Champions Cup quarter-final spot with a 22-15 defeat of Bath, while Northampton Saints and Glasgow Warriors stayed in the hunt for qualification on Saturday.

Clermont Auvergne sealed top spot in Pool 3 with a 26-19 victory at Harlequins, but Ulster knew a defeat of Bath would see them through as one of three best-placed runners-up.

The Pro14 side got the job done in the second half after the two sides were level at 7-7 at the break, Robert Baloucoune and Will Addison going over to add to a first-half try from Marcell Coetzee before Billy Burns was on target with a penalty.

Tries from Ruaridh McConnochie and Ross Batty, who was later red-carded for a no-arms tackle on John Cooney, were not enough for Bath to end the competition on a high note.

Northampton did all they could to advance as runners-up with a 36-24 victory at Top 14 high-flyers Lyon in Pool 1.

The Saints will go progress if either Saracens or Gloucester fail to pick up maximum points wins on Sunday after Mike Haywood, Teimana Harrison, Cobus Reinach, George Furbank and James Fish touched down in a bonus-point triumph at Matmut Stade de Gerland.

Glasgow must hope defending champions Sarries, whose relegation from the Premiership at the of the season for persistent salary-cap breaches was announced on Saturday, and Gloucester slip up after demolishing Sale Sharks 45-7 in Pool 2.

Leone Nakarawa set the tone early on with one of six Glasgow tries at the AJ Bell Stadium, where Adam Hastings scored 15 points from the tee.

Leinster made it six victories out of six in Pool 1 with an 18-0 defeat of Benetton Treviso, while Sam Simmonds grabbed a double as Pool 2 winners Exeter Chiefs saw off La Rochelle 33-14 at Sandy Park.

Beleaguered Sarries host Racing 92 on the final day of pool matches reeling from the announcement that they will drop of out of the Premiership, while Gloucester travel to Toulouse.

Wales centre Jamie Roberts has left Bath to sign with South African Super Rugby franchise the Stormers.

British and Irish Lion Roberts, who joined Bath from Harlequins in 2018, moves to Cape Town with immediate effect after the Stormers received the financial support of a corporate partner.

The 33-year-old earned the last of his 94 Wales caps in November 2017 and will also act as a mentor for his new team.

"It has long been a goal of mine to play in the Southern Hemisphere and I cannot think of a better place to do so than in the Western Cape, where people are so passionate about their rugby and also staying in Cape Town which is such an amazing city," said Roberts.

"While I am looking forward to wearing the shirt, my key drive is to perform on the pitch, win week in week out and to help to drive success.

"Having toured South Africa with my school, sevens, club and Wales, then playing in the 2009 British and Irish Lions series as a young player which was a highlight in my career, to spend some time down here and contribute to the fantastic rugby culture will be a special privilege.

"Every time I have been to South Africa, it has always struck me as a beautiful country with rugby at its heart, which reminds me very much of home. It feels very special to be able to come and play rugby in South Africa.

"While I am looking forward to pulling the Stormers jersey on, this will also be a fantastic opportunity for me to help impart some knowledge and insight on the many talented youngsters that we have here."

The Stormers finished bottom of the South Africa Conference last season and begin their 2020 campaign at home to the Hurricanes on February 1.

Bath have replaced Roberts by signing Fiji international and utility back Josh Matavesi from Newcastle Falcons.

La Rochelle bolstered their hopes of progressing in the European Champions Cup with a hard-earned 30-23 victory over Sale Sharks.

The Top 14 side were trailing 16-15 at half-time but then capitalised on indiscipline from Sale, who had Chris Ashton sent to the sin bin and Valery Morozov sent off midway through the second half.

Tries from Geoffrey Doumayrou and Gregory Alldritt turned the match around in the French outfit's favour as they nudged up to second place in Pool Two, ahead of Glasgow Warriors.

In Friday's other encounter, Harlequins claimed the bragging rights over Bath with a 25-19 triumph at The Rec.

Brett Herron's 10 points with the boot proved to be crucial, with his penalty 11 minutes from time helping see out the win after Jackson Willison's try brought Bath within three points.

The victory moves Quins up to third place in Pool Three, though they trail second-placed Clermont by seven points. Bath sit at the foot of the group after five straight defeats.

England international Sam Underhill has signed a three-year contract to stay at Bath.

Jack Walker and Max Wright joined the 23-year-old flanker in finalising extensions ahead of Friday's European Champions Cup clash with Harlequins.

Underhill has made 15 appearances for England and started the 2019 Rugby World Cup final loss to South Africa in November.

"I am delighted to have re-signed with the club. I am excited for my future with Bath Rugby. It's a club that has a lot of potential. It has been a new set-up this year, and I have been impressed by how everything is gelling together," said Underhill in a statement.

"We have a very young squad with huge potential, and we have a long way to go but that is something to look forward to and I very much want to be a part of it.

"We have a young pack and some really promising youngsters coming through the pathway and added to that a bit of experience and I think it's an exciting blend in the squad."

Bath are sixth in the Premiership with four wins from eight games, while they have been eliminated from the Champions Cup.

Relegation-threatened Saracens bounced back from a defeat to Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs with a 62-5 thrashing of Worcester Warriors, while there were also wins for Leicester Tigers and Gloucester on Saturday.

Champions Sarries have now collected more points this season than Exeter, but a 35-point deduction for breaching salary-cap regulations means they remain bottom of the pile and in the red.

However, the beleaguered the London club are making swift progress in their survival bid and scored 10 tries in rout of Worcester at Allianz Park in a week that saw Nigel Wray resign as chairman.

It was one-way traffic from the outset as Ben Earl opened the scoring after six minutes, with the first of Rotimi Segun's first-half double quickly following.

Brad Barritt and Mako Vunipola also went over before the break, and Sarries matched their haul from the first 40 minutes in the second period.

Richard Barrington, Maro Itoje, Duncan Taylor, Jackson Wray and, finally, in the 81st minute, Elliot Daly got on the scoresheet, with Owen Farrell nailing six conversion attempts.

There was a derby win for Gloucester as they put on a late show to beat Bath 29-15 at Kingsholm.

Rhys Priestland's five penalties had visitors Bath in front until just before the hour-mark, but tries from Gerbrandt Grobler and Ruan Ackermann in quick succession set up an ultimately comfortable victory.

Leicester got a much-needed win as they saw off Bristol Bears 31-18, led by England pair George Ford and Jonny May.

Tigers are only kept off the bottom of the table by Sarries, but a strong start set up a precious second victory of the season in the early kick-off.

Bristol-born Ellis Genge England prop went over with just three minutes played, and May and Ford crossed later in a first half that saw two Bears men sent to the sin bin.

Although Bristol battled back early in the second period, May had his second try with six minutes remaining, while Ford dispatched all four conversions and a penalty to leave Leicester 18 points better off than European Champions Sarries.

Leinster maintained their phenomenal 100 per cent Pro14 record by grinding out a 13-6 derby victory at Munster and Edinburgh beat Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.

The defending champions put on a defensive masterclass at Thomond Park to make it nine wins from nine in the competition.

Leinster held off a bright start from Munster to score through Ed Byrne from their first real attack of note.

Ross Byrne added the extras and split the posts again to make it 10-0 after 22 minutes, with JJ Hanrahan getting Munster on the board shortly before the break.

Hanrahan nailed another penalty early in the second half, but for all their endeavour, Munster could not find a way through a stoic Leinster defence.

Edinburgh - second in Conference B - overcame Glasgow 29-19 to keep alive their hopes of winning the 1872 Cup – contested annually between the Scottish rivals – for a third straight year, having lost to the same opponents a week ago.

Darcy Graham scored twice for Edinburgh, who were twice behind after the break due to tries from Scott Cummings and George Horne.

Benetton Treviso made it two wins over Italian rivals Zebre in the space of a week, hooker Hame Faiva scored a hat-trick in a 36-25 win despite the early sending off of Juan Ignacio Brex.

Louis Rees-Zammit scored a first Gloucester hat-trick but Northampton Saints ran out 33-26 winners in a seven-try thriller that sees them return to the top of the Premiership table.

In a match of high quality at Franklin's Gardens, it was fledging Welsh winger Rees-Zammit – who has five tries over his past two matches – who touched down first, racing free after picking up Mark Atkinson's grubber kick.

Saints took control through scores from Mike Haywood and Cobus Reinach and the respective boots of Dan Biggar and Piers Francis, before Chris Harris's converted try reduced the arrears.

Reinach's second, after a loose pass from Danny Cipriani, left Gloucester with an uphill task but Freddie Clarke released Rees-Zammit for his second of the match.

A yellow card for Josh Hohneck for a high tackle left Gloucester a man light, during which time Francis added three points from the tee and, although Rees-Zammit completed his treble when Gloucester worked the ball wide, he nailed another penalty to leave Saints out of sight.

Struggling Leicester Tigers dramatically fought back from a 14-point deficit to earn a thrilling 30-30 draw with Harlequins at Twickenham.

Quins were in complete command against a Leicester side with just a solitary win to their name this season, with tries from Paul Lasike, Marcus Smith and Chris Robshaw helping the hosts to a 27-13 lead.

But Jordan Taufua started the comeback on the hour, before Smith and Leicester fly-half George Ford exchanged penalties.

Will Collier's yellow then left Quins at a temporary numerical disadvantage, which Leicester made the most of when Telusa Veainu latched onto a kick from Ford, who added the extras to tie up the game.

Sale Sharks made it back-to-back wins to move seventh in the table as Rhys Priestland kicked 11 points in a 16-14 beating of Bath, for whom Akker van Der Merwe and Byron McGuigan went over in quickfire scores after the break.

Worcester Warriors, hammered 36-3 by Gloucester last time out, bounced back with a 20-6 beating of London Irish – the visitors having Motu Matu'u sent off seven minutes before the break, shortly after Allan Dell was also sin-binned for the away team. 

Bath halted a five-match losing run in style with a crushing 38-10 win against London Irish in the Premiership.

Tries from Beno Obano, Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni, a penalty try and Will Chudley put Bath 31-3 ahead at half-time.

Tom Homer soon extended the lead with the sixth five-pointer when he made an 80-yard sprint to the line.

Irish were playing for pride and mustered momentary relief when Adam Coleman drove over, but it was not their day, as Bath jumped above them and Worcester to go seventh in the table.

Powerhouse prop Obano surged over in the fourth minute for an opening try, and Watson charged through for the second moments later.

Wing Rokoduguni dashed through at the corner for a third Bath try after 22 minutes, and a penalty try against London Irish then compounded the hosts' misery.

A fifth Bath try arrived before the half-hour mark when Chudley applied the finishing touch to a fast break.

The next came after 50 minutes when full-back and man of the match Homer intercepted a loose kick from Stephen Myler inside his own 22 and let his legs do the rest.

Bath boss Stuart Hooper was getting the response he wanted after the team's back-to-back Champions Cup thumpings by Clermont Auvergne, with the men in blue, yellow and white rampant at the Madejski Stadium.

Coleman poached a reply for Irish but by then it was a forlorn cause.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.