Bath - The Rec
View from the Novia Stand during an evening fixture
Football Club was formed in 1865, making it one of the oldest and most
famous rugby clubs in the world. In their early days the club played at
various venues before eventually settling at the Recreation Ground
(commonly known as the 'Rec'), right in the heart of this beautiful
rugby-mad city in the West Country of England. The side currently
competes in the English Premiership, European Challenge Cup and
Anglo-Welsh Cup, and have a famous local rivalries with Bristol and
Gloucester down the road.
When league rugby began in 1987, Bath were the team to beat as they lifted 6 of the first 10 titles. Since 1997 however, the side have yet to taste domestic success again, coming closest in the 2000-01, 2003-04 and 2014-15 seasons when they reached the playoff finals before being defeated by Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and Saracens respectively.
Ground Information Back to Top ^
The Rec has to be one of the top places to watch club rugby in
the world. The facilities and seating may not earn 5 stars, but the
setting and atmosphere more than makes up for it. The ground is
wonderfully placed beside the River Avon, with the old buildings and
Abbey of the historic city watching over the action.
The largest stand in the ground is the Wadworth 6X stand on the West side of the ground, which offers covered seating to the rear and uncovered seating at the front. This stand doesn't quite run the length of the pitch, but at the South end there is an additional small covered stand known as the Centurion Stand. Both the Wadworth and the Centurion Stands have some small supporting pillars, but on the plus side are nice and close to the action and offer some (if not total if you're at the front) protection from the elements.
opposite the Wadworth 6X stand is the Novia Financial Stand,
an large two-tiered affair with uncovered seating. To the
South of the ground is the IPL stand, with small blocks of seating at
the bottom level, and hospitality boxes above that overhang the seating
and provide some shelter from the weather. The North or Clubhouse end
of the ground has two sections of uncovered terracing for those who
wish to stand, whilst there is another small section of terracing in
the North-East corner of the Rec.
Getting There Back to Top ^
Bath is easily accessed from Junction 18 of the M4 for those travelling from the East or West, or from the M5 for those coming from the North or South. The only parking available at the ground is a limited number of disabled spaces - if you require these do you'd better contact the club in advance. Alternatively, there are a number of car parks in and around the city (details here) or three park and ride facilities that will be easier on the wallet (information here).
Spa railway station is a short walk from the ground. Regular services
operate to destinations including London Paddington (90 minutes),
Cardiff (70 minutes) and Southampton (90 minutes). Bristol Temple Meads
station is 15 minutes away by rail, where you can connect with services
to other destinations across England. National
Rail Enquiries has a useful journey planner for more
Bristol Airport is your first option, as it's only 20 miles from Bath. Scheduled services operate to Aberdeen, Belfast (International), Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow (International), Knock, Newcastle, Paris (CDG), Rome (Fiumicino) and Toulouse, with both Easyjet and Ryanair having a presence here. From the airport, take a shuttle bus to Bristol Temple Meads Station and then the train onwards to Bath.
Southampton Airport is about 60 miles by road from Bath. The majority of flights are operated by FlyBe, to destinations including Belfast (City), Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow (International), Leeds-Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle and Paris (Orly). There is a train station at the airport (Southampton Airport Parkway), and the journey time to Bath is around 2 hours, though you will probably have to change once - use National Rail Enquiries to find out more.
London Heathrow Airport
Around 100 miles away, the world's third busiest airport is also accessible from Bath. There are several ways to get from the airport the easiest of which is to take the direct National Express coach in around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Alternatively, take the regular RailAir Bus service to Reading, where you can connect with London-Bath rail services.
Birmingham International Airport
Birmingham International is around 100 miles from Bath, and is well linked by both rail and road. If you are taking the train, you will need to go from the airport station to Birmingham New Street, change onto a service from there to Bristol Temple Meads, then change once more for the final leg to Bath Spa station. A lot of changes, but the total journey time is only around 2 hours 30 minutes.
Uncovered Seating of the Novia Financial Stand
Drinking Back to Top ^
The Clubhouse Bar at the Rec opens about 2 hours before kick-off and continues serving after the match. It's a good place to gather and meet the local fans, whilst there are plenty of other bars dotted around the stadium too.
Before/After the Game
There are plenty of places in Bath to grab a drink, with a few recommendations below. Make sure to try some of the excellent local cider when in the West Country!
- The Boater is the nearest option to the Rec and as a result is very popular with supporters for a pre-match pint or meeting place. It also has an outdoor area so can handle the big crowds.
- The Old Green Tree on Green Street is a tiny but great pub not far from the ground.
- Also situated close to the ground, The Pig & Fiddle is a real rugby pub in a real rugby city, with memorabilia adorning the walls and live sport shown on TV. Also has an outdoor section that is great on warm days.
Eating Back to Top ^
Sleeping Back to Top ^With the ground so close to the City Centre, you can take your pick from a wide range of B&Bs and hotels. Due to the high volume of tourists, you may find some places insist on a 2 night minimum on weekends and it can be quite expensive - prices are similar to what you might expect in London. There are two Travelodges where you might find a bargain, though the Central option is best avoided for those who need peace and quiet.
Alternatively, Bristol is only 15 minutes away by rail and will offer more affordable accommodation, but make sure you leave plenty of time to check out Bath before or after the game.
Make a Trip of It Back to Top ^Bath is a great place to spend a weekend, particularly for those who enjoy their history. The main attractions are the Roman Baths that give the city its name, the Gothic Bath Abbey and the architecture in general. You can easily explore the streets on foot, or take a guided walking or bus tour. When you're done with sightseeing, there are plenty of great pubs and restaurants to keep you amused.
The Recreation Ground
- Fan's Forum
- Supporter's Club
- There are 36 disabled parking spaces (usually taken by season ticket holders) and spaces for disabled supporters in the ground, but as these are limited in number you are recommended to contact the club in advance.
- The Novia Financial Stand is a temporary structure that is
removed at the end of each season to allow cricket to be played.
- In the future, Bath are likely to redevelop the Rec to increase capacity and facilities, although there are challenges to overcome given the location of the ground.
- Bath were the first British club to lift the European Cup
with a 19-18 victory over favourites Brive in the 1997-98 final.
- Since then, they have never managed to get beyond the
semi-final stage, where they fell to defeat by Biarritz in 2006.
- The club have also regularly competed in the second-tier European Challenge Cup, finishing runners-up on two occasions before defeating Worcester Warriors in 2008 to lift the trophy.
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