Bath Likely To Regret Banahan Departure

BATH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: Bath Rugby's Head Coach Todd Blackadder during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Bath Rugby and Scarlets at Recreation Ground on January 12, 2018 in Bath, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

After the ongoing rumours, the Matt Banahan departure from Bath has finally been confirmed. The club announced that the club legend and longest-serving player would be moving on at the season’s end to join West Country rivals Gloucester. It is understood the Jerseyman was not offered any increase on his previous salary, so decided to leave. Banahan has been a key part of the club in recent years, so should more have been done to keep him?

Bath Departure List Lengthens

Matt Banahan becomes the 14th player from the 2015 Premiership final squad to leave the club. This list contains notable names such as Carl Fearns, George Ford and Ollie Devoto. After investing so much to get them back to the top of English Rugby, it seemed as if they would build on that result. However they have only gone backwards after losing so many players.

Of course, it would be naïve to think that no one will leave Bath. What is most worrying is the calibre of players who are being shown the door. The players who have left have been key to the squad and are the types you can build the squad around. This includes Devoto and Olly Woodburn, both of whom played key parts in Exeter’s title win last season. How can you build a team to compete for the title, when you release so many players?

Does it send out a bad message to the players?

After making his debut back in 2006, Banahan has been a mainstay in the Bath team. He has broken into the club’s top 10 all-time try scorers, alongside legendary names such as Jeremy Guscott and Tony Swift.

Loyalty is a two-way thing, and Banahan has shown loyalty from the day he made the move to the Rec. It is only fair to expect a reasonable deal in return, therefore he can’t be blamed for taking up the new opportunity at Gloucester.

Unfortunately it may send out the message to the current Bath players that loyalty doesn’t always guarantee you being paid your worth. Many former players also expressed the view that more should have been done to keep Banahan. Nick Abendanon even going as far as saying there was “something very wrong at the top”.

Of course, being a part of the club for 12 years doesn’t guarantee a new contract every year. However a player who is playing as well as him is invaluable to a squad on and off the field. He can be crucial for helping out younger players of the squad who would have been watching him as they were growing up. Whilst on the pitch he can play three or four different positions to an exceptional standard.

Bath Likely to Regret Banahan Departure

His experience during the international periods has helped Bath get through some tough games in the past few years. That will be hugely missed. It will be a difficult task to find someone of that quality, versatility and available for every game of the season. We understand Todd Blackadder has budgeted his squad and named his price for Banahan. But  Bath perhaps should have done more to keep him. It could be a decision he will regret in the future.

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