Over 6,000 supporters gathered at the Bath Rec Stadium from far and wide, from a Cardiff Met mother supporting her son, to a Bath Rugby Ultra member travelling from London while on placement. Having lost their first three matches in the BUCS Super Rugby League, the University of Bath men’s 1st XV had to prove themselves on this rainy evening against the undefeated Cardiff Met Archers.

Big cheers echoed through the stadium as the Away team ran onto the field, but suddenly, everyone was on their feet as the home team emerged through the cobalt blue and gold pom tunnel, escorted to the pitch by the Bath Jets – no one was going to let the rain ruin their mood. One spectator described feeling “pumped” for this anniversary match, and it’s no secret that the crowd were on top form despite the heavens opening. 

Bath and Met locked in a scrum

With kick-off at 6:30 p.m., the air was electric. Three minutes in, a penalty was already awarded to Bath after a dominant scrum. The crowd roared as their fly-half, Iwan Price-Thomas, kicked it over, after which they exchanged penalties, leaving the score at 6-3 twelve minutes into the game. The first try for the evening was scored by Met as they soared into the lead with 6-10 but Bath brushed it off with a try by their hooker, Jasper Spandler, as the forwards carried the ball over the try line.

In the last minutes before halftime, Met showed their strength with another try, leaving the score at 11-17. Looking like a sure win for Met, the chanting commenced. “I’d rather have a shower than a bath” boomed throughout the stadium as fellow Met teammates held up unicorn umbrellas, with dummies in their mouths. One Bath local stated he thought the Welshmen had “no Kenergy”, however, I am happy to report by the end of the match, he made friends with the Met supporters sitting next to him. The Archers’ teammates agreed, stating that their neighbour in blue and gold was “actually alright”. 

The Bath supporters didn’t let the messy first half get them down as a soaked spectator, pint in hand, said “there’s 100% still a chance for the boys in blue to win, they just need the ball a bit more in hand”. Will agreed, stating that this year boasts a very competitive league, but this is an absolutely fantastic moment for Bath on their home turf.

The action picked up right where it left off, with Bath’s blindside-flanker, Jack Bennett, scoring a try right under the goalposts after a turn-over from Met’s lineout. Merely two minutes later, Met jumped into the lead again with a penalty kick from their fly-half, Sam Berry, leaving Bath fans anxious with the score at 18-20 to Met. Tensions on the field were high as a fight broke out on the pitch, but quickly dissolved as the referee spoke with captains to ensure friendly gameplay – it’s all fun and games here…

Puddles formed on the field and with the rain still pouring down, Bath didn’t let anything get in the way of their final try in the last 20 minutes before the end of the match. The backs watched while the forwards did the dirty work – pushing on and carrying the ball over the try line – securing the win for Bath. The stadium trembled with reverberating energy through the crowd as the final whistle blew following the scramble for dominance on the pitch. Bath stood strong, waiting for the countdown to full time, which confirmed the first win for University of Bath men’s 1st XV of the season – a meaningful end to a remarkable match.

Bath men’s 1st XV celebrate with their fans

While the start of this season might not have been so promising, Iwan Price-Thomas proudly stated that “the boys put a lot of preparation into today” and showed up to take the win, marking an incredible moment for the team and their roaring fans.

The team will go on to face Hartpury next week, where fans will be able to support the Blue and Gold at Allington Fields to bring home another victory. 

PICTURES: @CampusTV Bath

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