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How Johann Van Graan sparked Bath's revival

SPOTLIGHT: Johann van Graan has been key to Bath’s revival over the last two years, with the South African coach overseeing a dramatic transformation since his arrival from Irish province Munster in 2022.

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When Van Graan headed to England in 2022, Bath was a bottom-of-the-table club and now fast forward to 2024, they finished second and they will contest Saturday’s Premiership Final against Northampton Saints.

In his time with Bath, Van Graan has influenced the group’s mindset, inspiring the squad to adopt a tough-to-beat, winning mentality.

“The thing that has impressed me the most about Johann was his consistency in the approach to each game at the times when we were winning but also the times where we weren’t,” said Bath lock Charlie Ewels.

“He has always fully believed in the process and these things never become a success overnight.

“They take time and what’s been the key difference is the way he has always been unbelievably consistent about our preparation and the focus on ourselves each game.

“Ultimately, that resonates through the environment which is a big reason we have been successful this season.”

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On that journey to the top, Ewels added: “Sometimes, you’ve got to stop and reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now.

“It’s been such an inspiring journey to be part of and we’ve got the opportunity to end this campaign exactly in the place where we all envisioned where we would be at the start of this season.

“The progress we have made in the last few years has been immense and for me, it almost felt like signing for a new club this season.

“After I came back from injury and my short stint at the Bulls, I’ve loved being back in the squad playing week in and week out for a team that’s so passionate about winning the Premiership, and we’ve got the chance to do that this weekend.”

Meanwhile, the rich history of the club’s success in the amateur era is inspiring the current squad to write their own chapter, with Ewels acknowledging the history but also stating the importance of the Final this Saturday.

Bath were six-time champions of England between 1989 and 1996 in the pre-Premiership era.

“As a club, we recognise and we are proud of our heritage. I am incredibly grateful to play for a club with a star on top of the badge and carry on the legacy of such incredible players that have played before me over the years.

“It’s a special club and we want to add our mark to the success this club has had, so as a group that is really motivating to us.

“We’re embracing the pressure; we are fully aware of what’s at stake here and we’ll be going into the game knowing we must deliver and it’s so important not to take this moment for granted.

“I took these moments for granted at the start of my career as a 19-year-old when we got into the Final back in 2015 but it’s been nine years since that moment, and I recognise that these moments are special and don’t come around often so there will be a lot a belief we can go out there this weekend and become English champions.”

Sources: @BathRugby & AFP

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