Thursday, 9 June 2011

All Black Donald fits the bill for Bath Rugby chairman Craig

Bath Rugby have the signature of their new fly half and sources suggest it's All Black Stephen Donald, although there is no confirmation from the club. This column, taken from today's Bath Chronicle, explains why Donald and not Danny Cipriani fits chairman Bruce Craig's vision for the club.

A lot was made of what a physically intimidating specimen Butch James was when he played in the Premiership.

But it seems that the man who is poised to replace the sturdy South African in the number ten shirt at The Rec could be even more, well, butch.

While there is no official word from Bath Rugby, it seems that All Black Stephen Donald, pictured, is likely to be the man who, barring any last-minute hitches, will be pulling the strings at fly-half next season.

As mentioned in last week’s Chronicle, sources indicate that Donald is the man likely to become Bath’s stand-off for the 2011-12 campaign and beyond.

Donald would be a good fit at Bath, not only because of his 6ft 3in frame but because of his reputation as a selfless, hard-working team player.

In an interview with the Chronicle in April, Bath chairman Bruce Craig articulated a vision for the sort of culture he wanted to foster.

In it, he emphasised how important he regarded the chemistry that pervaded a rugby club.

“If you look at the likes of Toulouse, Munster, Leinster and Perpignan, there is a passion, fervour and a willingness on the pitch to almost die for the shirt,” he said.

“You can’t bring in journeymen to do that. That’s one of the things we’re working on. The chemistry is very important.”

Across the Super 15 and in the All Blacks camp, Donald commands respect as a committed, grafting figure – an axis around which the rest of a side can revolve.

He may not bring the heart-in-mouth antics of a Quade Cooper and may have been forced to play understudy to Dan Carter for the All Blacks.

However, as a wise distributor and a reliable place-kicker he would be a wise investment, particularly if he arrives at Bath on a long-term contract.

Sources suggest that Donald would remain at The Rec on a deal until 2014. That would certainly remove him from the ‘journeyman’ category and, at 27 years of age, Bath could quite reasonably expect to get some of the best years of his career out of him.

A fortnight ago, I revealed Danny Cipriani’s representatives had approached Bath.

But under Craig’s vision, Donald is a far better fit.

Photo by Steve Haag/Back Page Sport


  1. Reliable place kicker ? Someone hasn't watch Donald that closely.