Johann van Graan: New Bath head coach excited for ‘incredible opportunity’ at Premiership side

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Johann van Graan is looking to restore Bath as a powerhouse in English rugby, as he spoke before his first campaign in charge of the club.

The South African-born coach swapped Munster for Bath at the end of last season after five years in Ireland as he looks to revive the English side’s fortunes.

Bath had a difficult time last season and finished bottom of the Premiership table with only five wins, meaning Van Graan has his work cut out in 2022/23.

Brilliant opportunity

However, the 42-year-old is excited by the opportunity to try to rejuvenate one of England’s traditionally rich clubs.

“I’m very excited to be here, it’s an incredibly opportunity,” Van Graan told BathRugbyTV.

“If I go back to the past, (I was) very privileged to be part of the Bulls for nine years, a province in South Africa that really embodies the values of the rugby.

“The same with Munster, the club that I’ve just been at, a phenomenal five years at Munster and generally when you walk out at Thomond Park and at Musgrave Park, it’s about history and I can say the same about Bath.

“It’s what rugby is about. One of the first clubs in England to win in Europe, a rich tradition in Europe, a rich tradition in the English game and that’s what you want to be part of. You want to be part of clubs who have values and with history. We’ve got an incredible game, this game called rugby, and it’s phenomenal to be part of it.”

Outlining his vision

Van Graan will take up the head of rugby role in addition to his head coach position. He has started his pre-season at the club and believes it is crucial to lay down his vision early.

“We started last week and it was important to make sure we get a vision in place,” Van Graan said.

“A vision is pretty important because if you don’t know where you’re going you’re on a road to nowhere. It was important that we start off on that note. In terms of the players, exceptionally welcoming. There’s a real hunger to learn and get better. In terms of the staff, everyone just wants to play their part and add to the team.

“In a few weeks time we’ll be going across to Jersey as a group, we’re waiting on a couple of England boys to come back from Australia after their time away, some of the U20 lads and some players (joining) from other clubs are still on their holidays, and in Jersey we’ll be together as a group and can discuss where do we actually want to take this team and this club.

“I’ve got a vision of where I believe we can go to, but you need buy-in from everybody. A coach that I respect a lot taught me that you’ve got to dream big dreams because big dreams make a man’s blood stir. That’s what we’re looking for.

“We want to dream big, we know that we’ve got such a long way ahead of ourselves, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but you’ve got to start somewhere and we started last week.”

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