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Bath anoint next head coach while extending Blackadder's contract to 2020

Stuart Hooper has a two year run-in before taking the top job, while the club say Girvan Dempsey was given the attack coach role as ‘part of the longer term plan’.

PREMIERSHIP CLUB BATH have taken the unusual step of marking out their next head coach while extending the contract of the current boss.

Todd Blackadder Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Kiwi Todd Blackadder has been head coach at Bath since 2016 and today, in a lengthy address from CEO Tarquin McDonald, there was confirmation that he has extended his contract until the end of the 2019/20 season.

From that point, or perhaps earlier “when the club is ready,” Blackadder will be succeeded in the hot-seat by ex-lock Stuart Hooper.

Stuart Hooper Stuart Hooper speaking as Bath captain in 2005. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

“Does Stuart have more to learn? Definitely,” McDonald writes in today’s open letter.

“Can he lead the department in two years? Absolutely.”

In the short-term, Hooper will act as ‘general manager’ reporting to Blackadder, learning from him while and also having an input on long-term recruitment and the club’s  playing ethos.

Girvan Dempsey Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Girvan Dempsey, who left Leinster to take up the role of attack coach in the club this summer, will remain with a long-term remit.

“Girvan’s appointment this season was part of the longer term plan for developing our own identity around smart attacking rugby.

“He brings exceptional coaching pedigree, together with fantastic experience and intellectual property from his time at Leinster. He also has the opportunity and responsibility to continue to develop not just as a coach but also his wider skill-set, and this is something we will work on with him as he develops in his senior coaching role with the club.”

That ‘intellectual property’ from Leinster was also acknowledged by McDonald when explaining his decision to appoint Hooper in two years’ time.

“(We) have looked externally where young home-grown men have taken over the leadership of rugby departments at Exeter and Leinster; we are spending time with these organisations to learn from them.”

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Sean Farrell

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