BATH RUGBY: A battle is brewing

Wiltshire Times: Bath Rugby ace Matt Banahan and former prop Duncan Bell (back l-r) launch their own brews, Jersey Flyer and Belly Buster, with Wadworth brewer Colin Oke and sales & marketing director Paul Sullivan at the Devizes brewery on Tuesday Bath Rugby ace Matt Banahan and former prop Duncan Bell (back l-r) launch their own brews, Jersey Flyer and Belly Buster, with Wadworth brewer Colin Oke and sales & marketing director Paul Sullivan at the Devizes brewery on Tuesday

FORMER Bath star Duncan Bell reckons the impressive strength-in-depth on display at the Rec has been the key to their fine campaign so far.

The 39-year-old ex-Bath prop, who notched up five caps for England and lifted the European Challenge Cup in 2008, retired at the end of the 2011-12 season and is in awe of the options available to head coach Mike Ford.

“They’re obviously doing pretty much everything right at the moment,” said Bell.

“In my day, the squad wasn’t quite as thick. But now they’ve got quality in all positions and whoever you could argue is a starting player, you think about the guy who steps in as the understudy and there’s not a lot to choose between them.

“You’ve got internationals replacing internationals and that’s a reason why a lot of teams get silverware at the end of the year – you’ve got to have the best team but you’ve also got to have the best second team too.

“Things have changed a lot since my day. I’ve only been away 18 months but things change so quickly in professional sport.

“I’ve been down a couple of times to watch training and the methods have changed really quickly since I’ve left. The attitude of the boys and the coaching staff, and the whole ethos seems so to be a lot more professional.

“I didn’t think it could get any more professional but it’s obviously changed for the better because the club are going for honours in all competitions.

“They’ve done really well and hopefully there’ll be a bit of silverware at the end of it.”

Bell and former teammate Matt Banahan have teamed up with Wiltshire brewery Wadworth in a battle to claim the tastebuds of the Bath fans.

The duo have each helped brew their own limited edition beers, which mirror their respective on-pitch personalities, and fans at the Rec will have the chance to vote for their favourite.

Around 550 pints apiece of Bell’s Belly Buster and Banahan’s Jersey Flyer will be on offer at this weekend’s LV= Cup clash with Cardiff Blues, with supporters able to cast their votes after Satur-day’s game and by e-mailing yourviews@bathrugby.com.

Bell says the competition with his former teammate got a bit tasty.

“The two beers are very different in their taste, their complexion and their look but I’ve definitely got a winner – it’s very light, it’s got quite a crisp, citrus taste and it’s very refreshing,” he said.

“It’s sort of a dream come true really. I drink beer at the weekends and in the weeks so why not go to my grave saying I’ve had a beer named after me?

“I do hope I win and I hope that Bath win on the weekend, everyone enjoys themselves and they drink the Rec dry, drinking mine first before Banners’.”

Banahan added: “When we learned how much effort the brewery have put into it, myself and Duncan turned it into a proper competition because we don’t want their time and effort to go to waste.

“With having children and responsibilities, alcohol consumption has gone down but I know I’ve got a good ale in my hand with what I’ve produced.”

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