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Bath: Analysing Three Of The Top Candidates To Replace Mike Ford

BATH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 18: Mike Ford, Head Coach of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground on March 18, 2016 in Bath, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

The shock departure of Mike Ford from The Rec has opened up one of the most attractive roles going in the sport.

Here are three high profile candidates to be considered for the Bath job.

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Todd Blackadder

The Crusaders head coach will leave Super Rugby’s most successful franchise when his contract expires at the end of the season following eight years at the helm. In that time Blackadder has guided the Crusaders to two Super Rugby final appearances in 2011 and 2014, with both ending in losses to the Reds and Waratahs respectively.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 26: Todd Blackadder (Head Coach) of the BNZ Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and BNZ Crusaders at Growthpoint Kings Park on March 26, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Under his watch the Crusaders have never finished lower than seventh, whilst reaching four semi-finals. However, his chances of making it third time lucky chasing a title are certainly strong, with the Crusaders having won eight games in a row before last Saturday’s defeat away to defending champions the Highlanders.

Blackadder’s departure is down to his hunger for a new challenge and the budget and pressure that would come with taking charge at The Rec seems like the perfect fit for an ambitious coach with his sight ultimately set on coaching the All Blacks at some point in the future.

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Pat Lam

It’s been a whirlwind season for Lam’s Connacht but last weekend was a rare chance for the head coach to sit on the sofa, and put his feet up to watch some Super Rugby, possibly his old side the Blues being thumped 43-5 away to the Lions at Ellis Park. Lam took his enforced departure from Auckland hard back in 2012, fighting back tears in his final press conference, but in the years since then with Connacht he has rebuilt his reputation and currently sits two games from a remarkable feat, in winning the PRO12, that would make even Leicester City sit up and take notice.

Lam has done so much already for rugby in Galway, attracting players to the Sportsgrounds such as this season’s PRO12 Players’ Player of the Year, Bundee Aki, and getting the best out of the province’s young Irish talent.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Connacht Rugby coach Pat Lam looks on before the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Connacht Rugby at Kingsholm Stadium on April 3, 2015 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Leaving now, therefore, with the club back in the Champions Cup would almost be a waste. Bath, however, are an intriguing prospect, with a flourishing academy with which he could do plenty. Lam was also linked to the club in the past, back in 2012.

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Heyneke Meyer

Without a role since stepping down as head coach of the Springboks following last year’s Rugby World Cup. Meyer was linked with the vacant director of rugby role at Harlequins last month before they opted to promote from within with John Kingston moving into the top job. Meyer’s pedigree remains impressive despite that disjointed World Cup campaign, which came to an end in the semi-finals against New Zealand, and a 20-18 loss only at that.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Heyneke Meyer, Head Coach of South Africa looks on with players after the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina at the Olympic Stadium on October 30, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

In his native South Africa he steered the Bulls to one Super Rugby title and four Currie Cups. Meyer’s previous stint in the Premiership with Leicester Tigers in 2008 ended early after only five months due the ill-health of his wife’s parents, and a second crack at the English top flight may appeal.

Meyer’s trademark is to build sides with powerful packs and Bath have lacked that edge this season, partly due to the injury and now retirement of Stuart Hooper, who would make an interesting English addition to his coaching staff much in the same way as Eddie Jones has brought on board Paul Gustard and Steve Borthwick.

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Ben Coles, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

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