THE picturesque and historic city of Bath is without doubt one of the nicest places to visit in the entire British Isles — unless, of course, you happen to be a Worcester Warriors supporter.
Whether distracted by the lure of the beautiful Georgian architecture or the famous Roman baths, it is difficult to put your finger on it, but something certainly seems to get to Worcester teams when they set foot on the pitch at The Rec.
Saturday’s chastening 36-17 defeat was the eighth time Worcester had visited the famous West Country club for a league fixture and, on every occasion, they have returned with their tails between their legs.
Over the last few years of travelling the length and breadth of the country to cover Warriors, I have developed a — most probably misplaced — sense of what I think must be ‘road trip optimism’.
In the car on the way to various away games, I find myself analysing the respective line-ups that have been named and often begin to think ‘Worcester could sneak something here today’.
Not once on the journey south down the M5 to Bath, however, have I experienced that feeling. That’s because I now know — as sure as it will rain on a Bank Holiday weekend — Warriors will lose at The Rec.
However good Worcester’s results may have been in the build-up to the fixture, the wheels always seem to come off at The Rec and this weekend’s most recent example is a good case in point.
Warriors have gradually been improving across the course of this season and, since the turn of the year, they have shown genuinely impressive form, culminating in the 16-11 home win over Saracens.
It has reached the stage where Richard Hill’s men go into every game confident that they have the tools to secure victory.
If that wasn’t enough, Warriors had already seen off Bath this season — albeit a scrappy 16-7 victory against below-par opposition — but the Worcester players travelled to The Rec safe in the knowledge they are capable of winning.
Even in defeat, Worcester have been notoriously tough to score against throughout this campaign and — prior to the Bath game — had the second best defensive record in the league. But that was not enough to prevent the curse of Bath kicking in and the normally rock-solid Warriors rearguard suddenly leak five tries.
In the aftermath, head coach Hill blamed the defeat on a lack of intensity from his players brought on by a run of tough fixtures. That said, even if Worcester head to The Rec next season on the back of a 10-game winning streak, I still wouldn’t travel there full of confidence.