Bath Voice Rugby News: new man at the Rec plus Bath player selected to play in Six Nations tomorrow

This is from Bath Rugby: Bath Rugby is delighted to announce the appointment of Nick Varney as its new Non-Executive Chairman. Varney is a long-standing supporter of the club and brings a wealth of business experience, having held the post of Chief Executive at global attractions operator Merlin Entertainments for 23 years, until his retirement at the end of 2022.

Of his appointment, Owner Bruce Craig said: “Nick has outstanding leadership and business experience having built Merlin into a global brand during his tenure. He will play an invaluable role in the future success of the club.” 

Varney added: “This is a pivotal time for Bath Rugby, and for rugby more widely. I look forward to working with everyone at the club as we look to grasp the opportunities before us. Having supported this proud club for many years, I am honoured and excited to have this opportunity to help realise Bath’s potential both on and off the pitch.” 

Varney started his career in consumer goods marketing, with Nestle Rowntree and then with Reckitt & Colman plc, he went on to hold senior positions within The Tussauds Group (Pearson PLC), prior to becoming Managing Director of Vardon Attractions and a Main Board Director of Vardon plc.

In 1999, Varney led the management buyout of Vardon Attractions to form Merlin Entertainments, driving the company’s dynamic growth strategy which sees it today as European market leader and the world’s second largest location-based entertainment company with businesses across four continents. Varney also serves as Non-Executive Director of Marston’s PLC and has been active as past Chair and Board member of UK Hospitality, the trade body representing the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry.

Bath Chief Executive Tarquin McDonald said: “I have known Nick for a number of years, and I am delighted with his appointment. His deep experience across complex capital projects, location-based entertainment, and attendance driven brand loyalty has many parallels with sport.

“We have exciting opportunities ahead of us with the team that Johann is building, and the plans we will bring forward to transform our stadium on the riverside. I look forward to working closely with Nick as we focus on seizing those opportunities.”

Six Nations call up: Ollie Lawrence

This is from Bath Rugby: Ollie Lawrence has earned a start in the centre for England’s Guinness Six Nations match against Italy on Sunday.

The Bath Rugby midfielder came on for his eighth cap in Round 1 as his country suffered a defeat to Scotland but has been promoted to the 12 jersey for the match-up with the Azzurri.

It will be Lawrence’s sixth start at senior international level, half of which have come from inside centre.

The 23-year-old debuted against the Italians as a replacement in October 2020 and scored on his last start in a win over USA in the summer of 2021. 

He has featured 12 times for Bath Rugby to date this season with his impressive performances rewarded in November as he was voted the Gallagher Player of the Month.

England v Italy is live on ITV and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
England XV to play Italy: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Jack van Poortvliet; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Lewis Ludlum, 7 Jack Willis, 8 Alex Dombrandt

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Henry Arundell