Bath have announced that the young, dynamic trio of Josh Bayliss (back-row), Tom Ellis (utility forward), and Elliott Stooke (lock) have all extended their contracts with the club.
Current Academy star Bayliss, 20, will step-up into the senior squad for the 2018/19 season. The England U20 Grand Slam winner has impressed already this season in the victories in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, and his Premiership debut against London Irish in November. His powerful presence at the base of the scrum and relentless work-rate around the field combine to make him one of the most exciting back row talents coming through.
“I’ve learnt a huge amount in my time with Bath so far, and I know this is absolutely the best place for me to grow as a player,” said Bayliss.
“I’ve got some world-class players to look up to and learn from in the likes of Francois Louw, Matt Garvey and Taulupe Faletau, and the coaches really put faith in you as a young player to go out and perform. We have the coaches full backing, and that belief really helps you focus on learning and performing to the best of your ability.”
Bath Rugby Academy graduate Ellis, was promoted to the senior squad ahead of the 2016/17 season, which coincided with his move from the second row to the flank.
Whilst a knee injury picked up training with England in the summer has meant he’s yet to appear in Bath colours this season, the former Millfield pupil took his chance with both hands last season. As injuries hit the back row, Ellis cemented his place in the first team, making 28 appearances and catching the eye with a series of dominant performances, earning himself the call-up into Eddie Jones’s summer squad.
“It’s been a frustrating season for me so far being injured, but I’ve been working hard in rehab and the physios and strength and conditioning coaches have been great,” said Ellis.
“I didn’t really think twice about renewing my contract here – I love the environment at Bath. Like most players, I have ambitions to play for my country, and I know being here will help me achieve those.”
Second-row Stooke is closing in on 50 appearances in the Blue, Black and White in under two seasons with the club. His prowess at the set piece and dynamism around the field have made him a key member of Todd Blackadder’s squad, and, at just 24, there is still time for the England Saxons lock to continue developing.
“I’m really happy to be staying at Bath,” said Stooke.
“There’s a lot of emphasis placed on developing us as individual players as well as a team, and you know that you’ll be given the opportunity if you get your head down and work hard. I’m still relatively young, and definitely have more to give, and I’m in the right place to make sure that I can do that.”
Speaking about the news, Bath director of rugby Blackadder, commented: “We’re obviously delighted that Josh, Tom and Elliott have agreed to stay at the club. All three of them are very talented young players who, importantly, have a fantastic attitude to taking us forward in the coming seasons.
“Building and evolving the squad is a real focus for us – we want to have a really strong combination of talented youngsters and world-class experienced guys, and these re-signings are all evidence of that and fit into the club’s ethos. We’re looking forward to working with them all and helping them continue to develop over the coming seasons.”