Bath have announced the contract extensions of Anthony Watson, Charlie Ewels, Elliot Stooke and Nathan Catt, all of whom have agreed new two-year deals.
The news of the quartet's extended stay in the West Country following Taulupe Faletau, Semesa Rokoduguni, Zach Mercer and Beno Obano, who all confirmed their future remains with the Blue, Black and White earlier this season.
Director of Rugby, Todd Blackadder, said: “We have not shied away from the fact that we want to play smart attacking rugby, whilst also developing our own unique style of play. We know we are not there yet.
“To re-sign such an exciting group of players is testament to their belief in our direction of travel and the environment we have created here at Bath. Anthony Watson, Charlie Ewels, Nathan Catt and Elliott Stooke all have fundamental roles to play in our future and we are delighted to have ensured they are a part of it.
“Catty and Ewelsy are Bath men through and through and have played a crucial role both on and off the field throughout my time here. Both have deep-rooted knowledge of our game and our club, which has been invaluable to the squad and ensuring or culture remains strong.
“Stookie has developed his game considerably over the last few seasons. I’m incredibly proud to see him involved in the England set up, and I know the prospect of international rugby will drive his performances for our Club even further.
“Ant is one of those rare players who is incredibly talented yet so hungry to learn and get better every day. His performances for Bath have earned him games at the very highest level with England and the Lions, he is a role model to our players with his work ethic and commitment to the club. He’s currently out with an Achilles injury but that has not stopped him working tirelessly with our medical team to ensure he gets back to the field performing at the levels he expects of himself asap. We’re really looking forward to seeing him back in the Blue, Black and White in the New Year.”
Watson is in his fifth season with the Club and is closing in on 100 appearances. The 24 year-old has been a key figure for Club and country throughout this time, with an impressive 15 tries in his 33 appearances for England. Comfortable at playing both on the wing and at full-back, Watson was one of the stand-out performers for the British and Irish Lions, as they secured a series draw against New Zealand last year.
Commenting on the news of his contract extension, Watson said:
“I'm obviously happy to have re-signed with the club. We have a good bunch of lads and world class players who all desperately want to achieve something here.
“The coaches past and present have been key to me getting to where I am today and because of the opportunities they've given me, I feel a huge sense of loyalty to the club.
“Lastly a big thanks to the medical team who have worked so hard to help me in my rehab and get me back to full fitness."
Ewels came through the Academy setup at Bath Rugby, making his debut as a 19 year-old in the Champions Cup against Tolouse in 2014. The 23 year-old has gone on to feature 76 times for the Club and has won eight caps for England from the second row, the most recent of which came from the bench against New Zealand last weekend.
“We’re heading in an exciting direction as a Club and I’m really looking forward to being part of that journey." Ewels said.
“I’ve come through the Academy and it’s always been my focus to win trophies at this Club. I have no doubt that with the coaches and players we have here combined with the long-term vision, we can do just that.”
Loosehead prop, Catt, has spent his entire professional career with Bath Rugby and is the longest serving player at the Club. The 30 year-old has made over 150 appearances since making his first team debut in 2008 and has forged a reputation as a strong carrier and robust scrummager.
He said: “I started my career with Bath over a decade ago, and it’s the place I want to finish as a player. I have a real attachment with the Club, supporters and the city as a whole, and I couldn’t be happier to continue my rugby journey here.”
Stooke was also keen to voice his confidence in the club's future. “I feel like this place is home to me - the Club is definitely going in the right direction and we’re in a good place. There’s a good core of people here and they are the right boys to take Bath Rugby forward.
“I’ve had a sniff of the England setup, and this is without doubt the right place to progress myself as an international player. I’m really happy that I’m staying, and I’m looking forward to creating more memories with the lads and winning silverware in the future.”