Mike Ford: Bath part company with head coach

Mike Ford
Mike Ford's Bath side lost 13 of their 22 league games this season

Bath have parted company with head coach Mike Ford.

Bath, beaten by Saracens in last year's Premiership final, finished ninth this season, and went out at the group stage of the European Champions Cup.

Ford, who previously had a spell as England defence coach, had been tipped as one of the favourites to replace national boss Stuart Lancaster following his departure last November.

The 50-year-old only signed a new four-year deal at The Rec in September.

The former Saracens head coach guided Bath to the 2014 Challenge Cup final, losing to Northampton Saints, before achieving their highest league finish since 2004 last season.

"Over the four years Mike has been with the club, both he and the team under his guidance have achieved a huge amount," said Bath managing director Tarquin McDonald. "He has developed an exciting, attacking style of rugby and helped to develop exciting talent."

All change at The Rec

In April, England confirmed the appointment of Bath's first-team coach Neal Hatley to national boss Eddie Jones' backroom staff, as scrum coach.

Ford and Hatley's departures come after the retirement of captain Stuart Hooper last month, and four eventful years for the club under owner Bruce Craig.

Having taken over Bath after they finished eighth in the top flight in 2012, Ford led the Blue, Black and Whites to seventh and fifth-placed league finishes in 2013 and 2014 respectively, as well as a European final.

But his best season with the West Country side undoubtedly came the following season, as they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup and the Premiership final.

Having lost 28-16 to champions Saracens at Twickenham, Ford's side could only finish third in their Champions Cup pool this term and won just nine of their 22 league matches, finishing 17 points below the play-off places.

Analysis - BBC Rugby Union reporter Chris Jones

"It's been a season to forget for Bath: ninth in the Premiership, off the pace in Europe, the highly disruptive Sam Burgess affair which left so many scars, Neal Hatley departing for England - not to mention Alafoti Fa'osiliva and Amanaki Mafi leaving the club under a cloud.

"Some may have felt Ford's achievements last year would have granted him at least another season to turn things around, but the rumblings of discontent at The Rec have been audible, and Bath owner Bruce Craig isn't renowned for his patience.

"As for Ford's successor, plenty of names will be linked from Heyneke Meyer to Stuart Lancaster, but it will be a surprise if there isn't a role in some shape or form for Stuart Hooper, the club captain who has just retired."