CLAASSENS COMMITS TO BATH

Michael Claassens has signed a new two-year deal that will keep him at bath rugby union till 2013. The 27-year-old arrived at the Rec in 2007 and has become an integral member of Steve Meehan's side.

"I've been speaking to the club for about three months and it was about either going back to South Africa or staying in Bath," said Claassens.

"Timing-wise I just think it's best decision for me my wife and I to stay here for another few years."

BATH EYE EASTMOND

Bath are interested in signing St Helens star Kyle Eastmond in a code switch. The 21-year-old England international, who made his debut in 2008 before effectively replacing Saints legend Sean Long, has met Bath officials.

And Bath are aware that he has just one season left to run on his contract.

"He's one of league's most exciting prospects and could make the transfer across pretty seamlessly," Bath coach Brad Davis told BBC Radio Bristol.

"Any club he chooses to go to will greatly benefit from his services."

WATSON WANTS SUCCESSFUL END

Luke Watson says that he wants to finish his Bath career in a successful manner. The 27-year-old Springbok this week announced he would be returning to his hometown of Port Elizabeth at the end of the season.

The back rower has been out of action for six weeks but will return shortly.

"I can't wait to get back on the pitch and make these last six months count and repay Bath for everything they've given me," Watson told BBC Bristol.

CLASSENS READY FOR ACTION

Michael Claassens says that Bath have received a good rest and are ready to go all guns blazing. Bath won one and lost one of their LV= Cup pool matches giving their first-team regulars a break from the action.

"Time off is vital. It's a long season so it's good to get a mental break," the scrum-half told BBC Radio Bristol.

"A lot of the guys that came back look fresh at training. We haven't played as well as we know we're capable of yet, so I'm sure this is the turn for us."

BATH COMPLETE SECOND ROW OF SIGNINGS

Bath Rugby Union have signed van der Giessen and Fernandez-Lobbe in a double deal. Lobbe, 35, who has 60 international caps and has played in three World Cups, joins from Northampton Saints for the rest of the season.

Van der Giessen, 28, who spent last season with Top 14 side Albi, has signed a three-month contract. Bath were forced to seek reinforcements after an injury to Scott Hobson.

Head coach Steve Meehan said: "Both players will be a valuable addition to the squad at this time when we have injuries in the second row.

FLATMAN FEELING THE STRESS

Prop David Flatman says that he is feeling the pressure on Bath to deliver. Bath have won just one piece of silverware in the last decade after dominating domestic rugby in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"There's more, of course there is," the England international told BBC Bristol.

"We're under very positive and ambitious new ownership, have great new training facilities and we have to live up to that."

Flatman continued: "But I think the real pressure comes from starting another season as a Bath player off the back of a season where we haven't won anything.

BATH INCREASE STADIUM CAPACITY

Bath Rugby Union have increased their ground capacity from 11,700 to 12,300 after getting approval from Charity Commission. The ground is owned by Bath & North East Somerset Council as a charitable trust and the commission must oversee the ground's continued use.

Bath Rugby Union's chief executive Nick Blofeld said: "We hope to improve the facilities a little each year."

The rebuilding project is scheduled to start on 16 August.

Meanwhile, Somerset county cricket club have played their first game on a newly-laid wicket at the ground.

MEARS BACKS HAPE

England hooker Lee Mears is backing Bath Rugby team-mate Shontayne Hape to shine when the dual-code centre makes his international union debut on Sunday.

Hape, who left Super League side Bradford Bulls two years ago to have a crack at the 15-man game, will start in the number 12 shirt when England take on the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Although a non-cap fixture, the call-up to the starting XV is just reward for Hape's patience and endeavour.

11 LEAVE BATH THIS SUMMER

Eleven players will be leaving Bath Rugby at the end of the season, it has emerged.

Mike Baxter, Daniel Browne, Rhys Crane, Ryan Davis and Michael Stephenson are among the out-of-contract players who are moving on.

Also leaving The Rec are Rob Hawkins (Leicester), Nicky Little (Bristol), Julian Salvi (ACT Brumbies), Joe Maddock and Matt Spelman.

In addition, scrum-half Scott Bemand is retiring due to injury and returning to the family farm in Hereforrdshire.

BATH RUGBY FAN NEEDED

Are you an avid supporter of Bath Rugby? Do you think you know more than all the other fans? Can you write? If you answered yes to all 3, then how about you write for us?! We'll even give you some Wales Rugby Hospitality tickets as a thankyou!

We're looking for a dedicated fan to give us their perspective - send us a sample of your work to site [at] isport-media.com

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