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Sale wants January talks with Ford over move

Sale will seek talks with George Ford in January after confirming their interest in recruiting the England fly-half.

Todd Blackadder, Bath's director of rugby, stated on Monday that Ford would be allowed to leave the Recreation Ground at the end of the season and the Sharks have leapt ahead of Leicester and Northampton in the race for his signature.

The 23-year-old was born in Oldham and has been linked with a move away from the west country from the moment his father Mike was sacked by Bath last summer.

George Ford could head back north. Credit: PA

Aviva Premiership regulations state that from January 1 he is permitted to talk to other clubs and Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond is hoping to open negotiations as soon as possible.

"We would be interested in anyone of George Ford's ability," Diamond told BBC North West Tonight.

"We've not had direct contact [with Bath or George], but when January 1 arrives and the transfer window opens we can start discussions if he fancies a chat."

But the bookies think Ford is most likely to stay at the Rec.

Betway are now taking bets on where the England fly-half will be at the start of the 2017/18 season.

While Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks are the likely front-runners if he does move to another Premiership club, the bookies' overwhelming favourite is for the 23-year-old to stay at Bath, at 8/11.

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Bath Rugby deny imminent takeover

Bath are yet to replace coach Mike Ford. Credit: PA

Bath Rugby have firmly stomped out rumours that the club is being taken over by new owners.

The Aviva Premiership club wrote an open letter to supporters, published on their website, in response to rumours about the future of owner Bruce Craig.

Bath are as yet to replace Mike Ford, who stepped down as coach at the end of the 2016 season.

We would like to take this opportunity to address recent rumours in the media, and confirm that Bath Rugby is not being sold and will remain under the sole ownership of Bruce Craig. The Club, the team, and the stadium development all remain a long term commitment and passion for Bruce.

We recognise that there has been a lot of rumour and speculation lately, particularly with regard to the coaching structure, and we understand your frustrations while waiting for news.

We are in the process of finalising the coaching structure and we will notify you as soon as an announcement is ready to be made.Thank you for all your ongoing support and patience.

– Bath Rugby

Bath confirm Houston exit

Bath Rugby have confirmed Leroy Houston will leave the club to return to Australia, and the Queensland Reds.

After three seasons and 89 appearances, Leroy Houston will leave Bath and return to Super Rugby to further his chances of playing international rugby for Australia.

Houston has spent three seasons at the Rec Credit: CHARLIE FORGHAM-BAILEY/Sportimage/PA Images

The 29 year old previously represented Australia A, was selected as an 18-year-old to tour Europe with the Wallabies in 2005, and won a Super 15 title with the Reds in 2011.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me – I have loved every minute of playing for Bath. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Club for making my time here so enjoyable, and for their understanding in allowing me to leave to pursue my international ambitions. I’d also like to thank the fantastic supporters, who have given me so much support since I’ve been here – they’ve been amazing to me.

Getting the opportunity to represent my country has always been an ambition of mine, and getting the chance to realise that is the only reason that I would even consider leaving Bath.

I love this Club, the people here and the beautiful city, and I will definitely miss it - I’ll be watching and cheering on from Australia!

– Leroy Houston

Leroy has been fantastic in his time at Bath, and we’re really sad to see him go. His performances speak for themselves – he’s always given 100% every time he’s pulled on the Bath shirt. He’s been a hugely popular member of the squad, always smiling and willing to go the extra mile, and we’ll miss that. We’d all love to see him achieve his aim of playing for Australia.

– Toby Booth, First Team Coach

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Bath first team coach to join England set up

Neal Hatley talks to head coach Mike Ford Credit: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport

Bath Rugby have confirmed first team coach Neal Hatley will join the England set up at the end of the season as their scrum coach.

It’s been a real privilege to have been part of Bath Rugby these past four years.

I’d like to thank my fellow coaches, players and staff for an unforgettable time, during which this team has reached some new heights. I’ll also never forget how great the Bath supporters have been, and I’m hoping we can give them more reason to cheer with two games remaining this season.

– Neal Hatley

I’d like to thank Bath Rugby for their understanding and allowing me to take up this fantastic opportunity. Being asked by Eddie Jones to be part of the national team’s coaching staff is a real honour, and a special moment for me and my family.

It's a very exciting time to be involved with this young England team and for the game in this country.

– Neal Hatley

Hatley joined Bath in 2012 and is widely regarded as one of the best forward coaches in the game.

He's described the move as a real honour, and a special moment for him and my family.

He will join the England setup at the end of the season.

England head coach, Eddie Jones Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

England Head Coach Eddie Jones described his arrival as an "important appointment" as the Grand Slam winners prepare for June's three-match tour of Australia.

We’re delighted to have brought Neal into the coaching team. Successful English rugby teams have always had strong, powerful, dominant scrums.

Neal is an experienced coach and has impressed me with the work he has done in English rugby.

I’ve no doubt he is the type of character who will thrive in an international environment.

– Eddie Jones, England head coach
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