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Posted 23/11/2021 in All things rugby by Host a Fan

The Rugby Capital of the UK? Bath's Best Rugby Pubs on a Matchday

The Rugby Capital of the UK? Bath's Best Rugby Pubs on a Matchday

From the city's famously grand Royal Crescent, to the striking abbey at the beating heart and of course, the world famous spa, there are many reasons that Bath is the UK's only UNESCO world heritage city. 

Not only a cultural and touristic hotbed, the picturesque city's Recreational Ground was even titled the 'Best Stadium in the World' in a recent study. Whilst that might be a bold and somewhat controversial claim, it does add weight to Bath being the UK's rugby capital, supported by an historic rugby club, many local amateur clubs and lots of passionate locals.

But, if you're heading to Bath for a match, it can be hard to know where to go to find those local pubs and gems so we've done the ground work for you and asked over 150 local supporters where they'd recommend to visit on a game day. 

Here's their Top 10 pubs you have to visit if you're in Bath on a Matchday. 

(Please note that, as a small city centre, all pubs are a walking distance and there is a convenient map at the bottom of the page to help you plan any pub crawl (all in under an hour walking). Please note - Host a Fan will take no responsibility for any inebriated mishaps, tellings off from your partner or an at-best hazy recollection of the match). 

10. Bath Brew House 

Kicking off our Top 10 is this newish addition to the Bath pub scene that boasts classic pub grub, local ales (as the name may suggest) and a dining area if you fancy a pre-match meal. It has a large outdoor seated courtyard that's popular with students, tourists and rugby supporters alike, perfect if you happen to be in Bath on one of the 8.5 days of the year that it's actually sunny here and a covered courtyard for the rest of the year (don't worry - that's just a joke. I think). 

Anyway, it's a short 5-10 minute walk to the ground through the city centre, depending on whether you can avoid the temptation of a quick, cheap one at the Wetherspoons just a few doors down - we beg you to do so - there are plenty of better spots on this list. 

Best for: Soaking up the sun on a summer's day. 

9. The Pulteney Arms

Hidden at the end of Bath's most famous street, the eponymous Great Pulteney Street, is this gem of a rugby-themed pub. As well as a selection of local real ales, locally-sourced food and a burning log fire in the winter, The Pulteney Arms features some nostalgic rugby memorabilia, including figurines of past players and signed shirts. It's reasonably priced for both drink and food and this punter recommends the steak dinner - but only if you give some to the friendly pub dog, Hugo. 

Best for: Being well-located but feeling off the beaten track

8. Ring O' Bells

Just a short walk from the train station, across the pedestrian footbridge, you'll find the quaint high street of Widcombe. Boasting a number of local, indpenedent shops and a popular deli, it is also home to two thriving local pubs (see The Ram enrty for the other), both of which are popular with locals who come from the south side of the city. 

Like two captain's facing off in the tunnel, Ring O' Bells and The Ram straddle the bustling high street, with the former being a great spot offering reasonably priced pub grub food and drink. A new outdoor seating area is inevitably dressed up as a sun trap and can accommodate up to 60 people on a matchday before a leisurely 5-10 minute walk (depending on how many beers you've had) along the river to the Rec.

Best for: Having a browse in local shops on your visit to Bath

7. The Huntsman

Standing proudly in the heart of the city and very close to the world famous 1860 Sally Lunn's Eating House, The Huntsman combines a grand architecture, both inside and out, with a bustling and lively watering hole for supporters on a matchday, sprinkled with a dash of Bath history. 

If you've not yet had too many pints, the Rec should be visible from the outside and from the large Georgian first floor windows, where diners can sample a full range of food.

Best for: Classic Bath Grand architecture, both inside and outside

DON'T FORGET: If you're looking to stay in Bath on your away trip, we've got friendly, local supporters so you can save the accommodation costs to buy your host a pint in one of the pubs in this list. Join for free here.

6. Pig & Fiddle 

Trotting into our top 5 is the thriving Pig & Fiddle towards the trendy Walcot area of the city. Part of the regional Butcombe family of pubs, it has recently been refurbished and has both indoor and outdoor screens showing live sport. If you're a little bit quirky, slightly edgy or just a bit hip, this is the spot for you. 

Serving everything from craft beer and cask ale to wine and even cocktails, it mixes old with contemporary and even boasts a brunch menu if you want to line the stomach before your big day of drinking (I know they say eating is cheating but there are lots of pubs on this list to get through so I personally recommend being well-prepared).  

Best for: A spot of brunch to line your stomach for the day ahead.

5. The Ram, Widcombe High Street

The Ram is rammed with good beer and HD TVs

If you've only got time (or the requisite liver) for a five-stop pub crawl, then start at Widcombe's other high street, local, The Ram. With not one, not two, but five HD widescreen TVs, and a dartboard, it's a great place to go if there's a match or two on before the Bath game as it's bound to be shown here, and if it's not on the tele, just ask Dave or the bar staff and they'll happily put it on for you. What's more, being just a bridge and very short walk away from the train station, there's likely to be plenty of travelling fans in there too and a warm, friendly welcome from the locals. 

The Ram strikes the perfectly delicate balance between a sports bar and an attractive, friendly and welcoming venue for all patrons.

Best for: Plenty of TV Screens showing the live action

4. The Rising Sun

An outdoor seating area is a sun trap on approximately 2 matchdays per season

Staying on the theme of the sun and coming in at number 4 on our list is the Rising Sun, a proudly independent, family run city centre pub that's conveniently located just a Orlando Bailey kick away from The Rec. 

Both the pub and its attractive courtyard seating area which is also covered (see above), are the very definition of a hidden gem that's popular with locals and rugby folk alike. Situated just off the world-famous Pulteney Bridge, it's always got a friendly atmosphere and a warm welcome.

Best for: Finding a local, hidden gem that serves great food.

3. The Volunteer Rifleman Arms

The 'Volley' as it is known by locals is a hidden gemSituated quietly but proudly in amongst Bath's many quaint inner-city streets, is the Volunteer Rifleman's Arms, or 'The Volley' as the locals affectionately call it. If you're after a truly old-school, local feel, old-fashioned humour, a bit of banter and you're not easily offened, then this is the pub for you! 

Famous for when Nigel Farage tucked his oft-offending lips into a pint of real ale here, it is situated right in the centre of Bath's thriving shopping scene and, like many of the pubs, has rugby memorabilia but flanks this with military themed posters and traditional British decor. 

P.S. If you're coming from across the border, fear not, rather than being shot at - you'll find a Welsh classics section on their new reasonably-priced food menu.

Best for: Traditional matchday atmosphere

2. Flan O'Brien's

Flans sits on the corner of Bath's bustling Westgate dining areaSitting proudly on the corner between one of Bath's main streets, Westgate St and the city's very lively Westgate quarter, is Bath's best Irish pub, Flan O'Brien's. As well as being very well located, Flan's - as it is known locally, - boasts rugby memorabilia, Bath's best Guinness (apparently) and an outdoor seating area in one of the city's busiest, bustling areas with several wine and cocktail bars, indpendent restaurants and restaurant chains just a ball's throw away. 

Perhaps the jewel in Flan's crown, and in true Irish tradtition, there's also a good chance you'll get to see some live music from a local artist. In fact, host a fan has even danced and sung to one with a lets-just-say-very-tipsy Taulupe Faletau. You may bump (literally) into a Bath player or 2 in Flan's

Best For: Live local music & a bustling outdoor seating area 

DON'T FORGET: If you're looking to stay in Bath on your away trip, we've got friendly, local supporters so you can save the accommodation costs to buy your host a pint in one of the pubs in this list. Join for free here.

1. The BoaterConveniently situated at the intersection between the world famous Pulteney Bridge and the gorgeous Georgian architecture of Great Pulteney Street is a pub that combines all of the other features of the pubs on this list. Don't be fooled by its small exterior appearance, The Boater boasts a thriving beer garden that can host over 200 supporters on a matchday with its own bar, as well as the three indoor bars. All in all, this is an atmospheric and convenient final watering hole on any pub crawl, given that it's only a short drunken stumble (mind the bloody tree roots though) from here to your place in the stands (and back). 

Perhaps best of all in this world-heritage city, and clinching top place, is the fact that it has spectacular views across the famous Pulteney Weir, the rear side of Pulteney Bridge and the lush green hillside that gives this city its unique 'large village' feel.

Best for: An all-round experience and proximity to the stadium. 

CONSIDERABLE MENTIONS: Please bear in mind that these are the best rugby-themed pubs in Bath but that the city also has a number of other highly popular local watering holes and pubs serving local food, drinks and a friendly welcome. Including: The Raven, The Grapes, Bollard's Bar, The Westgate, The Saracens Head, The Star, The Assmebly Inn, The Chequers, The Marlborough Tavern, The Curfew, The Royal Oak (Twerton), The Boathouse, The Hare & Hounds, The Cork and many, many more. 

Map showing locations: 

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