Gloucester Rugby: Passionate support makes Bath match so huge, says Mike Tindall
CLASS warfare between Gloucester and Bath is great banter but the old rivals are two sides of the same coin, believes Mike Tindall.
World Cup winner Tindall rates the West Country derby among the greatest in this land.
And having experienced the phenomenon from either side of the fence, England's most-capped centre thinks both clubs understand what makes them tick – the supporters.
He explained: "That supposed difference between the clubs, that's just been built up through banter through the fans.
"Both clubs are built up around their supporters which makes them very similar in some respects.
"The passion comes from that as well.
"Everyone wants it to be competitive and physical. It normally turns out that way and they are normally cracking games.
"You jump on board with all of it, supporters are hugely important to any club.
"Both clubs know how passionate and knowledgeable their fans are."
Otley-born Tindall joined Bath straight from school, and in his eight years at The Rec he progressed to club and country mainstay, lifting the World Cup in 2003.
By the time he crossed the great divide in 2005 he believes the stigma around switching allegiance had lifted, thanks mainly to Rob Fidler.
John Fidler's son swapped Gloucester for Bath in 2003 after nine years and more than 250 games in Cherry and White.
Tindall loved his time at Bath, but saw a collective spirit at Kingsholm – and he still reckons it has lived up to his hopes and expectations.
He continued: "As soon as Fids did it, we were all, all right!
"I still don't believe Fids' dad talks to him, but still.
"This is my eighth season here, and looking forward, Kingsholm's become part of me.
"I've always said that club rugby is the best thing about the sport, it's your everyday, it's where your heart and head should always be."
Gearing up for Saturday's LV=Cup Bath clash at Kingsholm (kick-off 2pm), Tindall said both clubs approach the derby the same way.
He said: "The West Country derby is one of the standout great games of the Premiership, the local rivalry between the two clubs.
"Bath are still alive in this competition, but we've got to make sure we're firing on all cylinders going back into the Premiership the following week.
"You know they will send a strong team, we're fielding a very strong team too.
"Leicester-Northampton and Gloucester-Bath are the two big local rivalries and that hasn't really changed.
"It's the same both ways, from my experiences, at Bath we had always had a proud record against Gloucester.
"But now I've been here it's always Bath and how much the Shed wants to see Bath lose."
Two derbies stick out in Tindall's memory: both landmarks.
The 34-year-old still laments Gloucester's 24-18 Tetley's Bitter Cup win in November 2000, then the Cherry and Whites' first victory at The Rec in 29 years.
But he will never forget Gloucester's 18-3 triumph at the same ground in October 2010 – just a second league win at Bath in 23 years then too.
Two consecutive league doubles and a Premiership home win already this term now put Gloucester in derby control, but Tindall still believes attitude far outweighs record and expectation.
Tindall added: "That first loss in forever for Bath at home, that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
"But now on the reverse of that, I played for Gloucester when we started getting regular wins down there.
"The press had written us off but our brand of hard, physical rugby, it was great.
"You've got to arrive with the right attitude, and if you do you can get the result.
"It had rained a lot through the day but stopped for the night.
"I remember being in a huddle on the pitch and us saying, 'There's no way we're losing this game', and at no point did I think we would.
"Every win has its merits on its own, but certain games set certain things in motion, they give you belief – we have a chance to build some of that this weekend."