Bath's magic man Finn Russell is full of tricks at the Rec

Bath’s magic man Finn Russell is full of tricks at the Rec and the Scotland star is fully-focused on helping his club’s quest to pull some silverware out of the hat

  • Scotland No 10 Finn Russell joined Bath after leaving French side Racing 92
  • Russell has had a transformative impact since linking up after the World Cup 
  • At 31, he’s experienced but has the moments of wizardry from his younger days

‘I usually save my tricks for the weekend!’ said Finn Russell, sitting down for a masterclass with a magician before Bath’s weekly media session. Taking hold of a deck of cards, the No 10 attempted the sleight of hand that has already established himself as the club’s resident entertainer.

There has not been much to dazzle the West Country fans over the last few years but that has all changed since Russell’s arrival in October. He parked the disappointment of Scotland’s early World Cup exit and immediately went about steering Bath back to winning ways.

‘I love it here,’ said Russell, who spent the last five years playing for Racing 92. ‘They sell the Rec out pretty much every week. It’s my first time playing for a team that the city is fully behind. In Glasgow there’s obviously football there and Paris is such a big city – Stade Francais and PSG – so there’s a lot of other things going on. Here in Bath it’s a proper rugby town, it’s great fun.’

Russell arrived with a big price tag and big expectations. Aged 31, he is now a senior figure in the sport, recognised for his mature game management as well as the moments of wizardry that defined his 20s. He has joined forced with the likes of Alfie Barbeary and Ollie Lawrence to inject new life into the club, steering them towards the top of the Premiership and a winning start in Europe.

‘When I saw the signings the club made a year ago now, for the back end of last season, then chatting to Johann [van Graan] and hearing how he sees the club progressing, it was a really exciting opportunity to get involved in.

Tik Tok magician Dan Rhodes (left) gave Bath stars Sam Harris (second left), Finn Russell (second right) and Will Stuart (right) a lesson in magic at The Rec

Russell, 31, joined Bath in the summer after spending five years with French outfit Racing 92

‘I had a few questions before I met Johann. He was at Munster before who kicked the ball a lot, so I was sceptical about how it would be with me coming here. Working with him, I wasn’t too sure, but after that first meeting it’s a bit far to say I felt at home straight away.’

It has not taken long for the Russell family to settle in. He relocated with his partner, Emma, and their one-year-old daughter, Charlie. Russell’s party boy days are largely behind him, more likely to be found this winter with a cup of green tea than a bottle of Buckfast.

‘I’m looking around here and I might be the second oldest back! As a 10 that’s not a bad thing. I’m 31, I’ve got a mix of a lot of experience but I’m also physically able to do the job as well. It’s not as if I’m late 30s and reliant on the mental side more than the physical. I think I’ve got a good balance just now of experience and age.

‘I’m not trying to teach these boys anything new, things they don’t already know, I’m just showing them how I see the game, how I’m going to try and play it. At times I’ve been in their situation, whether it’s on or off field, so I can have a chat with them to make sure they’re happy, going into the weekend, with nothing but the gameplan in their minds.

‘I still have a beer with them in the changing room afterwards. It’s just my responsibilities have changed obviously. I’m not able to wake up at 12 in the afternoon any more on a day off, or just lie on the couch watching telly all day. Whatever they go and do afterwards I couldn’t care to be honest, as long as they turn up Monday and they’re ready to go again.’

Russell lives 50 metres up the road from Cameron Redpath, his team-mate for club and country. Redpath is one of several centres relishing the opportunity to play outside one of the world’s leading No10s. Despite the often boggy conditions at the Rec, entertainment will always be high on their agenda.

‘These boys, with the style of rugby we’re playing, have a lot of confidence to have a crack, have a go, to get the ball in their hands and try and execute the option that they are seeing. Whether that is a chip over the top or a double miss pass. They have got the backing of the rest of the team and the coaches behind them which I think helps and brings the best out of them.

`You definitely get a sense here that it is not just us as a rugby team, it is the whole town that is pushing to try and get that silverware. Through the results we’ve been getting and the way we are playing, I’d like to think we have got a bit of belief back in the city. They’ve been coming along and filling the stadium out whether or not they have been bottom of the league. As players, we are definitely getting that belief back with some of the results that we have had.’

Russell linked up with his new team immediately after Scotland’s World Cup disappointment

He has had a transformative impact already at the West Country club and dazzled supporters

As for Russell’s personal goals, the 2025 Lions tour should be high on his agenda. He is yet to start a Test match for the touring side but he could be in his prime by the time the side travel out to Australia.

‘Obviously the Lions tour is just over a year and a half away,’ said Russell. ‘Currently, for me, it’s just about doing as well as I can here. I want to win silverware. I’ve not won anything since 2015 so that’s my main goal just now. If I’m doing the job here and manage to get some silverware, you never know what might happen off the back of that.

‘Getting silverware is the most important thing right now, whether that’s in Europe or in the Premiership. And when I get into the Scotland camp for the Six Nations I’ll be focussed on trying to get something there. I think that’s probably the best way to try and get over the disappointment of the World Cup.’

With a flash of Russell’s rugby magic, anything is possible.

Finn, Will Stuart and Sam Harris were learning magic from Tik Tok magician Dan Rhodes ahead of the festive season where they were given a 101 on tricks dexterity and sleight of hand. Watch Dan’s tips and tricks above.

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