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RUGBY LEAGUE ACADEMY LAUNCHES AT FILTON COLLEGE

Filton College’s list of sports academies has grown again with the launch of a brand new Rugby League Academy based at the WISE Campus in Stoke Gifford – and would-be League stars of the future are being given a chance to stake their claim to a place on the programme.The Academy, which will open its doors for the first group of students in September, will be run by the newly appointed Head Coach Dan Garbutt.

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SONICS SET FOR HUGE WEEKEND OF RUGBY LEAGUE IN BRISTOL

Rugby fans in Bristol are in for a treat this weekend, as Bristol Sonics host a ‘huge weekend’ of Rugby League for free – including the top-of-the-table Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands clash between the Sonics and Northampton Demons.The weekend also includes another chance to check out the Sonics fast-improving second team as they take on Cooperative RLC West of England table-toppers Witshire Wyverns, and the first ever West of England Junior Rugby League festival.A veritable feast of 13-a-side rugby kicks off at Aretians RFC (Station Road, Little Stoke) on Saturday lunchtime, when Bristol Sonics A attempt to topple RLC West of England leaders Wiltshire Wyverns (kick-off 1pm).The visitors have yet to lose this season, while the Sonics second string have improved every week and last Saturday grabbed a dramatic 26-all draw with Gloucestershire Warriors. The Sonics’ seconds have played the Wyverns just once before, losing heavily in a friendly last season. Bristol will be keen to get revenge – particularly since there are now vital league points at stake.At the conclusion of that fixture, Bristol Sonics’ unbeaten first team will take to the field against the only other side in the Cooperative RLC Midlands competition with a similar 100 per cent record: highly-tipped Northampton Demons (kick-off 2.30pm).The Demons and the Sonics’ first teams have never met, and the two sides’ respective records this season point to a hard-fought but exciting contest. Both teams boast miserly defensive records, and both teams have racked up huge scores in leading their respective Midlands qualifying groups. Something has to give.Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann can’t wait for Saturday: ‘I genuinely think that this game could be something of a classic. We’ve been playing pretty well so far this season and got some great results, but their results have, if anything, been even more impressive. For the last couple of weeks there’s been a huge buzz in training, and it’s all because of this game. It should be a cracker.’With Sonics’ Director of Coaching Karl Fearnley away, assistant coach and Junior Chairman Stafford Lloyd will deputise. He will be boosted by the return of influential half backs Dom Swann and Tom James, while Scotland A international Dom Pullen and former Wales international winger Andrew Bond could be in line to make their debuts. Elsewhere, James Gross is likely to revert to full-back, while Harry Marson could start at hooker instead of Joel Keane, who has been tipped for an unlikely positional switch.Stafford Lloyd said: “So far this season a lot of players have impressed, both for the first and second team, so choosing a starting 13 and a squad of 20 for the Northampton game is tough. At training this week we had nearly 50 players put their hands up for the weekend’s matches. We just need to get the balance right in the first team between attack and defence, because Northampton are a fantastic side. It’s good to have selection headaches, but it doesn’t make my job any easier.”Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole has called on Rugby fans in the area to head down to Aretians on Saturday to cheer on the Sonics’ two open-age sides. He said: “There are two terrific games in prospect, so it would be great to see a big crowd cheering the lads on. The weather is going to be clear and hot – perfect weather to watch rugby. We play in a very attacking style, so it should make for a great afternoon of entertainment.”