Bristol Sonics has withdrawn from the West of England League with immediate effect.

The club took the dramatic step following a second successive week in which it was unable to raise a side. The move means that the Sonics will not play any competitive fixtures in 2018, putting the future of the club at stake.

The club, which was founded in 2002 and is among the longest running in the region, issued the following statement.

“Today, the committee and coaches of Bristol Sonics RLFC have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from the West of England League with immediate effect. This means that the Sonics will not take to the field in organized competition this season. Weekly sessions of touch rugby league and light training will continue to take place on the Durdham Downs, with the aim of playing some friendly fixtures later in the season. The Sonics hope to re-apply to join the West of England League for the 2019 season.

The decision to step down from the West of England league was not taken lightly. Extensive and strenuous efforts have been made behind the scenes to address the club’s problems, which mostly stem from volunteer burnout, player availability and player commitment. The Sonics started 2018 with a squad decimated by injuries, retirements and transfers to other West of England League clubs. Although we have actively been trying to recruit new players, with modest success, this is not enough to get through a full West of England League season.

We passionately want Rugby League to succeed in Bristol and for the Sonics to be a force again in future, with a full compliment of adult, junior and youth sides. This can only be achieved with commitment from a new group of volunteers, players, coaches and supporters. We have already begun the process of rebuilding and would encourage anyone who wants to see Rugby League survive and thrive in our great city to get in touch with Sonics founder Phil Cole via email on phil.cole@bristolsonics.con, follow us on social media and look at our website regularly. Any players who wish to try their hand at the sport are encouraged to come down to sessions on Wednesday nights. For full details of these, and our rebuilding plans as they develop, please keep an eye on

Bristol Sonics club founder Phil Cole said: “Unfortunately this day has been coming for a few years. Although those involved saw the writing on the wall, our small but dedicated team of volunteers was unable to stop the slide. I know they did everything they could to avoid withdrawing from the league, and I’m grateful in particular to player-coaches Blake Knowlson and Simon Bannister, who have worked tirelessly in recent months to try and get a team on the pitch.

“Rugby League has a long history in Bristol and we passionately want to see this continue. However, we need fresh blood, fresh ideas, passion and commitment. We will be using the next few months to work out what went wrong and form a plan moving forwards. I would encourage anyone who wishes to see Rugby League survive and thrive in Bristol to come forwards, whether they are previous players who are committed to the sport in their home city, passionate Rugby League fans, or people with a skill set that they think could be of use to the Sonics. This is not the end, merely the beginning of a new chapter.”

Further updates will be posted on in the weeks and months ahead.


Training Starts Wednesday 18th April

Open Age training starts on Wednesday 18th April 7pm on Durdham Downs, opposite the water tower. It is likely to remain on thew Downs for a few weeks until the grass pitches at Dings Crusaders’ Shaftesbury Park ground are available after reseeding. Any changes will be notified on the website and social media.

All new players are welcome and the first sessions will be introducing the basics of the game and followed by a drink at the top of Whiteladies Road. New players can just turn up on the evening or get in touch in advance through the website or social media.


Open Meeting Wed 28th March

With the 2018 West of England Rugby League season fast approaching, Bristol Sonics RLFC is holding an open meeting to discuss the future of the sport in the city.

The meeting is an opportunity for all those interested in Rugby League in Bristol or South Gloucestershire to get together, meet others that share your passion and debate the path forwards in the months and years ahead.

The Sonics are particularly keen to involve anyone who is interested in playing, coaching, volunteering or sponsoring the club, but casual supporters are also encouraged to attend. We’ll be discussing both adult and junior/youth Rugby League, possible high profile RL developments in the city and looking at ways that we can strengthen both Bristol Sonics and the wider roots of the sport in the city.

The meeting will take place at Shaftsbury Park in Frenchay, the new home of Sonics’ good friends Dings Crusaders RFC, on Wednesday March 28th 2018, starting at 7pm. For more details on location and directions from the ring road/M32/M4, check out this post on Dings’ website:

If you cannot make the meeting due to other commitments but are interested in getting involved, either as a player, volunteer, coach or supporter, please email and we’ll do our provide you with all the information you need.



Bristol Sonics Head Coach Dom Swann has called on his side to put last weekend’s disappointing derby loss to Bath Rugby League behind them when they travel to face Swindon St George on Saturday (20th May).

Swann was furious with his side following Saturday’s defeat, claiming that they missed too many tackles and made too many errors with ball-in-hand. He’s looking for a vast improvement when the Sonics face the 2016 West of England League runners-up at Supermarine Sports & Social Club, Swindon, this Saturday.

Swann said: “There’s no two ways about it, we were poor on Saturday. Bath did the basics better than us and deserved to win, but I felt like we didn’t make them work hard enough for the victory. Swindon are a very good side, as they showed when they beat us in the West of England League semi-finals last August, so we can’t afford to be making the same kind of basic errors. To win, we need to complete our sets, defend better around the ruck and show a bit more composure in attack.

The Sonics player-coach, who is the only player to have featured in every season since the club’s inception in 2002, also told his players to forget about what happened when the two sides last met. He said: “The semi-final loss was disappointing but Swindon were the better side on the day. I don’t want players to be looking for revenge or making amends for that loss. It’s a new season and I want them to look ahead. All they need to do is focus on their game and help out their team mates for 80 minutes. If we do that, we have more than enough quality in the side to win, though it won’t be easy given their organisation and the players at their disposal.

On Saturday, Swann will have to make do without a number of injured players, including second-rower Mike Gaston, halfback Jamie Dinning and scrum half Jamie Swann. He’s boosted by the return of experienced players Lawrence Roycroft, Alex Potts and Jack Farler. Dan Brooker, who spent last season at Oxford following a close-season transfer, is in line to make his first appearance for Bristol since 2015. Swann may also be able to call on Sam Hodge and Jack Uren, who have been loaned to the Sonics by Championship 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds on a dual-registration deal. Uren, whose younger brother Joe also plays for the Sonics, made his first appearance for Bristol in 18 monthslast Saturday, scoring a trademark short-range try in the second half.

Saturday, Swann said: “We’re very grateful to Lee Greenwood at the All Golds for making Jack and Sam available to us. Both are Bristol lads on the fringes of their first time who are in need of game time. Jack started in the Sonics’ junior academy and played a big role in helping us reach the 2015 West of England Grand Final, so we’re hoping he’ll have a similar impact this season. If we can play a role in getting him back into Lee’s plans by giving him game time, it can only benefit everyone involved.”

Bristol Sonics face Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports & Social Club, Swindon, on Saturday May 20th, kick-off 2.30pm. Entrance is free for spectators.



A new Rugby League rivalry will begin on Saturday (13th May), when Bristol Sonics travel to Chippenham RFC to face Bath Rugby League for the very first time (kick-off 2.30pm).

The match not only marks the start of the 2017 West of England League season, but also the competitive debut of Bath Rugby League, a club formed earlier in the year by former Bath & Wiltshire Romans Chairman Chris Chatten.

Both Bristol and Bath have been placed in the West of England League’s “group of death” alongside 2016 Champions Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, beaten Grand Finalists Swindon St George, Plate winners Oxford Cavaliers and beaten Plate finalists Southampton Spitfires. The high quality of the other teams in the pool makes Saturday’s derby is a “must win” game for both sides.

Bristol Sonics Head Coach Dom Swann said: “The debut of any new club, particular a geographically close local rival, is a big occasion, but we don’t want Bath’s players and supporters to be celebrating at the end of the game. I’ve set the players the goal of making the top two at the end of the league campaign, which would put us in with a shout of reaching the Grand Final. If we’re going to do that, then we need to start by beating Bath Rugby League on Saturday.

“I’m expecting a very tough game. Bath’s side contains a number of players new to Rugby League, but also some others who have caused us problems when playing for other clubs in the region. If we go into the match with the wrong attitude and don’t follow the game plan then we could come unstuck. Nothing less than a strong performance and we could find ourselves in trouble.”

For the trip to Bath’s Chippenham RFC home, which last year hosted the West of England Grand Finals Day, Swann must do without inspirational skipper Alex Potts, injured backs Tom McIntosh and Jamie Swann, and fellow player/coach Lawrence Roycroft. A number of recent recruits are in line for West of England League debuts, including prop Phil Dickinson, centre Aedan Coleman, former Swindon St George forward Ben Brinkworth and utility player Jamie Dinning. Three of the Sonics West of England Lionhearts representatives – Byron Edwards, Matt Blacker and Jonny Mawer – are set to be named in Swann’s starting line-up.

Bristol Sonics face Bath Rugby League at Chippenham RFC on Saturday, May 13th, kick-off 2.30pm. Spectators are welcome.





New Bristol Sonics Chairman Byron Edwards has issued an invite to all prospective Rugby League players to head down to pre-season training this week.

With the 2017 West of England League season fast approaching, the Sonics begin pre-season training on Wednesday, April 5th, at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground (6.45pm for a 7pm start).

Chairman Edwards, who also plays as a prop forward for the Sonics, has invited all those interested in playing Rugby League in Bristol and South Gloucestershire to head down to training and stake their claim for a first team place.

He said: “The Sonics are always looking for new adult players regardless of age or previous experience and with training starting on Wednesday, now is the time to head down to Dings and get involved. We’ll make you very welcome and you don’t need to worry if you’ve not played League before, as we’ll give you coaching on the rules, tactics, technique and the finer points of the sport.

League is a fast, dynamic, exciting, all-action contact sport that rewards effort and team work. The sport is not known by those who play it as “The Greatest Game” for nothing!”

Edwards is one of three Sonics players who recently traveled across to Dublin as part of the West of England Lionhearts representative side that beat Ireland Under-20s 36-32 in a thriller. He believes that the potential to represent your country on the international stage will be a draw for some prospective players.

It was such an honour to represent the West of England Lionhearts over in Ireland and the forthcoming international tours they have planned for 2018 and 2019 are hugely exciting. The squad is made up of players from clubs across the West of England – not just Bristol, but also Bath, Gloucester, Chippenham, Oxford and Swindon, for starters – who own their place through performances across the league season.

When I first started playing League for the Sonics two or three years ago I never dreamed that it would allow me to represent my country abroad. If I can do it, then I’m sure there are loads of other players not involved in League at present who could take up the game with the Sonics and earn their own representative cap. The first stage to getting that call-up is coming down to training and taking your place in the 2017 squad.”

The Sonics will begin the 2017 season – their last at Landseer Avenue, before moving with Dings Crusaders to their new Shaftsbury Park home in Frenchay later in the year – at the West of England 9s competition in Swindon on Saturday May 6th. The following week, they will kick-off their league campaign against new club Bath RLFC at Chippenham RFC. The Sonics first home game, against 2017 Champions Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, will take place on Saturday June 3rd.


Bristol Head Coach Dom Swann has big plans for 2017 and has set his side the task of getting to the West of England League Grand Final, after the 2016 season ended with a limp play-off semi-final loss to eventual beaten finalists Swindon St George. He said: “Last season was a missed opportunity, but in hindsight we got what we deserved in the semi-final. To compete for honours we need a bigger squad and more players at training. I will pick players on merit due to their performances in both training and matches. Any new players that come down to training will have as much chance of making the team as those who are returning from previous seasons. I urge anyone who fancies playing to come down to training on Wednesday night and stake their claim for a place in the team.”


Bristol Sonics pre-season training takes place at Dings Crusaders RFC, Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, every Wednesday night from April 5th(6.45pm for a 7.00pm start).



2017 Season

Preparations are underway for the 2017 season and the club would like to hear from prospective players. Having reached the West of England semi-finals last season, the club has set its sights on going all the way in 2017.

Sonics coach Dom Swann is looking to build a strong squad for this year’s campaign: “We played some good rugby at times last season but didn’t have the strength in depth towards the business end of the season. So we’re looking to build a large squad this year. Competition for places is key to us progressing and it would be great to be able to field a second team again this year so we’re looking for players of all experiences and abilities.

Last season we had a lot of players new to the game and I’m sure they’ll all tell you how much they enjoyed the season. We’re a really open and friendly club so I’d encourage anyone to come and give rugby league a go. There will be plenty happening off the pitch as well this season with regular socials and hopefully a tour”

The Sonics will be competing in a new-look West of England division with pre-season training starting on Wednesday 5th April 2017.

Any prospective players should register their interest using the Contact Us page.



Bristol Sonics’ 2016 season came to an abrupt end on Saturday, as they lost 42-22 to Swindon St George in the West of England League semi-final.

The Sonics headed into the game in fine form, but were brushed aside by an inspired Swindon side who never took a backwards step. It was a rare victory for the men from Wiltshire over their M4 corridor rivals, and saw them deservedly book a place in next Saturday’s West of England Grand Final at Chippenham RFC.

Bristol were simply outplayed and outfought by the home side, who played with mostly controlled aggression and great skill to triumph in an absorbing, high intensity contest at Supermarine RFC in Swindon. The Sonics were lacking a little firepower up front, and with only one recognised forward on the interchange bench, found it tough going against a Swindon side who were able to roll fresh forwards on and off at will.

The Sonics had arrived in Swindon in confident mood, but began the game badly. An early error handed possession to the home side, who scored on their first set of six tackles. The ball was moved wide to speedy winger Ash Perry, who seared past his opposite number and dived over between the sticks, stand-off Tomley converting. Five minutes later, Swindon doubled their lead, veteran prop forward RIchard White – who could have later been sent-off for a head-butt on Sonics captain Alex Potts, which was unfortunately missed by the referee – barging through some weak tackles. Tomley again added the extras.

While Bristol began to get back into the game after this nightmare start, they fell further behind after 19 minutes when Sam Williams crossed the whitewash, Tomley’s third successful conversion making it 18-0.

The Sonics were struggling to make ground, and were guilty of dropping passes and missing key tackles. Away supporters finally got something to cheer on 25 minutes, when top try scorer George Burnie collected an offload from skipper Alex Potts and slid over. Player/coach Dom Swann nailed the conversion, and suddenly Bristol began playing with a little more confidence. A fine last tackle play from Dom Swann on 31 minutes opened up the space for winger Blake Knowlson to run back on the inside and dive over the try line. When Swann’s conversion attempt sailed over, it appeared Bristol were finally back in business.

Swindon, though, were in no mood to throw away their best chance yet of beating the Sonics to a Grand Final spot. Two tries in the closing five minutes of the half from Ash Perry and Liam Rowe – both converted by Tomley – restored their 18-point advantage and a daunting 30-12 half-time lead.

The Sonics improved defensively in the opening period of the second half, but were still struggling to consistently break down Swindon’s well organised defence. With 22 minutes remaining Bristol finally made the breakthrough, winger Joe Uren – brother of former Sonic Jack Uren, now starring for the University of Gloucestertshire All Golds in Kingstone Press Championship League One – sliding over in the corner for a try that Swann sadly couldn’t convert.

With 12 minutes remaining, the Sonics scored again, with George Burnie powering through to pick up his 12th try in five appearances for Bristol this season. Swann’s calm conversion reduced the arrears to 10 points.

Swindon were still working hard, but there was at least a glimmer of hope for Bristol to hold onto. They would require two scores – at least one converted – in the final 10 minutes to get out of jail and book their place in the Grand Final.

Bristol threw everything at the home side, but a combination of Sonics errors and superb Swindon defence thwarted their attempts. With just three minutes remaining, Sam Williams grabbed his second score of the afternoon, converted by Tomley, to seal victory. A converted try on the final whistle simply rubbed salt into the wounds of Bristol’s exhausted and shell shocked players.

Bristol Sonics captain Alex Potts said: “We’re all absolutely gutted by that result. We came into the game in decent form, and although we could have done with a few more forwards on the bench, the side we had out was pretty good. In the end, we were simply outplayed. We missed far too many tackles in the first half, and by the time we sorted that out in the second half, we’d given ourselves far too much to do. We never really clicked in attack, bar a few good moves that ended in tries, and made far too many errors. We’ve perhaps not done ourselves justice, but full credit should go to Swindon – they were by far and away the better side on the day and fully deserved their victory. Good luck to them in the final – it would be nice to see them win the title after the excellent season they’ve had.”

Bristol Sonics player/coach Dom Swann said: “In hindsight, I think some of our victories this season were a bit too easy, and papered over the cracks that were appearing. We paid the price for not having a settled side, not training together enough, and making far too many individual and collective errors. We were a little surprised at how much better Swindon were than when we last played them, 12 months ago, but that’s no excuse – we came here expecting a very tough game, and that’s what we got. On the day we were simply not good enough. It’s a disappointing way to end our season, but we should be proud of what we achieved. We beat everyone else in our half of the draw, bar Portsmouth, comfortably, played some good rugby and got decent team spirit going. Hopefully we can build on this next season and make amends for missing this great opportunity to compete for silverware. We can use that loss as motivation during the long off-season break.”