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FEAST OF RL IN BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND

Would-be Rugby League fans are being treated to a feast of Rugby League in Bristol this weekend, as the countdown to the city’s involvement in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup intensifies.

Fans keen to get a taste of League before the city hosts a World Cup game between USA and the Cook Islands in October can take in no less than FOUR matches in Bristol this weekend, with games spread over Saturday and Sunday.

 

Both Bristol Sonics’ adult sides will be in action on Saturday at Clifton RFC, Henbury, with the action starting at 1pm as the club’s second team aims to boost their West of England League play-off hopes with a win over local rivals Somerset Vikings.

 

Then, from 2.30pm, the Sonics take on fellow Conference League South title rivals Sheffield Hallam Eagles in a must-win shoot-out for top spot.

 

The Sonics currently sit top of the Conference League South table, one point ahead of pre-season favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles, a club set up by Sheffield Hallam Eagles and 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners Sheffield Eagles, and featuring many players from the latter’s “performance pathway”.

 

When the two sides met on the opening day of the season at Don Valley Stadium, home of the Eagles’ professional side and training base for London 2012 Gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, it was the Sonics who prevailed in a high scoring thriller. Yet when the two sides last clashed, at Dings in early June, it was Sheffield who won, battering the home side in another entertaining contest.

 

The two could yet meet in the end-of-season Grand Final at Hemel Stags’ Pennine Way ground in September, but neither side are looking that far ahead. With top spot at stake, both teams will be focused on getting a win on Saturday.

 

Sonics coach Aran Simm, who will be coaching both sides on Saturday due to the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley, said: “We’ve got a chance to do something very special on Saturday, but it will be incredibly difficult. Sheffield are a top side full of talented young players, some of whom are pressing for selection to the Eagles’ Championship side, which shows their quality. If we win it would be a momentous result. We’ve already beaten them once this season, so we know it can be done. Whatever happens, it should be a superb, high quality, highly intense game of Rugby League.”

 

Simm will have to make do without a string of Sonics’ first team regulars, including captain Dom Swann, prop Daniel Brooker and loose forward Rob Verber. He can welcome back hooker Harry Marson, and hopes to have experienced forward Wes Rodgers available after a short injury lay-off.

 

Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole is excited by the prospect of Saturday’s double-header at Clifton. He said: “This is the first, and possibly only, time this season both adult teams will be at home on the same afternoon. With both games meaning a lot to the teams’ league position, we’d love to get a big crowd to support the lads. They’ve been doing great things on the pitch for a while now, so it would be great for the Bristol public to get behind them. Even if you’ve never been to watch a Rugby League match before, we can guarantee you’ll be entertained.”

 

Entrance to Clifton on Saturday is £3, including complimentary, full colour matchday programme.

 

The Rugby League action continues on Sunday, as the Sonics’ juniors face their counterparts from Old Patesians, Cheltenham, at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (10.30am start, free entry). The Sonics under 14 and under 16 teams will both be in action, for only their second outing of the season, following games against Aber Valley in Wales last month.

For more information about the Sonics, fans are advised to check out www.bristolsonics.com and www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL
SATURDAY 6th JULY
Clifton RFC, Henbury
13.00 – Bristol Sonics ‘A’ v Somerset Vikings (West of England League)
14.30 – Bristol Sonics v Sheffield Hallam Eagles (Conference League South)
Entrance £3 including programme
SUNDAY 7th JULY
Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze
10.30 – Bristol Sonics U16 v Chletenham Old Patesians U16
followed by Bristol Sonics U14 v Cheltenham Old Patesians U14
Free entrance
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BIG WEEKEND AHEAD FOR BRISTOL RL

Four Bristol Sonics sides will take to the field this weekend, for the first time in 2013.

 

Both of the club’s open age teams are in action, with valuable league points at stake, while Bristol’s next generation of Rugby League players will make their bow with Under 14 and Under 16 games against Caerphilly.

 

On Saturday, the Sonics’ first team aim to keep pace with Southern Conference League leaders Sheffield Hallam Eagles by beating much-improved Leicester Storm at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (kick-off 2.30pm, entrance £3 including programme, under 16s free).

 

Meanwhile, the Sonics’ seconds face a daunting trip down the M5 to take on old rivals Somerset Vikings in the West of England League. Having lost two games on the bounce, Bristol will be keen to get back to winning ways against a strong home team who also tasted defeat last weekend.

 

Then, on Sunday, the club’s Under 14 and Under 16 teams will play their first games of 2013. Both sides face their counterparts from Caerphilly at Virginia Park, home of Caerphilly RFC.

 

The Sonics first team will be without a host of regulars when they try to come to terms with old rivals Leicester Storm on Saturday. The Sonics needed a last-minute try from veteran scrum half James Gross to secure victory when they last met at New College, Leicester in May.

 

Since then, both sides have been in decent form, with Leicester picking up wins over St Albans and Nottingham, and providing a number of problems for title favourites Sheffield Hallam at Don Valley Stadium last weekend. The Sonics, meanwhile, have lost only once this season and last week laboured to a 36-24 win at Northampton Demons.

 

Leicester are renowned for their strong defense, hard-running forwards and excellent fitness levels. With ex Sheffield Eagles Academy coach Dean Thomas at the helm, the Storm have made great strides in recent weeks. They will provide a stern test of the Sonics’ title credentials.

 

Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann is expecting a very difficult game on Saturday. He said: “All our games against Leicester are close, tight affairs. Although we’ve moved ahead of them in recent seasons, this year they’ve closed the gap. They’ll try and slow us down, take their chances and grind out a win. If we’re going to beat them we need to put together a proper ’80-minute performance’, something we’ve struggled with of late.”

 

Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley looks set to be without a string of first choice players, meaning he could look to partner club and Championship 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds for reinforcements. He may also call up a few experienced heads from the second team, as he juggles his resources ahead of a big weekend for Rugby League in Bristol.

 

Bristol Sonics take on Leicester Storm at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze, on Saturday 8 June, kick-off 2.30pm.

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SONICS SET FOR SHEFFIELD SHOWDOWN

Bristol Sonics’ unbeaten record will face its sternest test of the season on Saturday, when form team Sheffield Hallam Eagles make the long trip Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze.

 

With the Sonics usual home ground Clifton RFC unavailable for the next four weeks due to urgent pitch repairs, Saturday’s crunch game will be played at Landseer Avenue in Lockleaze, home of rugby union National League 2 side Dings Crusaders.

 

The Sonics will be based at Landseer Avenue until the end of June. That means all first and second team games, and under-14 and under-16 coaching sessions, which begin this Sunday (19th May, 10.30am), will take place at Dings’ famous home ground.

 

Saturday’s game is undoubtedly the most important game of the season so far for both sides. The Sonics won a high scoring nail-biter when the two sides clashed on the opening day of the season, but since then the Eagles have swept aside all-comers with ease.

 

The Sonics have yet to taste defeat this season, having won all five of their Conference League South matches. While there have been some comfortable victorties, including last weekend’s 40-6 away win at St Albans, the Sonics have yet to hit top form.

 

With Sheffield Hallam able to call on Academy players from professional side Sheffield Eagles, the 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners, Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley knows his side face a tough task on Saturday.

 

Fearnley said: “If we’re not at the top of our game on Saturday, the Eagles will rip us apart. They’re a fantastic side, and can call on some extremely talented young players, some who have huge futures in professional Rugby League. The key battle will be in the forwards. If we can slow them down and win that battle, we’ll have a great chance of winning. It should be a cracking game.”

 

Fearnley is sweating on the fitness of influential captain Dom Swann, who inspired his team to victory last weekend. The veteran stand-off will have a fitness test before the game. The Sonics will also be without hookers Harry Marson, who impressed last weekend, and Matt Williams, who has chosen to step down to Tier 4 and play with his local side, Gloucestershire Warriors.

 

Sonics second team will be looking to build on their good start to the West of England League season when they travel to Oxford Cavaliers on Saturday.

 

Last weekend the Sonics’ Seconds opened their account with a hard-fought 26-20 win over bitter local rivals Swindon St George.

 

Bristol Sonics face Sheffield Hallam Eagles at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze, on Saturday 18 May, kick-off 2.30pm.

 

 

 

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SONICS SECONDS SWING INTO ACTION

Bristol Sonics’ second team are set to take centre stage this Saturday (11 May), as they open their West of England League campaign against fierce local rivals Swindon St George at Avonmouth Old Boys RFC, Shirehampton (K.O 2.30pm).

 

With the unbeaten first team away at St Albans Centurions (Toulmin Drive, St Albans, 2.30pm), a healthy crowd is expected at Barracks Lane for the Sonics’ second team’s first game of 2013.

 

Bristol Sonics A compete in the West of England League, alongside Gloucestershire Warriors, Cheltenham Old Patesians, Oxford Cavaliers, Somerset Vikings and Saturday’s opponents, Swindon St George.

 

With first team places at a premium following the Sonics’ partnership agreement with the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, Bristol Sonics A can call on plenty of experience as they look to get their 2013 campaign off to the best possible start.

 

Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley will be pulling on his boots again for a rare run out at hooker, while the squad also contains nine players with previous first team experience, and a string of debutants.

 

Fearnley, who for this week has handed over first team coaching duties to former second team player/coach Aran Simm, said: “We’ve been delighted by the number of people who have committed to the second team this year, and the willingness of first team squad members to prove their form and fitness in the seconds. I know all the players are looking forward to showing me what they can do to try and force their way into the first team as the season progresses.”

 

The pack of forwards set to take to the field at Avonmouth on Saturday includes a number of Sonics legends. Tristan Moore, Jack Gibson, Joe Singleton and Josh Sampson are all set to feature, alongside replacements Dave Leach, James Pritchard, ambitious hooker Andy Parsons and returning second-rower Dan Wegryzn.

 

Meanwhile, the Sonics’ first team continue their pursuit of Conference League South points with a trip to St Albans Centurions.

 

The Sonics’ first team have won each of their first four games this season, recording vital wins over Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, Northampton Demons, Leicester Storm and Nottingham Outlaws.

 

The ‘firsts’ are boosted by the return of hooker Harry Marson, utiity player Andre Samura, and second-rower Sam Blaney. Dan Brooker is in line to make his first appearance of the season, joining brother Marcus, who scored his first try for the All Golds against Gateshead last weekend.

 

St Albans have been in poor form in recent weeks, but Sonics’ skipper Dom Swann is expecting a very tough game. He said: “We’re expecting a very tough game from the Centurions on Saturday. They’re a great club who do things the right way, and last season we had two very tight games with them. I’d expect it to be the same this week, especially at their place. If we’re even a little bit off the pace, we’ll get beaten, and we can’t afford to slip up now.”

 

Fans wishing to keep up to date with the first team match can view live text updates on the Sonics’ Twitter account: http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

 

Entrance to Bristol Sonics A v Swindon St George at Avonmouth Old Boys RFC is free. Kick-off on Saturday (11th May) is 2.30pm.

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SONICS ANNOUNCE 2013 JUNIOR PROGRAMME

In the build-up to the arrival of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in Bristol this autumn, Bristol Sonics have announced a full summer programme of junior Rugby League in the city.

The programme features a mix of training sessions and summer camps for under 14s (12-14 years-old) and under 16s (14-16), as well as coaching in four secondary schools around Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The programme, which is being run in association with the University of Gloucestershire All Golds and Clifton RFC, will begin in May and run until September.

The action begins on Sunday 19th May at Clifton RFC in Henbury (10.30am), with a 90-minute taster session for boys aged between 12 and 16 (Under 14s and Under 16s). The sessions, which will be run by fully qualified and CRB-checked coaches, continue weekly until July and will lead to matches against other teams in the region.

Throughout June, Sonics coaches will also conduct weekly sessions in four secondary schools in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, including John Cabot Academy, which will include coaching for Year 8 and Year 9 girls. The schools programme will culminate with a junior Rugby League festival in the first week of July.

For the first time, the Sonics will also be running a series of extended weekday ‘summer camps’ for U14 and U16 boys during the school holidays. The sessions, which take place at Clifton RFC in Henbury, begin on July 17 and continue until September 4.

Any parents or players interested in playing junior Rugby League in Bristol and South Gloucestershire this summer can find more information and contact details for coaches at www.bristolsonics.com

Q&A

Q: What ages can play junior rugby with the Sonics?

A: The Sonics are running Under 14 and Under 16 age groups. Boys can play “one year up” according to RFL rules so U14s covers anyone in school years 8 and 9, and U16’s covers school years 10 and 11. The longer–term aim is to start an U19’s team but at the moment the only option for anyone aged over 16 is to train with the senior squads.

Q: Do I need to register before coming to a training session?

A: No, a brief registration form will need to be filled in but that can be done when you attend your first training session.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The cost is £25 for the season which covers a training t-shirt (will be given out as soon as payment received), training costs and match day costs and insurance.

Q: When will matches be held?

A: Matches will be held on Sunday mornings, typically with an 11:00 kick-off. The match schedule for both age groups is being finalised with teams from Gloucestershire, Somerset and South Wales .

Q: Where are training / matches held?

A: Clifton RFC. Directions here: http://www.bristolsonics.com/the-club/find-us/

Q: How are the Club’s coaches qualified?

A: All of the Club’s coaches are qualified through accredited RFL (Rugby Football League) coaching courses to UKCC Level 2. All coaches are also is First aid qualified, have completed the RFL’s Safeguarding and Protecting Children course and are Criminal Records bureau (CRB) checked.

 

Q: What equipment do I need to play Rugby League?

A: For matches a playing shirt will be provided by the club but players should bring suitable rugby shorts and socks. For training children will be expected to wear their own suitable kit, although will be provided with a training shirt.

Rugby / football boots and gum shields should be brought to training and matches. Players can wear padded tops and scrum caps although this is down to personal choice.

 

Q: Do I need to have played Rugby League before?

A: No, full training will be provided.

 

Q: Who can I contact to find out more information?

A: Email juniors@bristolsonics.com and your enquiry will be directed to the correct person.

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SONICS TRAINING & OFF-FIELD KIT AVAILABLE TO BUY

The new season’s training and off-field kit designs are in and available to order. The first order will be submitted at midday on Wednesday 1st May so email kit@bristolsonics.com before then if you would like to order anything.

Payment is needed on or before Sat 11th May (both teams have games on that day). Cash, cheque, or online transfer will be accepted with full details given in the confirmation email.

Available kit in sizes XS to 5XL: Polo Shirts (£17), Performance T-Shirts (£23), Hoodies (£29), Tracksuit Bottoms (£21).

Sonics Stash 2013a

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SONICS SET FOR SHEFFIELD SHOWDOWN

Bristol Sonics will be looking to make a flying start when they kick off their Conference League South campaign at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium on Saturday.

 

The Sonics, who have not played since tumbling out of the prestigious Challenge Cup competition at the hands of National Conference side Eccles in October, face a tough task against Sheffield Hallam Eagles, a new club set up by Sheffield Hallam University and 2012 Cooperative Championship winners Sheffield Eagles.

 

Both sides will be looking to make a winning start in Conference League South, the Rugby Football League’s new ‘tier 3’ division for leading amateur clubs based outside the club’s traditional Northern ‘heartlands’. The new league replaces Conference League Three, the division that the Sonics competed in last season.

 

On Saturday, both sides could field a number of players with semi-professional experience thanks to new rules that allow ‘dual registration’ of players between Championship, Championship One and Conference League South clubs.

 

The Sonics have taken advantage of this rule by joining forces with Cheltenham-based Championship One side University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Many of the latter’s playing squad have been ‘dual registered’ with the Sonics, allowing them to appear in Conference League South.

 

Sheffield Hallam Eagles are in a similar position thanks to their close ties to former Challenge Cup winners Sheffield Eagles. Many of the latter’s fringe players, a number of which study at Sheffield Hallam University, are in line to feature on Saturday. While most have little or no first team experience, they will provide a stern test for the Sonics.

 

Sonics Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley has announced a strong squad for the trip to the home of Sheffield Eagles and Olympic heptathlon star Jessica Ennis. He’s able to field Sonics’ All Golds signees Marcus Brooker and Mike Norman, and could hand debuts to Max Davies, Liam Walker, Jack Spooner and Darren van Hoof.

 

Fearnley isn’t too worried by his side’s lack of match practice. He said: “While there’s a chance that we’ll be pretty rusty and rough round the edges, the lads have been training really well and the addition of All Golds squad players will strengthen us,” he said. “I don’t expect us to hit top form straight away, but if we can do the basics well and build on the success we enjoyed in the second half of the 2012 season, we should be able to put in a decent performance.”

 

The Sonics struggled in the early part of 2012, and it took them nearly three months to adjust to the intensity of Tier 3 amateur Rugby League.  They finished the season in style, though, winning five of their last six games, including a famous victory over Champions elect – and now Championship One side – Hemel Stags.

 

Sonics captain Dom Swann believes that this experience will stand them in good stead this season: “It was a tough season last year, but by the end we really looked the part and were unlucky not to make the play-offs. We now know what it takes to compete at that level, and hopefully we’ll be on the ball from the word go. We think that Conference League South will be really tight this year, with all six teams being capable of taking points off one another. If we want to do well, we need to hit the ground running.”

 

Their opponents on Saturday, Sheffield Hallam Eagles, will be playing their first match together. However, with the majority of their players coming from the university’s first team and a smattering of future professional stars, they should be as strong a side as the Sonics will face this year.

 

Sheffield Hallam Eagles Head Coach Andrew Henderson – Scotland international and Sheffield Eagles’ first team hooker – is confident that the team can perform well this season. He said: “We see this team as an integral part of Sheffield Eagles’ player performance pathway. Competing in Conference League South will enable our performance players and Sheffield Hallam students to continue their Rugby League education in a closely fought competition. The club has come together very quickly so we’ll have to hit the ground running straight away. If we do that, I’m confident that we can have a tilt at winning the League.”

 

Sonics captain Dom Swann, who begins his 11th season with the club on Saturday, is wary of making similar predictions. “Of course every club in the League privately thinks that they have a chance of winning the title, because on paper all the teams look evenly matched,” he says. “Very few will come out and say ‘yes, we’re going to win this’, because that would be a foolish thing to do. There are six teams in the League, and six teams that could potentially win it – it’s going to be that tight. We’re confident that we’ll do quite well, but only if we play to our potential every week. There will be no ‘easy wins’ this season.”

 

Bristol Sonics face Sheffield Hallam Eagles at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, on Saturday 6th April, kick-off 2.30pm. Entrance is £3 for adults, £2 for OAPS and £1 for under 16s and students (with a valid NUS card).

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SONICS SEEK MATCH DAY VOLUNTEERS

Bristol Sonics are looking for a number of volunteers to help with the smooth running of matchday management during the 2013 Conference League South season, which begins after Easter.

To ensure that our matches at Clifton RFC run smoothly, we’re looking for people willing to lend a hand with stewarding (collecting admission money and directing fans to the clubhouse and pitch), programme selling, administration, collecting match stats, taking photographs and capturing video, and other small tasks such as setting up the pitch and laying out players’ kit before the game.

None of these tasks is particularly arduous, and most can be completed within 30 minutes or less. In return for their help and commitment, volunteers will be given free entry to all our home games and complimentary copies of matchday programmes. There are also a number of other benefits, including discounts on club merchandise and travel to away matches.

Full training will be given, where needed, and volunteers will be supervised at all times. If you’re interested but cannot commit to the whole season, don’t worry – we’d love to have you involved.

The Sonics’ Conference League South season begins on 6th April, with the first home game at Clifton RFC taking place the following Saturday, 13th April.

For more information please email Nick Brook on nhbrook@me.com

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REGISTRATION NIGHT THIS FRIDAY

Bristol Sonics preparation for the 2013 summer season gets underway in earnest this Friday (March 8), with a “Registration Night” for players and fans at Clifton RFC, Henbury (7pm start).

The night has been designed to allow players and fans to find out the club’s plans for the coming season, to sign membership forms and pay their dues for the 2013 season. Incentives, such as money off fees and free club merchandise, are available for those who pay their “subs” on Friday night.

There will be a presentation from the Sonics committee on the club’s aims for the coming season (7.30pm) and a chance to watch the St Helens-Warrington Super League game (8pm) on a big screen. The evening has been designed to cater for returning regulars and newcomers alike.

More details about membership prices and player “subs” can be found here. This season, the club has introduced a “social membership” for non-playing members, which includes entry into all home matches and free coach travel to away games. Meanwhile, playing subs for first team squad members have been capped at £120 (payable via a standing order over six months), or £120 if paid all at once, before the start of the season (for example at Friday’s registration night).

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SONICS SIGN HISTORIC DEAL WITH ALL GOLDS

Bristol Sonics have cemented their position as the South West’s leading community Rugby League club by entering into a partnership with Championship One side University of Gloucestershire All Golds.

After extensive negotiations, the two organizations have signed a partnership agreement that will see them share players, coaching staff and resources. The two clubs will also work together on marketing, merchandising and player development.

As part of the deal, the University of Gloucestershire All Golds’ coaching team will work closely with their Sonics counterparts, sharing ideas and resources for the benefit of both clubs. A number of the Championship One club’s players will also be “dual registered” with the Sonics, allowing them to appear for Bristol during the forthcoming Conference League South season.

The two clubs will also work closely to identify and develop talented young Rugby League players, offering them a platform to progress from the local junior game to the semi-professional ranks via the regional and national amateur leagues.

Bristol Sonics will also display the University of Gloucestershire All Golds’ “golden fern” emblem on the sleeve of their playing shirts this season, and work with the Championship One side on increasing participation in the game at junior, youth and open age level.

Bristol Sonics Director of Rugby, Karl Fearnley, said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce this agreement between the Sonics and the All Golds. This partnership puts in place structures that will allow talented, ambitious Rugby players from the South West a route to semi-professional rugby directly from the community game. Our close ties with the All Golds will make the Sonics an attractive proposition for young players with designs on the Championships or even Super League.”

University of Gloucestershire All Golds’ Head Coach, Brad Hepi, said: “this gives us another pathway of sustainable player development for our professional team and a relationship that will be equally beneficial to both clubs on and off the field”

This year, Bristol Sonics’ first team will compete in the Rugby Football League’s new Conference League South competition for elite community clubs based outside the game’s traditional Northern “heartlands”. The season begins on April 6, when the Sonics face a long trip North to take on Sheffield Hallam Eagles, a new side set up by 2012 Championship winners Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield Hallam University.

The University of Gloucestershire All Golds will begin their Championship One campaign on Good Friday, 29 March, when they host Oxford RLFC at the Prince of Wales Stadium, Cheltenham.

The West of England League, featuring the Sonics’ second team and other community clubs from the region, is due to kick-off in May.

Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said: “I’m delighted that we’ve reached an agreement with the University of Gloucestershire All Golds to work together over the new few years. It’s in our interest to forge close links with the West’s new professional club, not only to give our players the chance to progress their careers, but also to help promote the Greatest Game across the region. I firmly believe this agreement is in the best interest of both clubs.”

University of Gloucestershire All Golds’ Chief Executive, Rob Webber said: “The partnership between the University of Gloucestershire All Golds and Bristol Sonics is a particular interest of mine. As a Bristolian myself I am very keen to see Rugby League develop throughout my home city and with the All Golds and Sonics working together we can ensure that progress continues.”