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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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SONICS ANNOUNCE PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE

Bristol Sonics have announced their pre-season training schedule ahead of the summer 2013 Rugby League season.

Twice weekly training sessions will begin on Monday 25th February and continue through to the start of the Conference League South season on April 6.

All prospective players, whether regulars from previous seasons or newcomers who fancy giving Rugby League a go, are urged to attend training sessions as soon as possible.

Pre-season training begins on Monday 25 February, with team ‘fitness’ sessions hosted by acclaimed strength and conditioning coach Mark Hammond. His ‘Bodyblitz’ sessions take place on Monday nights at Winterbourne Academy, 7.45-9pm.

Squad sessions, including skills work and team moves, begin on Thursday 28th February at Clifton RFC, Henbury (near Cribbs Causeway), 6.45pm for a 7.00pm start.

Both fitness and ‘squad’ sessions will run every week until the start of the season. Squad sessions will take place twice weekly during the season at Clifton RFC. More details will be posted soon.

Ahead of the start of the season, Bristol Sonics will also be hosting a player and volunteer registration night on Friday, March 8 (venue TBA). This will offer a chance for club members, fans and players to come together, watch a televised Super League game (Warrington versus St Helens) and discuss the season ahead. Players can pay their membership fees on the night. We have a number of incentives for early payment.

All our welcome, whether new to Rugby League, a regular Sonics fan or an interested player who wants to give the 13-a-side code a go.

The Sonics have also announced their one and only pre-season friendly. They will play the University of the West of England on Sunday, March 24 (venue TBC).

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SONICS SET SIGHTS ON CHALLENGE CUP UPSET

One of British sport’s most historic competitions returns to the South West this Saturday, as Bristol Sonics set out on “the road to Wembley” in the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

The Sonics, the South West’s premier Rugby League club, face experienced National Conference League 1 side Eccles at Clifton RFC on Saturday (K.O 2pm), with a place in the second qualifying round – and a juicy tie against Cumbrian heavyweights Askom or Millom – at stake.

The match marks the start of the year-long countdown to the Rugby League World Cup coming to Bristol. The Cook Islands will take on the USA at the Memorial Stadium at the end of October 2013, in the early stages of the first World tournament to take place in the UK since London 2012.
Bristol, who play two divisions below Eccles in National Conference League 3, will have to be at the top of their game to even get close to the Manchester-based side, who are renowned as one of the toughest teams in amateur Rugby League.
But Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann believes the Sonics can cause an upset. He said: “Eccles will be the best side we’ve ever faced, and they’re arguably miles ahead of us at the moment. That said, our record against sides from Rugby League’s nothern ‘heartlands’ is improving every year. Our form in the latter half of the National Conference League 3 season was excellent, so I’m sure we can give them a very good game at the very least. If we did win, it would be our best result to date by some distance.”
The Sonics have appeared in the Challenge Cup once before, losing to Leeds Met Carnegie in the first round back in 2009 (pictured). In front of a record crowd for a Rugby League fixture in Bristol, the Sonics sensationally took the lead before wilting under sustained pressure in the second period. Despite losing heavily, it was one of the most memorable days in the club’s history.
Bristol’s second appearance in the competition comes just over a month after the club celebrated its tenth birthday. Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said: “The Challenge Cup is the competition that most people outside of Rugby League remember. The final takes place every year at Wembley and over the years has become one of the essential days out in the British sporting calendar. To have the Sonics take part in such a historic competition is brilliant for Rugby League in the South West, and of course for the club itself. I would urge anyone with a few hours to spare on Saturday afternoon to come down and cheer on the club – the lads will need all the support they can get.”

With the Sonics out of season, Head Coach Karl Fearnley will be without a number of first team regulars. However, he can call upon the cream of the South West’s student Rugby League players, many of whom turned out for the Sonics in the summer, and a number of returning ‘old faces’. He said: “We’re working hard to get out the most competitive side we can this weekend. The players see it as a unique opportunity to create a bit of history. We don’t get a chance to play good quality teams from up north very often, and this will be a chance to see how far we’ve come in recent years. We’ll have to be at the top of our game to get close, but our wins over Hemel and Bramley in the recent summer season shows that when we get it right, we’re a match for anyone.”

Bristol Sonics face Eccles in the First Qualifying Round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup at Clifton RFC, Cribbs Causeway, on Saturday 27th October 2012, kick off 2.00pm
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SONICS AIM FOR CELEBRATORY SEND-OFF

Bristol Sonics are aiming to kick-start the club’s 10th anniversary celebrations with a win over St Albans Centurions at Clifton RFC on Saturday (KO 2.30pm).September marks 10 years since the foundation of the Sonics at Horts pub in Bristol city centre, and long-serving captain Dom Swann wants his side to mark this important anniversary with a win in their final Conference League 3 match of the season.He said: “It would be fitting to start the club’s celebrations of our first decade with a win to end our first season in Rugby League’s national leagues. This season has in many ways reflected our journey over the last decade. We started poorly, lost a lot of games heavily, but have improved considerably. We’ve now won four out of the last five games and have been in terrific form, beating some of the top teams in the league and running others really close. It would be fitting to sign off with a win over St Albans.”

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FEARNLEY PREDICTS SONICS IMPROVEMENT

Bristol Sonics head coach Karl Fearnley has attempted to rally his troops ahead of Saturday’s Conference League 3 trip to Nottingham Outlaws.The Sonics sit bottom of Conference League 3 with just a single bonus point to their name, after six matches of their debut Conference League 3 season. Having narrowly lost to South Wales three weeks ago and put in a decent first half display against high-fliers Coventry Bears last Saturday, Fearnley is convinced that elusive first win of the season is just around the corner.Fearnley said: “It’s been very tough for us so far this season, but we expected that when we stepped up into the national leagues. It takes a while to adapt to the physical and mental demands of a higher intensity of rugby. Although we’ve had some serious beatings, there are things we are doing every week. The way we played against Kippax, South Wales and at times against Coventry shows that we can compete in this division. If we keep improving a little every week, wins will come.”Fearnley is expecting a tough game when his side takes in Nottingham Outlaws on Saturday on their home patch. He said: “The Outlaws are a very progressive club and one with vast experience at Conference League 3 and Rugby League Conference National level. They’ve had some mixed results this season, but they tend to score a lot of points. Last week they were beaten 42-32 in a thriller by South Wales, so they’ll be pumped up for Saturday’s game. I know our lads are determined to put things right after their awful second half against Coventry, so it could be a very good game. It will certainly be a hard game.”Saturday’s encounter will be the first between the sides. Fearnley is still without hooker Harry Marson after six weeks out through injury, but there could is be a recall for centre Dom Pullen. Scrum half Lewis Beer is expected to be fit after being forced off last week with concussion, while Wes Rodgers could switch from loose forward to prop to make way for Joe McKenna.Bristol Sonics face Nottingham Outlaws at Harvey Hadden on Saturday, June 9, kick-off 3.30pm. Supporters who wish to travel on the team coach are advised to contact the club via http://www.bristolsonics.com. Match updates will be available via http://www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

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BRISTOL BACK INTO BATTLE AGAINST BEARS

Bristol Sonics return to Conference League 3 action on Saturday (July 14) with a tricky trip to Butts Park Arena, home of high-flying Coventry Bears.It will be the Sonics first outing in a fortnight, after last week’s game at Kippax Knights was postponed due to heavy rain in West Yorkshire.Bristol, who remain winless in their debut Conference League 3 season, have shown signs of definite improvement in recent weeks and will be keen to step it up against championship-chasing Coventry.The Sonics provided 2011 winners Huddersfield Underbank-Rangers with a tough test a fortnight ago at Aretians, and Head Coach Karl Fearnley is keen for his charges to build on this improved form.Fearnley said: “Over the last month we’ve been getting better week by week, with very few bad performances. Although we lost against Huddersfield, we were more than a match for them for long spells. That’s been the story of our season. This week, I’m looking for a proper 80 minute performance. If we can do that, Coventry will have to be at their best to get the result they’re looking for.”When the sides met in Bristol last month, the contest was close until half time. In the second period, Bristol imploded, allowing Coventry to stroll to a comfortable victory. Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann is determined that won’t happen again.Swann said: “Against Coventry we were excellent in the first half, but for some reason we just couldn’t keep it up. On Saturday we won’t allow that to happen again. We’re going to be committed for the full 80 minutes. We struggled a bit out wide against them last time out, but we’ve been working on that in training. We’ll be ready.”Bristol have tasted victory over Coventry in the past, but have not beaten the Championship One-chasing side, a team keen on turning professional, in their last three outings. To change that record, the Sonics will need to be at their very best.Fans wanting to travel to Coventry can do so on the team coach, which leaves Clifton RFC at 10,30am. A small charge will be made to help cover travel costs. Fans who can’t get to the match will be able to follow score updates on http://www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

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UNDERBANK TO TEST SONICS CREDENTIALS

Bristol Sonics’ difficult Conference League 3 season could get even tougher on Saturday (30 June), when Rugby League Conference National champions Huddersfield-Underbank Rangers visit Aretians (2.30pm kick-off, free entry). Fans will also get a chance to see the results of the Sonics’ junior development as the Under 16’s take on Neath Port Talbot Steelers in a curtain-raiser game, kick-off 1pm. The Sonics have yet to win a game this season after moving up to the national leagues, and face a gigantic task to get anything out of their game against the Conference League 3 title favourites.Bristol were given a rude awakening to the demands of Conference League 3 when they faced the Holmfirth-based side back in May, losing 62-0 to the team many believe are odds-on to win the competition.Although the Sonics have improved considerably since then, losing a number of close matches, they face an uphill struggle to even get a bonus point against the Yorkshire side, one of the oldest amateur Rugby League clubs in the world.Sonics captain Dom Swann understands the task awaiting his side on Saturday: “To even get close, we’ll have to put in the best defensive performance the club has ever produced. When we played them at their place they made mincemeat of us. They have so much experience playing at this level and can reproduce a high level of performance every week. They’re very organized, strong in attack and concede very few points. If we don’t tackle hard and keep our line tight, we’ll get hammered. It’s a tough ask.”But Swann also thinks there is grounds for optimism. “When we played them at their place we weren’t at our strongest in terms of personnel, and we were just getting used to the League. Now we’ve had nine games and we’re used to the physical demands of the league. We’re getting better every week. We’ve not yet put in the sort of performance we can be happy with. If we get close to that on Saturday we’ll cause them problems. If we do that, and they have an off day, who knows what might happen.”While the Sonics’ first team take on Huddersfield-Underbank, Bristol Sonics A – the club’s second team – will be trying to enhance their title credentials at Oxford Cavaliers. The Sonics’ seconds sit second in the table, tied on points with leaders Somerset Vikings but with an inferior goal difference. A win against the dangerous Cavaliers could put the Sonics clear at the top of the West of England Division with two games remaining.Bristol beat Oxford when the two sides last met, but it was a close run thing. The Sonics will have to be at their best to win on Saturday.Bristol Sonics A player/coach Aran Simm said: “We’re expecting a very difficult game against Oxford on Saturday. They’ve generally been very strong at home and a lot weaker away. Since we’re playing them at their place, we could be in for a very tough afternoon. We’re definitely good enough to win well, and all the lads are really up for the game. We really want to win this league.”

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RETURNING PLAYERS BOOST SONICS

Bristol Sonics coach Karl Fearnley has been boosted by the return of two student internationals for Satiurday’s trip to fellow Conference League 3 newcomers St Albans Centurians (K.O 2.30pm).Hard-running prop forward Nathan Rainer is fit to return after starring in Wales Students’ Academic 4 Nations Final victory over England last week, while centre Marcus Brooker, who grabbed a hatful of tries for England Students in the same competition, is fit and raring to go after only featuring briefly for the Sonics last weekend.Fearnley has been frustrated in recent weeks by having a number of players missing through injury, illness and international competition, but can now pick from an almost full first team squad for the first time this year.Fearnley said: “It’s great to be able to have selection issues. The lads have training incredibly well this week and are all focused on getting that first Conference League 3 victory of the season. St Albans are a great side, who have generally picked up better results than us. They’ve also missed out in a few tight games. I know for a fact that their coach identified the matches against us as “must win” ones. That means the pressure’s on them. I just want to see an improved performance for 80 minutes. We’ve been getting better, but we’re not there yet.”Last weekend the Sonics came close to recording a first victory of the season, but a mixture of poor set completion and indiscipline once again cost them, as Bramley Buffaloes scored three times in the last 20 minutes to win 20-4.Fearnley said: “It was incredibly frustrating to watch, if I’m honest. At half time we looked the better side and the more likely to win. The second half we were poor. We only completed 3 sets of six out of the 11 or 12 we had in that 40 minutes. We have away too much ball and too many penalties. We can’t afford to keep doing that if we want to win matches at this level.”Fearnley said: “It’s been very tough for us so far this season, but we expected that when we stepped up into the national leagues. It takes a while to adapt to the physical and mental demands of a higher intensity of rugby. Although we’ve had some serious beatings, there are things we are doing every week. The way we played against Kippax, South Wales and at times against Coventry shows that we can compete in this division. If we keep improving a little every week, wins will come.”While the Sonics’ firsts search for that elusive first victory, the second team are keen on getting back to winning ways after narrowly losing to local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors A last Saturday. Bristol Sonics A welcome bitter rivals Swindon St George to Aretians (kick-off 2.30pm, free entry) on Saturday, and nothing less than a win would do.

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PRESEASON TRAINING UNDERWAY

The Sonics’ pre-season preparations for 2012 are underway with 2 weekly sessions being held at Filton College ‘s WISE Campus on Thursdays and Sundays. Thursday’s offering is a gym session at 19:30-21:00 followed by an hour of skills and games on the state-of-the-art 40m x 60m indoor 3G artificial pitch. On Sunday’s the indoor 3G is booked between 14:00-16:00 for speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) training, skills work and small-sided games. Head-coach Karl Fearnley is urging existing and new players to take advantage of the sessions: ‘2012 is a big year for the club with the 1st team set to compete at their highest level yet. So we’ve kicked off our pre-season as early as possible to ensure we get maximum value out of the fantastic facilitates we’ve got on offer at Filton College .”The gym is very well equipped and players can take part in an organised conditioning circuit or do their own training. But the sessions on the indoor 3G are more important where we will be focusing on skill development through the use of games wherever possible and laying the foundations for how we want to play this season.’ ‘I appreciate that several members of our squads have commitments to union or other sports over the winter but I’d still encourage them to get involved whenever they can. We’ll need to pick an initial first team squad before the start of the season so the earlier people can get involved the better. I’d also like to invite any potential new players to come along and join the sessions.’Players should meet at 19:30 Thursdays at the gym (go down corridor between reception and the ‘Goals’ bar, take first left down corridor then up stairs on left to 1st floor – at top of stairs turn left and head to the end of the corridor) or 21:00 Thursday / 14:00 Sunday at the indoor 3G (down corridor between reception and the ‘Goals’ bar through door at far end).Full details of the Sonics’ 2012 league line-ups for both the 1st and 2nd teams will be released shortly.