Bristol Sonics will begin their ninth summer season on Saturday (May 7), and this time there’s double the reason for fans to get behind the South West’s premier Rugby League club.For the first time since the club’s formation in 2002, the Sonics will field two teams in the Cooperative Rugby League Conference. The club’s successful first team, who last year narrowly missed out on winning the RLC Midlands Premier title after a golden-point extra time loss to Coventry Bears, will once again compete in the Midlands. The club’s new second team will compete in the brand new West Of England RLC Regional division, lining up alongside old foes Gloucestershire Warriors, Swindon St George, Oxford Cavaliers and Wiltshire Wyverns.This Saturday, both teams begin their quest for silverware with a pair of potentially tricky ties. The Sonics first team travel to Birmingham Bulldogs aiming for a rare win over the physical Brummies, while Sonics’ seconds host local rivals Swindon St George at Aretians RFC, Little Stoke (K.O 2.30pm) for the first time in three seasons.Bristol Sonics’ Director of Rugby, Karl Fearnley, said: “This weekend is the start of a huge summer season for the Sonics. After a sustained period of development we can finally field two open age teams week in, week out. This gives an opportunity for even more players to try their hand at Rugby League, develop their skills and get on the hunt for more silverware for the club.”I’ve been delighted by the numbers at training and the amount of players who have put their hand up for selection. Both our games this weekend will be tricky, but we’re going in aiming to get two wins. We want to get a great start to what could be a memorable season.”The Sonics’ first team will once again be skippered by player-coach Dom Swann, who is now the only Bristol player to have competed in every season since 2003. The influential half-back, who also holds all of the Sonics’ scoring records, said:”The club has been moving forward so fast in the off-season, and there’s a real buzz around the team at present. We were so close to winning the Midlands Premier title last season – it was a biter pill to swallow losing in the final like that. This season we’re aiming to go one better, and with the squad depth we have now, there’s every chance we can do it.”Bristol Sonics’ Second Team captain Mike Ashford, who spent most of last season on the sidelines after breaking his ankle in an early game, is looking forward to finally pulling on a shirt again: “It’s really exciting that the second team have got a league to compete in this season. Last year we only played a couple of friendlies, and it was hard to get players committed to the cause. This season we’ve got a decent sized squad, which is a mix of experience and newcomers. I’m excited that we’ll be doing battle with all our local rivals – it should make for an exciting season!”Fans wishing to take in some of the action this year can find a full list of Bristol Sonics’ home fixtures, for both the first and second team, on Entrance to all home matches at Aretians RFC is always free.

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