Bristol Sonics’ first team will face their toughest test yet when Conference League South 2015 kicks off on March 21st.
The Sonics, who have spent the winter rebuilding following on-field struggles in 2014, will have to get the better of more teams than ever before if they are to succeed in 2015.
Conference League South has been expanded from six teams to ten, with Coventry Bears ‘A’, Torfaen Tigers, Llanelli-based The Raiders RLFC and Bristol’s oldest on-field rivals, Gloucestershire Warriors, joining the competition. The latter have been promoted following a partnership agreement with Championship 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds, who will provide players and coaching staff,
While all of the new clubs will provide a stern test for the West of England’s biggest community club, it’s the chance to renew first team rivalries with Gloucestershire Warriors that’s arguably the most exciting development. Bristol Sonics’ longest serving player, stand-off Dom Swann, is certainly looking forward to facing the Warriors again.
Swann said: “It was the games against the Warriors that the first team always used to look forward to most, so it’s good to have them back at our level again. They’ve struggled recently, but with the addition of lots of players from the All Golds and the University they should be very strong. We’ll have to be at our best to beat them, that’s for sure.
“From a player’s perspective, having ten teams in the league this season is much better. It’s exciting to go face different clubs, such as the two new Welsh teams. There are four teams with very strong links to professional clubs in the league this season, too, which means the standard will be very high. It’s going to be a tough ask for us to challenge for honours, but we feel like we’re in a better place than we were this time last year.”
The Sonics will begin their Conference League South campaign with a home fixture against Nottingham Outlaws at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground on March 21. The following Saturday they travel to Oxford Cavaliers, before returning home to host 2014 Conference League South Champions Valley Cougars on April 11th.
The Sonics are set to announce a new coaching team and pre-season training dates next week, following the departure of Head Coach Jason Talbot, who is relocating to Milton Keynes.
The club is also about to embark on their biggest recruitment drive to date, in order to attract both new players and volunteers.
Swann, who stepped down as first team captain in December following a decade in the role, said: “We’ve got a great group of players, but we’re always looking for new faces to add to both first and second team squads. Rugby League is a terrific sport to play – exciting, fast, tough and all-action. The vast majority of our squad started out as Rugby Union players, and many still play at a good standard in the winter. You don’t need previous experience of Rugby League to give it a go, just a willingness to get stuck in.”
Any players interested in finding out more, or trying Rugby League in Bristol, should contact Wes Rodgers on 07730 600 721, or email firstname.lastname@example.org