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SONICS STEP UP TO CONFERENCE LEAGUE 3

Bristol Sonics will test themselves against some of the best amateur Rugby League teams in the UK this summer after being granted one of just 10 places in Conference League 3.The Sonics applied to join the prestigious ‘Tier 3′ competition after winning the Midlands Premier division of the regional Rugby League Conference in 2011, and were given the nod by the Rugby Football League after a rigorous application process.Bristol’s elevation to Conference League 3 – a competition featuring some of the strongest community clubs in the UK – makes them the first club from the South West of England to compete at the top level of the amateur game.The Sonics take their place in Conference League 3 alongside a mix of top clubs from all four corners of the UK. Bristol line-up alongside Northern giants Kippax Knights, Warrington Wizards, Huddersfield Underbank and Bramley Buffaloes, as well as Midlands giants Nottingham Outlaws and Coventry Bears, plus South East stalwarts Hemel Stags and St Albans Centurians. The Sonics nearest rivals will be Valley Cougars, the only Conference League 3 side from South Wales.As the only Conference League 3 club never to have previous experience of playing at such a high level, Bristol face an uphill task to compete with their illustrious opponents.Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Karl Fearnley said: ‘We are under no illusions as to how tough this season will be, but we’re all excited to be taking the step up to amateur Rugby League’s top table.’All our first team players are dedicated to putting in the extra work required to step up to this level, and we’ve set achievable goals. We’re expecting a tough time to begin with, but that’s all part of the challenge.’Fearnley added: ‘We are looking to make additions to our first team squad for the 2012 Conference League season and will soon be hosting an open trial for interested rugby players of either code. Full details of the trial will be released very soon.’Sonics first team skipper Dom Swann will lead the side for a ninth consecutive season this summer. He said: ‘Having been with the side since the very start, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. Six years ago we could barely raise a side most weeks – now we’re about to compete in an elite amateur competition. It’s a really exciting proposition.’Bristol Sonics’ move to the top table of British amateur Rugby League comes on the eve of the club’s 10th anniversary. Less than a decade after being formed in the King George pub in Filton, the Sonics are within touching distance of the sport’s semi-professional divisions.Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole, one of the club’s founder members, said: ‘We’re delighted to take the next step in the evolution of the Sonics by entering Conference League 3. We’re now within touching distance of our tenth anniversary and it’s hard to believe the progress we’ve made. This season will be our most ambitious and challenging to date. Everyone at the club can’t wait.’Alongside competing in Conference League 3, Bristol Sonics will also run a second team in the West Of England League, one of two divisions in the recently formed South West Rugby League competition. In addition, the club will continue to run a number of under 14 and under 16 youth teams across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

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