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SONICS TO MAKE LANDSEER AVENUE HOME

Bristol Sonics have agreed a deal with Dings Crusaders RFC which will see the latter’s Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze become the home of Rugby League in the city for the foreseeable future.

 

All open age and junior training sessions and matches will be held at the ground, starting immediately. Training sessions for the club’s two open age teams will take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights (6.45pm for a 7pm start), beginning today, 22nd April.

 

In addition, the Sonics will work with Dings Crusaders to make Landseer Avenue the focal point of Rugby League in Bristol. This will include hosting regular social events at the ground, increasing branding and working to raise awareness of the sport in the city and the important role the ground plays in the Sonics’ activities.

 

Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said he was delighted that agreement had been reached to make Landseer Avenue the Sonics’ home base. He said: “We’re thrilled that a deal has been agreed that will see the Sonics calling Landseer Avenue home for the foreseeable future. We have nothing but admiration for Steve Lloyd and all at Dings Crusaders for the way in which they’ve made the Sonics welcome on the previous times we’ve used the ground. We’re positive that securing a lengthy deal to make Landseer Avenue our base will help us push Rugby League forward in the city, following the massive boost given to the game following Bristol’s successful hosting of a 2013 Rugby League World Cup fixture last October.”

 

Bristol Sonics’ Club Captain, Dom Swann, said: “The players enjoyed the experience of playing at Landseer Avenue last season. The place feels like home and we’re positive that we can make it a “fortress”. The ground is easily accessible and has great facilities, so hopefully we can use this to build interest and get more fans supporting us on match days. We’re looking forward to kicking off the season this weekend at our new permanent home.”

 

Bristol Sonics’ first team begin their 2014 Conference League South campaign this Saturday at Landseer Avenue, with a difficult game against 2013 champions and 2014 title favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

Junior Rugby League will return to Landseer Avenue from Sunday May 11th, with regular training sessions and matches at both Under 14 and Under 16 level. More details will be announced in due course.

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COACH KEEN TO WELCOME NEW PLAYERS

Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Jason Talbot has confirmed that the club is looking for new players for the 2014 Rugby League season, which begins in April.

The Sonics begin pre-season training on Wednesday 26th February, and Talbot is keen to welcome new faces.

Training sessions will take place weekly on Wednesday nights (7-8:30pm) at Dings Crusaders RFC in Lockleaze. Talbot is keen to stress that places in both the first and second team squads are always up for grabs.

I want to make it clear that all of our sides are picked on merit,” the Dewsbury-born coach said. “If you commit to coming down to training and want to play Rugby League, regardless of whether you’ve played the sport before, you’ll be considered for selection and will almost certainly get a game. There’s a difference in standard between the first and second teams, but many of our first team regulars started out in the second team and progressed to the firsts. If you’re good enough and willing to learn, we’d love to have you on board.”

The Sonics run two open-age adult teams. The club’s first team plays in the elite Conference League South competition, while the seconds play in the more social West of Englnad League.

We’re looking for players of all abilities,” Talbot said. “If you take your rugby seriously and want to progress, we can offer a high standard with our first team. We have players who come from good quality amateur and semi-professional rugby union clubs, players brought up on League, students and keen youngsters. Some of our other players hadn’t played much rugby of either code at all until they came to us, but have worked hard and are now first team regulars. If that standard’s too high for you but you want to give it a go, our second team players and coaches will make you very welcome.

Whatever your motivation, we’d love to see you at training.”

Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, who has been with the club since its first season in 2003, echoed Talbot’s sentiments. He said: “Rugby League is a terrific sport to play – it’s all action, with big hits, but the basics are easy to learn. Many of us started playing union, so if you’ve played that code you should be able to pick up League pretty easily. If you haven’t, you can still make the grade. If you’ve ever watched Super League on Sky or the Challenge Cup on the BBC and thought ‘I’d like to give that a go’, I’d encourage you to come down to training and see for yourself.”

Bristol Sonics will be training weekly on Wednesday nights at Dings Crusaders RFC, Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, Bristol, BS7 9YS (see map below) from 26th February. Sessions, which last an hour and a half, begin at 7pm.

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PRE-SEASON TRAINING DETAILS ANNOUNCED

Bristol Sonics will begin pre-season training on Monday 13th January, ahead of their involvement in the first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup in February.

 

Players old and new are invited to head down to Old Elizabethans RFC, Severn Road, Hallen, BS10 7RZ on Monday and Wednesday nights (6.45pm meet for a 7pm start).

 

With the Challenge Cup beginning on February 1st, the Sonics have just six sessions to get into shape before taking on National Conference League heavyweights Hull Dockers.

 

Sonics captain Dom Swann is encouraging all players, whether regulars from previous seasons or keen newcomers, to head down to training. He said: “It’s vital that as many players as possible get to training on Monday and Wednesday nights over the next few weeks. We want to get the season off to the best possible start in Hull, but to do that we need to train hard and make sure that we’re ready for what will be a bruising encounter.”

 

Following the Challenge Cup game, training will move to the Sonics permanent base for 2014, details of which are due to be announced in the next few weeks.

 

The dates of pre-season training at Old Elizabethans, Hallen, are as follows:

 

Monday 13th January
Wednesday 15th January

Monday 20th January
Wednesday 22nd January
Monday 27th January
Wednesday 29th January

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SONICS AWAIT CHALLENGE CUP FATE

Bristol Sonics will discover their opponents in the first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup on Wednesday (January 8th), when the draw takes place live on BBC Radio Humberside (6.30pm).

The Sonics are one of 44 teams from around the UK starting out on the road to the August’s prestigious final at Wembley Stadium, one of the traditional highlights of the British sporting calendar.

Bristol is representing Conference League South, following the decision from champions Sheffield-Hallam Eagles not to take part in the competition. It will be the third time the Sonics have featured in the competition, following agonizing first round losses to Leeds Metropolitan University and Eccles in previous seasons.

The Sonics could face a nightmare away trip to Scottish Conference champions Aberdeen, a local derby against Welsh premiers Torfaen Tigers – a team the Sonics once lost to by 80 points a decade ago – or face one of a host of National Conference League sides from the game’s traditional “heartlands” of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Humberside and Cumbria. Alternatively, Bristol could be drawn against one of the forces teams, the British Police or one of the two universities representing Student Rugby League.

Fans can find out the Sonics’ fate by tuning into BBC Radio Humberside online – www.bbc.co.uk/radiohumberside – from 6.30pm on Wednesday 8th January.

The first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup will be played on the weekend of February 1st and 2nd.

Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, who has played in both of the club’s previous Tetley’s Challenge Cup matches, is looking forward to the draw. He said: “The Tetley’s Challenge Cup is the most historic competition in Rugby League, and there’s always something exciting about setting out on the Road to Wembley. We know that we’re not going to get that far, but it would be brilliant to get our first ever win in the competition and progress to the second or even third round, which would be an amazing achievement given the quality of the sides in the draw.

“We’ve been very lucky in the past in receiving home draws, which always works to our advantage. It’s also allowed us to draw big crowds, as the Tetley’s Challenge Cup is a big deal – the later rounds are shown live on the BBC on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the final is one of the highlights of the British sporting calendar. It’s a big deal for amateur players like us, just like non-league footballers playing in the F.A Cup.”

In preparation for their participation in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, Bristol Sonics’ open age players will return to training for the first time since September this month. The club is on the look out for new players for both first and second teams, and is encouraging anyone interested to get in touch via the club’s website at www.bristolsonics.com. Details of pre-season training sessions will be announced shortly.

 

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WORLD CUP MATCH CAPS RUGBY LEAGUE’S RISE IN BRISTOL

Tonight, top flight Rugby League returns to Bristol for the first time since 1911, when the touring Australians beat Wales and West 23-3 at Ashton Gate. Just 1,000 confused locals turned up to watch.

Just before 8pm, the Cook Islands and the United States of America will walk out onto the Memoral Stadium turf for a vital Rugby League World Cup 2013 encounter.

A crowd in excess of 5,000 will roar them on, while a “guard of honour” made up of local Rugby League players and volunteers will greet the players as they make their entrance.

That guard of honour will feature five representatives from Bristol Sonics, the city’s community club. Four of those are the “Brooker brothers”, the region’s answer to the Burgess brothers. All four – eldest brother Marcus, local community coach Daniel, 18 year-old Dean and 16 year-old Harry – have all played for the Sonics. The fifth representative will be Tristan Moore, recently retired second team captain and one of the club’s junior coaches.

In the stands watching on will be a large group of players, volunteers and fans from Bristol’s community club, who no doubt will be rubbing their eyes in amazement.

You see, it was just 11 years ago when a small group of people got together in a pub in Filton to discuss the idea of starting a Rugby League team in Bristol.

It’s a remarkable story in anyone’s book.

Before the Sonics, there had been very little Rugby League in Bristol. During the 1980s and early ‘90s, there was an amateur club playing in the now defunct Midlands and South West Amateur Rugby League Association (MASWARLA). With the 100-year war between rugby union and Rugby League still ongoing, the club struggled to attract and retain players, with most regular players appearing under pseudonyms in order to avoid a lifetime ban from playing union.

Then, in 2002, an official from the Rugby Football League contacted Phil Cole, a local League enthusiast and Union convert, to ask whether he fancied trying to launch a club in Bristol.

Cole did just that, posting messages on Internet forums asking anyone interested to come to a meeting at a pub in Filton. A handful of people turned up, but it was enough. Further meetings followed, and a few more volunteers appeared. By the end of September 2011, Bristol Sonics were born.

The Sonics story since has been one of struggle and success. The early years, in particular, were hard, as the club struggled to attract and retain players and moved ground on an almost yearly basis. During their first season in 2003, the Sonics won just two games, suffering the bitter disappointment of losing to Cardiff Demons by 70, 90 and 100 points.

What a contrast to where Rugby League in Bristol, and the South West at large, now finds itself.

Alongside Cheltenham-based Championship One side University of Gloucestershire All Golds, the Sonics have been integral in getting Rugby League into schools in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. The Sonics have junior teams at under 14 and under 16 level, which feeds into the Bristol Rugby League Academy side based at South Gloucestershire & Stroud College, based at the WISE Campus in Filton.

At adult, or “open age”, level, the Sonics boast two sides. The second team plays in the West of England League, alongside local amateur clubs including Swindon St George, Gloucestershire Warriors and Somerset Vikings. The first team, meanwhile, plays in Conference League South, a “tier 3” league featuring the strongest amateur sides outside of the North of England. This summer, the Sonics came second in that League, behind eventual winners Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, effectively Championship winners Sheffield Eagles’ second team.

Rugby League is still a small sport in Bristol, but it is growing. Year-on-year over the last decade, more players, fans and volunteers have got involved, either through the Sonics, schools coaching or at one of the local universities and colleges. League is, slowly but surely, making its presence felt.

Tonight, Rugby League in Bristol will get a shot in the arm like nothing that’s come before. So far, the Rugby League World Cup 2013 has been a runaway success, with classic matches, memorable moments and star players doing extraordinary things. The impact has been such that sales for tonight’s game in Bristol have rocketed since the weekend, with almost unexpected demand.

The vast majority of tonight’s crowd will be watching Rugby League for the first time. Despite the hard work of the Sonics in marketing themselves, many will not know that there is a community club on their doorstep. When they find out, we can expect interest to grow massively.

Occasions such as this don’t come around too often. In fact, it’s been over 100 years between drinks for Bristol and top-flight Rugby League. We might not see anything like it for years to come. As the Rugby League World Cup 2013 hastag says, you have to #BeThere.

It will be memorable in so many ways, and particularly poignant for those who endured the Sonics’ early years of toil, where the club struggled to stay afloat, once had to field a team containing only five players with any kind of previous rugby experience and teetered on the brink of collapse.

It may be a cliché, but dreams really do come true.

The Cook Islands take on the U.S.A at The Memorial Stadium, Bristol, tonight (Wednesday 30th October) in Rugby League World Cup 2013. Tickets start from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Some tickets will be available at the ground. For more information on Rugby League World Cup 2013, head to www.rlwc2013.com.

 

 

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NEW-LOOK SONICS SET FOR CENTS TEST

Conference League South leaders Bristol Sonics return to action this Saturday, when they take on St Albans Centurions in the first of three consecutive home games.

 

The Sonics have traditionally enjoyed a strong record at home, and have lost just once in Bristol this season – a 36-30 reverse to fellow title-chasers Sheffield-Hallam Eagles. With the Eagles boasting a game in hand and due to visit Bristol next weekend, the Sonics will be looking to make the most of tomorrow’s game with strugglers St Albans at Landseer Avenue, home of Dings Crusaders RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

Bristol will have to do without skipper, goal-kicker and main playmaker Dom Swann, who is currently away on his honeymoon. It will be the first time this season that the Sonics have played without the inspirational Swann, who will also miss next week’s rematch with Sheffield.

 

With other regular playmakers also missing, South African Johan Schoeman returns to scrum half, with second team graduate Alex Potts likely to deputize for Swann at stand-off. Gloucestershire All Golds’ Rory Sharratt, a regular for the Sonics this season, looks set to continue at hooker.

 

Second team player/coach Aran Simm will be coaching the first team in the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley. Simm expects a tough game against a St Albans side who have won only once this year.

 

Simm said: “Despite their results, St Albans are a decent side and I’d expect them to give us a very tough game. If we’re just a little bit off our game they’ll punish us. When we last met in St Albans we won comfortably, but with players missing and new halfbacks it may take us some time to gel. We’ll only win if we play well, so we need to be on our game right from the first whistle.”

 

To encourage more spectators to come down and show their support for summer Rugby League, the Sonics are offering free entry to the game on Saturday.

 

Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole said: “With the Rugby League World Cup coming to Bristol later in the year, there’s no better time to check out some live Rugby League. By making entrance free, we hope that many new fans will take the opportunity to check out the sport for themselves. I started out as a rugby union supporter in my youth, but was converted by the speed, excitement and intensity of Rugby League.  If you’ve not been to a live match, it’s worth checking out Saturday’s game for free.”

 

Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ travel to West of England League form side Gloucestershire Warriors (Old Centralians RFC, Gloucester, K.O 2.30pm) on Saturday, buoyed by an impressive win over Oxford Cavaliers last weekend.

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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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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 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).