Bristol Sonics have promised to build on the success of last night’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 game in the city.
Over 7,000 people descended on the Memorial Stadium, home of Bristol Rovers and Bristol Rugby, to watch the USA Tomahawks record a famous 32-20 debut World Cup win over the Cook Islands.
It was the first time top flight Rugby League had been played in Bristol since 1911, when Australia beat the West and Wales 23-3 at Ashton Gate.
Many of the spectators were watching Rugby League for the first time, and the Sonics are keen to build on the interest created to boost the sport at grassroots level in the region.
Sonics Chairman Phil Cole, one of the people who founded the club back in 2002, said: “Last night was a superb occasion and a great spectacle, and for those of us in the region involved in the community game it was a brilliant shot in the arm.
“There were so many newcomers to Rugby League in the crowd, and it’s our job now to try and harness the interest and excitement created by Rugby League World Cup 2013 coming to our city to increase the numbers of players, fans, volunteers and sponsors for the game at grassroots level, not just in Bristol but in the wider region.”
Sonics captain Dom Swann, the sole surviving player from the club’s debut season in 2003, is urging anyone interested in Rugby League to get in touch with the club.
He said: “The Sonics are always on the look out for new players, fans and volunteers, and it would be great to see some of those people who enjoyed last night’s game getting involved in some way.
“Anyone interested in getting involved, in whatever capacity, can contact us through our website at www.bristolsonics.com and we’ll get back to them. We run two adult teams, a number of junior sides and conduct coaching sessions in schools. If you live in the area and want more Rugby League, the Sonics would like to hear from you.”
The Sonics were formed in 2002 by a group of local Rugby League enthusiasts, and in the early years struggled to get a foothold in a city better known for its connections with football and rugby union. Since then, the club has grown steadily and is now one of the leading community clubs outside of the North of England.
Phil Cole said: “When a few of us sat down in the George pub in Filton back in September 2002, we could never have envisaged a Rugby League World Cup game being played in our city. It hasn’t always been easy trying to grow the game in this part of the country, as our friends at Gloucestershire Warriors, Swindon St George and Somerset Vikings would agree, but there is a feeling that slowly and surely Rugby League is growing.
“We want to introduce a whole new generation of young people to our great sport. We already run some junior teams, but if there is interest we’d love to run more. If only a fraction of those who came last night go on to attend more Rugby League matches, get involved as players, or give their precious time as volunteers, it can only be a great thing for the Sonics and the sport as a whole.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in Rugby League in the city can contact the Sonics through the Get Involved section of this website.