Bristol Sonics have appointed a new coaching and management team to drive the club forward in 2014.
Following the decision of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley to step back from coaching, former assistant Jason Talbot has been appointed head coach with immediate effect.
Talbot has been overseeing first team training since early January, and faces his first test as Head Coach on February 1st, when the Sonics travel to face National Conference League Premier side Hull Dockers in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
To allow Talbot to concentrate on coaching, Tom Bedkowski has been appointed First Team Manager. He takes over from Nick Brook, who will continue to assist the club on match days. Bedkowski recently worked as Team Liaison Officer for the Cook Islands national side during Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Talbot brings a wealth of experience to the role of Head Coach. He has previously coached a number of amateur sides, and has been heavily involved in RAF and British Armed Forces representative Rugby League for the past two decades. He’s previously coached the RAF Development side, acted as assistant coach to the full RAF side for three years, and was Head Coach on the RAF tour to Australia in 2009. He’s currently technical analyst for the RAF, secretary of GB Armed Forces Rugby League, and Forces representative on the RFL Community Board.
As you’d expect, Talbot is relishing his new role with the Sonics. He said: “As head coach of the Sonics I am hoping to build a club culture that will be based on honesty and professional attitudes to playing and training amongst players and staff. Along with everyone else involved with the team, I would like to see the Sonics as the best-run club in the league. First we need to broaden our player base and forge links to unite all the RL elements in Bristol.
“My coaching philosophy is simple. You can be as big or fast as you want, but if you don’t possess the basic skills of passing, catching and tackling you will always be beaten by a more agile and skillful team. It’s a simple game that people try to overcomplicate.
“Our game plan will be simple but effective and executed by a skillful group of individuals who want to play for the Sonics, but most importantly each other. One thing I’ve learned from my time in the military is the lengths people will go to for a mate. I want my Sonics team to fight for each other, which in turn will bring success for the club.”
Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole has wasted no time in praising the Dewsbury-born coach. He said: “We’re thrilled to have a coach as experienced and motivated as Jason take charge of our first team squad. He takes over at an exciting time for the club, following the excitement of seeing a Rugby League World Cup 2013 match in Bristol last autumn, and all the goodwill and publicity that brought. I have no doubt that he will do a terrific job. From what I’ve heard, he’s brought a lot of new ideas to training and the players are feeding off his enthusiasm. It bodes well for the season.”
Cole also put on record his thanks to Karl Fearnley, who oversaw the most successful period in the club’s history to date on the pitch. Under Fearnley’s stewardship, the Sonics won a string of trophies, and moved up into the elite “tier 3” level of amateur Rugby League.
Cole said: “On behalf of everyone at the club, I’d like to thank Karl for his immense contribution to the Sonics over the last decade. Thanks to his coaching and hard work behind the scenes, the club has developed drastically. We will never forget his contribution as coach, and we look forward to his continued involvement on the committee over the years to come.”
Karl Fearnley will continue to be involved with the Sonics as Director of Rugby, but will re-focus on club and junior development. He will work closely with new Junior Chairman Ian Waters.
The coaching and management shake-up extends to the second team, where former first team players and second team regulars Stafford Lloyd and Tristan Moore will take charge. They will jointly coach and manage the second team, which begins its West of England League campaign in May.
Stafford Lloyd said: “I’m delighted that myself and Tristan have been appointed to take charge of our second team. We see it as a vital part of the club – a place for new players, youngsters and old heads to come together to play Rugby League and have a laugh. We think the second team should be the beating heart of the club – a way of attracting newcomers, retaining players and giving talented youngsters a chance to prove their skills in open age rugby. We’d encourage anyone who fancies playing Rugby League, regardless of experience or ability, to come down and give it a go. We’ll make you very welcome.”
The Sonics are currently in pre-season training. Their last session before Saturday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup match at Hull Dockers will take place on the outdoor 4G pitch at SGS College Wise Campus, Filton, on Tuesday 28th January, starting at 7.45pm. New players are always welcome.