I'm curious but do English rugby fans view winning this cup as a big achievement?Many congratulations to Bristol Bears who beat Toulon 32-19 at Aix En Provence this evening to win the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The director of rugby, Pat Lam, deserves huge credit as does owner Steve Lansdown for supporting Lam both financially and with all-round backing.
I take it that you are a rugby follower, Severn. I went to a grammar school (at Weston) when I was eleven via the eleven-plus exam and was introduced to rugby there. I was extremely fortunate in that our main rugby master was WTH (Willie) Davies who had played for Wales and was in the Swansea team that famously beat the supposedly 'unbeatable' All Blacks' in 1935. He was then 18 and was the outside-half and together with his 18-year old cousin Haydn Tanner (a future Wales captain) who was the scrum-half was credited with being mainly responsible for the Swansea win. The All Blacks captain is said to have retorted, "Tell them we have been beaten, but don't tell them it was by a pair of schoolboys"Hear, hear, well said!
You've captured my sentiments exactly, and I'm sure many in Bristol, and further afield would agree.
What a day/week/year it's been for Bristol Rugby.
I support all local sport and although City is my main football team I always like to see Rovers doing well - as long as it doesn't adversely affect City. The West Country has too few top sports teams. In fact, I saw Rovers play before I watched City when I was taken to see the Pirates as they were known in those days beat the then First Division Portsmouth 2-1 at Eastville Stadium before 36,000 spectators in the third round of the FA Cup in January 1955. I was still in short trousers.Probably because I’m a gas head I think the reason Steve lansdown invested in the rugby was so that he could have premiership sport at Ashton gate
I think it's a bit like football with the FA Cup and League Cup or with the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. The FA Cup and EUFA Champions League, especially the latter, are the major prizes but the other two are there to be won if your team is in contention. The same applies with the European Rugby Champions Cup and its junior sibling the Challenge Cup.I'm curious but do English rugby fans view winning this cup as a big achievement?
Under the current rules if he's been capped and if he signs a new contract with a non Welsh team after receiving an offer from one of the Welsh pro teams he wouldn't be able to play for Wales. If there was no offer from a Welsh team he would be able to play for Wales. He'd also be eligible if it was just a contract extension on his current contract.At what point will he have to transfer to a Welsh club if he has serious Welsh international ambitions? I'm sure he has. Ioan Lloyd is another extremely talented and highly promising Welsh youngster currently in the Bristol Bears camp.
Thank you for the eligibility explanation.Under the current rules if he's been capped and if he signs a new contract with a non Welsh team after receiving an offer from one of the Welsh pro teams he wouldn't be able to play for Wales. If there was no offer from a Welsh team he would be able to play for Wales. He'd also be eligible if it was just a contract extension on his current contract.
Wales does have quite a few potential players playing in England a lot attracted through schools like Hartpury college. You can't blame them for wanting to get a decent education both academic and rugby wise.
Winning the champions Cup in 2 years is a tough ask but without saracens it's made slightly easier!
How many of the current Bristol squad are local or have risen through the academy system? It's difficult to see Mr Lansdown withdrawing his financial support in the near future, but when he does, the club will need a self-sustaining development set up.Most of their players were locally developed
Seven or eight of the players who have featured fairly regularly in the Bristol first team this season can be said to be local players or locally developed as youngsters - the Welsh pair Sheedy and Lloyd for starters. You can't be more local than the big lock Joe Joyce from the huge Southmead estate in north Bristol with his strong Bristol accent bellowing across the pitch; he played many games for the club in the Championship having come through the academy and is now doing well in the Prem and is also a massive Bristol City supporter. Ellis Genge is another Bristol-developed player from a modest background who hails from the south Bristol estate of Knowle West. Reasons outside rugby led to his moving to Leicester Tigers and he is now an England international of course.There are others in the first team squad who also joined the club in their Championship days.How many of the current Bristol squad are local or have risen through the academy system? It's difficult to see Mr Lansdown withdrawing his financial support in the near future, but when he does, the club will need a self-sustaining development set up.
What was most impressive about Exeter's win on Saturday was that almost half the match squad were locally developed players. Exeter's rise to the top over the past ten years was initially funded by Tony Rowe from his (far less substantial than Lansdown's) SW Comms fortune, and at that stage most of the players were imported nationally or internationally, and the locals who had always been the core of the Exeter team no longer featured. By establishing an excellent academy at Ivybridge and searching through the region for likely prospects Rob Baxter and his colleagues have created a structure which has the potential to ensure Exeter can remain a top club for the long term. I hope Bristol can do something similar. (And, of course, hope that Leicester implode and drop through the leagues!)