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Bears announce partnership with Kolkata Jungle Crows

Bristol Bears are pleased to announce a partnership with Kolkata Jungle Crows.

The agreement will bring two clubs from different ends of the rugby spectrum together, offering them opportunities, through shared learning and connection, to broaden their horizons and enrich the communities they inspire.

With a long-term aim of shaping global grassroots rugby, the new partnership was a result of the enthusiasm of Bristol actor and Bears’ season ticket holder Stewart Wright.

Founded in 2004, the Kolkata Jungle Crows was started by a small group of rugby fans living in Kolkata and has grown over the years to now have men's and women's teams competing at every level across India. Playing on Crow Field in the heart of Maidan, the club have won Kolkata's top league competition, the Calcutta Cup, four times. They have also won the Centenary Cup and the Under 17s team are national champions. Many of the men’s and women’s teams play international rugby for India.

The team’s ‘Khelo Rugby’ scheme was a World Rugby Spirit of Rugby project for four years and received several awards in India for its work in the community. These past successes enhance the next steps for Kolkata Jungle Crows and Bristol Bears as they look to help the development of the game in India and the Bears’ local community, with both clubs working together to create opportunities to support rugby and its many social benefits.

Bears Chief Executive Mark Tainton said: “We’re pleased to form an innovative partnership with Kolkata Jungle Crows and commend Paul and his team for the incredible work they do in their community. Growing our brand and supporting charitable causes across the world are fantastic incentives for Bristol Bears and our collaborative vision to Inspire Our Community Through Rugby Success.

“There is a historic link between Bristol Bears and India, as Bears’ Junior Academy Manager Gary Townsend went to India with a charitable trust in 2006, 2007 and 2008. During that time, he worked with Kolkata Jungle Crows among other teams. In 2018 Gary went back out to India and once again worked with Paul Walsh and the Crows.”

Paul Walsh MBE, Founder of Kolkata Jungle Crows added: “We are excited and proud to announce a unique partnership with English Premiership Rugby club Bristol Bears.

This will be a genuine partnership with opportunities for people involved in both clubs. I see this as two rugby clubs with one shared vision: to inspire their communities. We look forward to working together with the Bristol Bears players and staff.”

The idea for the partnership between the two clubs has been germinating since Bristol actor Stewart Wright was filming in India in 2018, playing Paul Walsh in the film Jungle Cry. Stewart was inspired by Paul’s story of coaching 12 underprivileged and orphan children from Kalinga Institute in Odisha, India, and their triumphant journey to the International Junior Rugby Tournament held in the UK in 2007. Part of the film was shot in Wales with some of the Kolkata Jungle Crows players. On a day off from filming, Stewart arranged to bring the players to Bristol to watch a Bears game, which was an important steppingstone to this partnership.

Stewart concluded: “I’m very honoured to have played a small part in the history of these two inspiring clubs. Their partnership has enabled me to combine my first passion of rugby with my subsequent ones for India, youth development, acting and Bristol Bears. I am looking forward to watching this exciting new relationship flourish.”


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