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Bears sign six to Integrated Academy

Bristol have added a crop of exciting young talent to the Integrated Academy ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

Fly half Tom Wilstead, winger Deago Bailey, loosehead prop Andrew Turner and centre Harry Ascherl all make the step up to senior level having graduated through the Academy system from U13s, while Freddie Owsley and Fitz Harding also sign professional contracts.

Homegrown trio Wilstead (Cleve RFC and Colstons), Turner (Weston Super Mare and SGS Filton) and Bailey (Dings and SGS Filton) were standout performers in the U18s’ route to a third placed finish in the U18s League Southern Conference.

The boys were recognised for their displays through selection for England U18s’ development camp in February.

Clifton College and Old Bristolians’ Harry Ascherl made his Premiership Shield debut for the club in 2018 and has since trained regularly with Pat Lam’s senior squad.

The former Bears Academy U18s skipper travelled to France with the first team on the 2019 pre-season tour and has featured for Bristol Bears ‘A’ during the current campaign.

Bristolian Owsley – a graduate of Clifton College - represented Great Britain Student Sevens and won gold in the BUCS outdoor championships in the 4x400m event. The winger made his club debut versus Saracens Storm in the Premiership Shield.

Durham University and England Students back rower Fitz Harding – who has represented Bears at the Premiership Sevens – helped Durham to the BUCS Super Rugby title this season and was shortlisted for BUCS Super Rugby player of the year.

Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “Homegrown players are a core pillar of our vision, so it’s great to add a new crop of Academy talent into our senior squad for the 2020/21 season.

“I believe all of these players have the necessary ability to succeed, so by adding work rate, commitment and a relentless attitude, they can be a key part of the Bristol Bears squad for years to come.”

Senior Academy Manager Gethin Watts said: “We have identified and developed these hugely talented players in a number of ways.

“Our core development pathway is our Academy through strong relationships with our partner schools and clubs, which is the route that Andrew, Deago, Harry and TJ followed.

“But, just as importantly, we are aware that players develop at different stages and we’re consistently monitoring all levels of the game, which is how Fitz and Freddy were recruited.

“These are diligent, talented young men who have bought into the Bears vision and are excited to represent the club.

“The boys are a credit to their schools, clubs, families and universities and they know what is expected of them in the demanding environment of senior professional rugby.”