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Bristol Schools Rugby Union 125th anniversary

The Bristol Schools Rugby Union is set to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year.

With a strong relationship existing between the Bristol Bears Academy and Bristol Schools, this working partnership continues to help develop Bristol’s youth rugby.

The successful integration of the County Schools pathway and the Academy Development pathway has created increased playing opportunities for those involved. In which players are able to challenge themselves to play in fixtures that are of a higher standard.

Sitting alongside this is the Junior Academy pathway, which consists of two programmes; Aspire and Excel. Together with Bristol Schools players can progress from the Aspire programme to the Excel programme.

County Schools fixtures have seen an increase in participation thanks to our working relationship and the approach of the Junior Academy pathway. Over 100 boys at U15s and 70 plus boys at U16s.

This has been made possible by the work of the Junior Academy, providing coaches for the programme and Bristol Schools, who run the administration and the management of the teams.

Junior Academy Manager, Gary Townsend, said: “The Bristol Schools RFU plays an essential part in the development pathway of Bristol Bears. It provides boys with the opportunity to play representative county rugby at a significant level above school and club and the award of a Bristol Schools tie is something of which the boys can be justifiably proud.

“The willingness of Bristol Schools to embrace a developmental role whilst maintaining a meaningful competitive programme is a unique relationship, and of considerable benefit to many local talented players.”

Down to the success of this partnership the decision was taken to change the design of the county tie. The tie is presented to every player that represents Bristol Schools at U16s level. The design now incorporates the Bears emblem alongside the Bristol Schools Unicorn. All playing kit and training kit for players are now dual branded with the Bear and Bristol Schools emblems.

It is clear to see the power of this partnership and the link to ‘inspiring the community through Rugby Success’ when the boys play in these fixtures, and through the support of family and friends on the touchline. The dual branded kit and tie is clearly appreciated and valued by the players, something which comes across in post-match photos.

The values of the Junior Academy and Gary Townsend shine through, too – ‘where every player aspires to be the best version of themselves’. This aligns strongly with all Bristol Schools in supporting the boys to value their school progress as much as their rugby.

As with the Academy team in these age groups, the players come from both the State sector and the Independent sector.

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