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Club legend Joe Joyce to depart at end of 2022/23 season

Bristolian stalwart Joe Joyce has taken the decision to depart Bristol Bears at the end of the 2022/23 season to join Irish province Connacht.

After more than eleven years and 151 appearances since graduating through the Academy, Joyce will depart for a new challenge in the west of Ireland next summer.

“As everyone knows I’m a homegrown lad and a proud Bristolian, but I’m also hugely proud of my Irish heritage, so when this opportunity came about, I had to make a really tough decision and Connacht is really the only other club I’d play for,” said Joyce.

“I’ve been here ten years now and loved every second of it, but if I’m going to take on a new challenge, it’s got to be next year. I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved at Bristol over such a long time but if I looked back on my career and didn’t take the opportunity to play in a different environment, I didn’t want any regrets.

“I think the right move for me now would be to represent the Joyce name and my heritage in Galway. I’ve had some emotional conversations with Pat, Steve, Jon and Chris and they’ve been very supportive and understood the feelings behind it.

“I’ll always be grateful for how understanding they’ve been and what they have done for me and for sport in this city. Before Pat came, some people said I’d never play in the Premiership and now I’ve captained the club, made over 150 appearances and won a European Cup.

“I said I didn’t want them to try and make me an offer to stay because playing for Bristol has never been about the money. I just know that now is the right time for me to experience something new.

“It’s not over yet – there’s a huge season ahead of us and I’m determined to help make it the best one yet.”

“As everyone knows I’m a homegrown lad and a proud Bristolian, but I’m also hugely proud of my Irish heritage, so when this opportunity came about, I had to make a really tough decision and Connacht is really the only other club I’d play for.”

Joe Joyce

Joyce was named Forward of the Season, Team Man of the Season and Supporters Player of the Season at the club’s end of season awards and has helped the Bears to two promotions, a maiden European trophy and a top-of-the-table finish in the Gallagher Premiership during his time at Ashton Gate.

Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “Joe is a true legend of Bristol Bears and he carries the utmost respect from everybody in the club. The way he has handled this situation, and the honesty and maturity he has showed, is just an example of the man he is.

“We are sad to lose Joycey but he is still a young man who wants to go out and challenge himself and create new experiences. We understand that and, first and foremost, our commitment is to Joe and Lauren and supporting them wholeheartedly in the life decisions they choose.

“What makes me most proud of with Joycey is the way he has grown – as a leader and a player – in the last five years. He has worked tirelessly to be the best he can be and he is a perfect example to young Bristolians of what can he achieved through diligence and hard work.

“Joe has one more year with this group and he will be more determined than ever to leave his boyhood club on a high. He will be a key leader in our Bears Team Culture in 2022/23 and I know he will continue to drive the standards and reflect the Spirit of the Bears in everything he does.”


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