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New Academy Boundaries Signal Positive Future

Academy Development Manager Gary Townsend believes the increased Academy boundaries will see significant benefits for the Club.

From August 1, Bristol’s Academy boundaries will see the the inclusion of North and West Somerset.

Gary Townsend, who manages Bristol Rugby Junior Academy, is excited by the prospect of the new boundaries.

He said: "The clubs in North and West Somerset have strong traditions and are often the centre of their rural communities. Combine this with the schools in the area and there is a great deal of room for excitement and optimism.

“Having played a good deal of my rugby in Somerset and having taught in the North of the county I am fully aware of the strength of rugby in the area. The rural nature of the county often means that the club is at the centre of the local community. This is a connection we’re trying to replicate on a larger scale at Bristol Rugby.

"Our aim is to strengthen rugby in the clubs and schools by developing players towards realising their potential. In a tiny minority of cases this might be playing for Bristol, for some it will be playing for the county, and in the majority of cases it will be playing for their local club. What ever their achievements might be it is important to us that the boys are proud of their roots, of their club, their school and of their heritage.”

There are bound to be challenges, not least of which is the transition of an area that has been a part of Bath’s catchment for more than ten years, but Mike Hall, Academy Manager, is confident that the transition will not take long.

“North and West Somerset have been on our radar for a long time and we are exceptionally pleased to be working there at last. In partnership with the clubs and schools we will invest heavily in the development of players and coaches to maximise the undoubted potential in the area," he added.

"We are fully supportive of the county structure, which enables young, aspirational players to test themselves at the next level. We anticipate that the area will be fully represented within the Academy programme from 15 to 18, and beyond."

The addition of the new area to the existing catchment of South Gloucestershire and Bristol will increase the competition for places in the Academy and push boys throughout the programme to work harder towards achieving their potential.