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Ward determined to make an impact on his return to the West Country

Bristol Bears Women will have a new man at the helm for the 2021/22 Allianz Premier 15s campaign in Head Coach Dave Ward.

The Bristol native is driven to turn fortunes round on the pitch for Bears Women citing the shared club vision, working under Pat Lam and the world-class talent at the club as ‘huge draws’ in him returning home.   

“First of all, it was the vision of the club, to be a Bears family and bring the Bears men, women and academy teams together and to represent the city of Bristol which I grew up in was massively appealing,” said Ward.

“To work under a guy like Pat Lam, in terms of his vision but most importantly it’s to work with the players of Bristol Bears Women. There are some fantastic talents there, some really good players who are probably the best in the world – the opportunity to work with them was a huge draw.”

Performances on the pitch in recent seasons have not been to the desired level and Ward believes the group will need to go back to basics and discover what ‘playing the Bristol way’ looks like for the women’s programme.

“It’s going to be about the fundamentals. Going back to basics of what our structures are, playing the Bristol way and discovering what that looks like for Bears Women and understanding how that’s going to affect the rest of the league as well, and working really hard.

He continued: “The girls will be pleased to know that we’re going to work really hard in pre-season to get the new season off to the right start.”

The new campaign will see the men’s and women’s programme forge a closer partnership than ever before and Ward is excited for his players to work with and learn from Gallagher Premiership table-toppers.

“I have spoken to a couple of the guys in the men’s squad, who are keen to offer their expertise and provide mentorship. They’re looking to bridge those gaps even more and fulfil the one club vision. We have seen how successful the men can be, it will be a massive feat if we can come close to that.

Bristol Bears Women have the ambition of competing at the top end of the Allianz Premier 15s table and challenging for the title. A feat Ward knows will be tough given the level of competition in the league but definitely achievable, only if everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

“It’s going to be a big challenge. You have already got the likes of Saracens, Harlequins, Wasps and Loughborough that have nailed down those top four spots for the last three seasons.

“To get in and amongst that will be tough. Exeter gave it a good go this season, they won seven in a row – the only team to do that and they’re fresh to the league.

He added: “For us at Bristol, we’ll focus on ourselves in pre-season, work out what everyone else is doing once the season starts and go for it – it’s an 18-game sprint. You slip up once or twice and you’ll miss those play-off places, but for us, we’ll be looking to get pre-season under our belt, get everyone on the same page and go from there.”


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