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'We’ve remained strong and connected’ – Oliver

Kim Oliver chats life in lockdown, Bears Women’s sense of family and a whole host of summer arrivals.

It has been six months since Bristol Bears Women took to the field in what has felt like an age since the last taste of Premier 15s action.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had its restrictions, and rightly so, but Head Coach Kim Oliver - who recently celebrated three years at the helm for Bears Women - insists that her side will come back stronger than ever from the lockdown.

“It’s been a really tough time for everyone, some more than others with the huge impact of the pandemic, but the whole group has remained strong and connected which has been brilliant to see,” said Oliver.

“It was an abrupt end to the season with a lot of rugby still to play and we knew we faced a long time without even seeing each other let alone getting back out on the pitch at Shaftesbury Park.

“I’ve been blown away with how the girls have reacted to the situation and we’ve all been in contact weekly via Zoom with quizzes, team meetings just to try and make sure everyone stays connected and we keep spirits high.

“We’ve also got a number of girls who have been fighting on the frontline of the pandemic with a number of doctors in the squad, as well as key workers and they’ve been truly inspirational in the work they have done throughout this period.

Clea Fawcett
Simi Pam

“A lot of people will have seen via social media the games and challenges we created at the start of lockdown and I think that really helped galvanise the girls and there was some truly hilarious content to come out of it – not to mention beating the boys in a tightly contested gymnastics competition that went down to the wire.

“A big hand must go to our S&C team, who created the challenges and gave us all a lot of entertainment, whilst also providing the girls with the training plans needed to make sure we’re in a good place when rugby returns.

“It’s also been tough to see a large number of the playing group leave because the Development League will no longer be taking place from next season. It’s always hard to see people go, especially with the culture we have created at the club, but we’ve been keeping in contact with those that have left us to try and ease their transition out of the club.”

The last competitive action at Shaftesbury Park saw Bears Women overcome Firwood Waterloo 48-0 on January 11th (via JMPUK)

Whilst the lockdown has caused itchy feet to get back on the rugby pitch, Kim Oliver has been hard at work behind-the-scenes to recruit five Wales internationals thus far, adding plenty of firepower to the Bears Women ranks.

“I’m delighted at the level of talent we have been able to bring into the club this summer and add five fantastic players, who can all make an impact at the club and on the league. 

“We want to be a team that attracts international calibre players and challenge for the top four, we have a fantastic facility and infrastructure at the club and now it’s about truly staking a claim for top four spot as we look to progress as a club.

“All of the players we have brought in so far will add even more talent and competition to the playing group, which is going to raise the performance levels even higher and I’m excited to see what this group can achieve in the upcoming season.”


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