Bristol Rugby prepare final promotion push
Following the disappointment of relegation last year after having spent four seasons in the Guinness Premiership, Bristol are looking to make an immediate return and are now tantalisingly close.
They have had an impressive season so far, finishing top of the League having lost only three games. Exeter Chiefs were their closest challengers finishing four points behind in second.
This year the RFU has introduced a new format to the Championship (formerly National One). After the regular season the top eight teams were split into two promotion Pools: A and B, meanwhile the bottom four into another one: Pool C.
The RFU has also pledged more funding for the Championship, news which has been well received. According to RFU Management Board Chairman Martyn Thomas, “for too long First Division Rugby has hovered between the community game and the Premiership, uncertain of both its standing in the structure and its future. Now is the time to establish its rightful place.”
This increase in funding and extra television coverage on Sky Sports has undoubtedly given the division a fresh take and certainly makes the season finale an incredibly exciting one. Bristol currently lead Pool A with one game left against the Cornish Pirates on Saturday 1 May and will surely finish top.
Bristol have more or less blown away opposition teams this season with some good attacking rugby. They suffered narrow defeats on the road to Doncaster and Moseley whilst their only loss at home came at the hands of Exeter.
They did avenge this defeat by beating their West Country rivals 16-25 when they travelled down the M5 to Sandy Park. Back in October they thumped Coventry 46-28 and ran in eight tries. Tom Arscott scored a hat trick for a rampant Bristol in what was also the first Championship game to be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Other impressive victories, notably 42-7 against Doncaster, have kept the Bristol faithful flocking to the Memorial Ground - home also to Bristol Rovers. The highest attendance so far came against another West Country rival- the Cornish Pirates - almost 8,000 packed out the stadium in January.
Bristol have recorded a 15 match unbeaten run this season - the best for the club since the game turned professional. They are also indebted to their fly half Adrian Jarvis who has kicked 232 points and scored two tries this season.
Head Coach Paul Hull insists his side have still got a lot more to offer in the play-offs and having just beaten Bedford they are on course to make it to the semis where they will most likely face London Welsh or Nottingham.
A place in the two-leg final is beckoning and one can see that this city badly craves a Premiership team - just as it does in football. Buses and billboards around Bristol are awash with the slogan Ã¢â‚¬ËœC’mon Bris’ Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Big Push’.