The Premiership regular season is now complete and with that, the confirmation of the one club that has been relegated to the Championship. That club, of course, is Bristol Rugby and the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.
Although there were some slim hopes that either Doncaster Knights or Ealing Trailfinders would emerge victorious from the Championship playoffs and as a result, keep Bristol in the Premiership, those have been dashed as both clubs failed to reach the final.
The Ashton Gate club got off to the worst possible start in England’s top tier as they lost their first 10 games in all competitions before sacking Director of Rugby, Andy Robinson, in November. Connacht head coach, Pat Lam, was confirmed as his successor but he had to see out the season with the Irish province.
Mark Tainton took over on an interim basis but was unable to preserve the club’s Premiership status. Bristol are expected to make an immediate return to the Premiership, especially when you consider the impressive Lam is coming on board.
They will need to learn their lessons of their ill-fated Premiership appearance when they make their return and this is something which isn’t lost on club owner, Steven Lansdown.
“I should have perhaps stuck my oar in a bit earlier and said ‘we need that change,” Lansdown admitted to BBC Sport.
“We started off very badly. We underestimated what the Premiership would do.
“Our players have got better over time, but we know we didn’t get it right at the start of the season.”
The club have made a large number of signings ahead of next season and supporters will be confident that Lam can guide the club back to the top at the first ask.
“We’ve got to take our medicine now, step back and regroup. We need that extra class – I think we’ve brought that in now – and we need that development. The plan is in place.”
Short-term pain for long-term gain.