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Aviva Premiership 2016-2017 Preview: Bristol

Bristol return to the Premiership for the first time since 2009 after numerous attempts to make it past the promotion play-offs, but always ending with being pipped to the post.

With billionaire owner Stephen Lansdown providing financial stability to a club that has often struggled to compete with the top clubs in the country, the boys from the West Country will be optimistic about maintaining their Premiership status beyond this season.

With a fantastic rebuilt Ashton Gate Stadium for dedicated Bristol fans to enjoy as their backdrop for their fight to stay in the top flight, there is a lot of hope down in Bristol and that sense of positivity is echoed by Andy Robinson, who has embraced a series of potentially very demanding fixtures at the beginning of the season.

“When you look at that first month you know the players have got to be at their very best and make sure they work even harder,” said Robinson (via Bristol Post).

Bristol will first face Harlequins at Twickenham as part of the annual London Double Header event, before taking on Northampton at home, Wasps away, Premiership finalists Exeter at home and then winners Saracens.

2016-17 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season Fixtures Announced

Head coach Andy Robinson is now in his fourth season at the club and brings a wealth of international coaching experience along with him. What will be fascinating for him and indeed for the fans is that Robinson has not coached a Premiership side since 2000 when he was at Bath.

His coaching pedigree seems to be reflected in the club’s signings for the new season with shrewd signatures being confirmed through the acquisitions of Premiership old heads Jordan Crane, Jon Fisher and Soane Tonga’uiha, the Sunwolves’ Tusi Pisi and a few of the Championship’s best players in Nick Fenton-Wells and Will Hurrell.

Couple that with such talent as Anthony Perenise, Ian Evans, Gavin Henson, Jack Lam, David Lemi and Tom Varndell and you start to think that Bristol might not be such walkovers as the likes of London Welsh and Rotherham were in the past.

Despite a challenging start to the season, Bristol have a fantastic core of individuals dedicated to their cause and have bought in the right kind of players that they will need to provide not only Premiership experience but also outstanding talent as well.

Northampton Saints Media Day

With Worcester reeling after Dean Ryan shocked Sixways by walking away from his director of rugby position last week, the West Midlands outfit are in real danger of scraping the bottom of the Premiership table once more. Dean Richards’ Newcastle will also likely be entering into a relegation battle with Worcester once more as they struggle to match the financial clout of many of the other Premiership clubs.

Therefore with a big money backer behind them, a settled squad and coaching set-up and exciting signings already made, Bristol have a real chance to survive in the Premiership this season and go from strength to strength.

Players In

Martin Roberts from Ospreys
Rhodri Williams from Scarlets
Luke Arscott from Bath Rugby
Tusi Pisi from Sunwolves
Jordan Williams from  Scarlets
Nick Fenton-Wells from  Bedford Blues
Jordan Crane from  Leicester Tigers
Thretton Palamo from  Saracens
Jon Fisher from  Northampton Saints
Soane Tonga’uiha from Oyonnax
Will Hurrell from  Doncaster Knights

Players Out

Matthew Morgan to Cardiff Blues
Marco Mama to Worcester Warriors
Dwayne Peel retired
Craig Hampson to Wasps
George Watkins to Jersey Reds
Ellis Genge to Leicester Tigers
Tommaso Benvenuti to Benetton Treviso
Josh Ovens released
Darren Hudson released
James Stephenson released

Prediction: 10th

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.