11th October 2020, 10:05 | south_west
A fresh attempt to establish Rugby League in the South West was launched over the weekend, with confirmation of an RL Academy at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) in September 2021 as the basis for two newly-formed open-age teams – the Bristol All Golds, and the Golden Ferns.
The teams will play out of the SGS Wise Stoke Gifford Stadium – with the aim of bringing professional Rugby League to Bristol.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week and Joe David, the CEO of Bristol All Golds, said: “We are delighted to enter into partnership with one of the finest and most successful educational sporting organisations in the land. Discussions have been lengthy and detailed and conducted in a professional and cordial manner throughout. All our sides both male and female will now have access to quite outstanding training, match day and office facilities."
Kevin Hamblin, the CEO of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, said: “We are very excited to be linking with the Bristol All Golds. We pride ourselves on the quality and range of sport provision available to SGS learners and we are looking forward to developing our Rugby League academy, raising the standard of rugby in the region and providing links into professional careers.
“We believe that Rugby League in the South West will tap into a significant talent pool. The College has successfully launched Bristol Flyers Basketball Club and Bristol Academy (now City) Women’s Football Club which are under the wing of Bristol Sport and are fully professional. We see Rugby League having a similar opportunity, with the College providing the conveyor belt of talent for the Club going forward.”
The All Golds will also retain their well-established teams in Gloucester and grow their Schools' and Community Clubs' Rugby League development work
Joe David added: "Bristolians have shown their appetite for Rugby League when they attended in large numbers to watch the 2013 World Cup match between the United States of America and the Cook Islands. A superb encounter that was voted one of the games of the tournament. A major target is to now see the hosting of the Magic Weekend in the city and male and female international fixtures. Fans will enjoy the many delights of one of the country's most historic and popular destinations."
Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “There have always been the Rugby League embers of something potentially very special in the Bristol and Gloucester area and I am delighted to see that thanks to the energy and vision of Chairman, Lionel Hurst, Kevin and now Joe, the Bristol All Golds and The Golden Ferns will now emerge and proudly represent all of the pyramid that lies beneath. Those teams will also mark the historical importance to the sport of the area and we look forward to welcoming them both into the Rugby League fold.”
SGS College is now taking enrolments for the Higher Education Rugby League Academy - to be known as SGS Bristol Academy All Golds - which will start in September 2021 and compete initially in the Western 1A division of the Universities' league. In addition, The Further Education Academy will aim to commence in September 2022.