TOP BAR - Fixtures

One month to go until Bristol make their return to Premiership Rugby action

With Bristol’s return to Premiership Rugby for the first time since 2009, fans will be looking forward to renewing some old rivalries with their West Country neighbours.

Bristol’s first foray against their local rivals will be in one month at the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series at Sandy Park in Exeter.

They will face Bath Rugby, Exeter Chiefs and Wasps on 23 July with the action kicking off at 3pm as the club looks to make an instant impression after their sensational promotion from the Championship.

“We have not been involved for a while so it’s great to be back in this event,” said Bristol Rugby academy backs coach Sean Marsden.

“Sandy Park is a fantastic venue, it’s really accessible for the clubs involved and it’s a great opportunity for the lads to put on the shirt and play against Bath, Exeter and Wasps.

“Each time the guys get the opportunity they can catch our eye. It will be the first time some have worn a Bristol shirt and I know they will be really excited. They will want to work hard for each other and for themselves.

“Any confidence we can draw from that is brilliant; we will take it as a massive positive.”

Marsden is hoping for some strong travelling support at the Singha 7s to inspire a squad which will mainly be made up of academy players.

It is an exciting time for Rugby 7s with the sport about to leap into the limelight when rugby union makes its first appearance at the Olympic Games since 1924.

Aviva Premiership Rugby leads the way when it comes to club 7s, and after this year's Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off in Cardiff, it will visit Exeter, Northampton and Newcastle before the showpiece final in Coventry on 7 August.

A sell-out crowd of 16,084 were at Ashton Gate for the second leg of the Championship final and Marsden wants his young charges to provide lots of entertaining running rugby for the fans.

“There will be a good fan base travelling down and it’s something to look forward to. The boys can go out, express themselves and have fun,” he added.

“It’s a fast, exciting game and for some senior academy lads it’s a really good chance to put on a Bristol shirt and get a chance to express themselves.

“Any back enjoys the thought of throwing the ball around, having that extra space and the ability to really enjoy it.

“The Singha 7s is great to watch, it’s always nice to see people taking people on one-on-one, guys skinning guys and scoring tries.

“We have really got to free our players up to challenge themselves, move the ball into space and try and score as many tries as they can.”

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets

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