Bristol prospects?


By Monkey1
October 5 2016

  This isn’t really anything to do with our next home game, although that obviously got me thinking about our newly promoted friends from the South West. For bizarre reasons that remain unknown to most if not all of us, it has taken them a long time to get back into the Premiership since their exit in 2009. So what are their chances of staying?  

Promotion from the Championship to the Premiership seems to become more of a step up each year, but it is a long time since anybody looked as well prepared as Bristol to make a good fist of it. They have planned well for it each year for a while, so have good business & playing plans worked out. Not surprisingly however they are finding it an uphill challenge. That isn’t because their squad isn’t good enough, although obviously some players may not adapt as well as others to the changes that they are having to make, and there is no reason to doubt the competence of the management.

 

Rugby is very much a team sport. You can stick a brilliant individual into an ordinary team and fail spectacularly. The most obvious example is that the star player makes a break, whizzes ahead with the ball, the rest of the team can’t keep up so he gets turned over. In many ways the team would have worked better without him. That in a nut shell illustrates why Bristol would not benefit much by getting the cheque book flying to add new players, and the disruptive effect would be huge too. The squad as a whole needs to be brought up to speed gradually and in harmony, and that takes time. If Andy Robinson is a cool & wise man, I would expect a few key signings as the season goes on, but a focus remaining on stability.

 

It probably sounds easy, but it isn’t. Somebody once described the challenges of improving a Premiership team in a way that I liked a lot. Imagine that the top teams are playing their rugby at 100% of their potential, well the bottom Premiership teams are playing at 98% and the best Championship teams at 96%. The margins between top and bottom are very small, but the difference in outcomes is enormous. Making those small improvements is exceptionally hard work.

 

Premiership rugby is a bit faster than Championship rugby for a start, the speed at which almost everything happens is that little bit faster. What that means for the promoted team is that they have to increase their pace if they want to compete. Sounds easy, until you start thinking that if everyone suddenly runs a bit faster, logic suggests that they will get out of position, the entire dynamics of the game that they are used to will change slightly, and players will start passing to players who are not there, creating gaps in defensive lines, generally it will all go pear shaped. You therefore have to increase the intensity gradually on the training pitch week after week, then hope that the players can stick to the script on the day. The reality of course is that in competitive games it all tends to go horribly wrong as some players try too hard, others don’t keep up, because it generally isn’t a well-oiled machine yet.

 

That is the sort of change that the Bristol squad are having to work on as the season progresses, and it applies to pretty much every discipline of the game. They will be up against more skilled opposition in line outs, slightly stronger & more technically capable scrums, and will have to play at a higher intensity than they are used to for 80 minutes. All of them just little changes, but altogether a game that is unfamiliar, that they are not quite comfortable with. Trying to play at 98% when you have been used to being tested at 96% is actually a massive change.

 

Because it takes time to bring the squad up to speed, the promoted team enters the season with a huge disadvantage. They don’t stand a hope in hell of being competitive until well into the season, by which time they could have been left too far behind to ever catch up. It therefore comes in handy if some other teams can help them out by being awful. If Bristol could have managed promotion into last season, they would have had us, Worcester & London Irish for company, all seemingly trying their best to be relegated. They would have stood a pretty good chance of staying up. It is still too early to tell how this season will pan out, but my impression so far is that it will be much tougher than last. Nobody looks particularly awful this season, well apart from us & Worcester when we play each other, but that has become an annual tradition.

 

Thinking about all of the above, it really does look like something needs to change if we are to preserve promotion & relegation. In the long term, if the game as a whole continues to grow, I think the custodians of the game, our beloved RFU in this country, need to address the growing gulf between Premiership & Championship rugby. For the good of the game as a whole it would be better to have meaningful promotion & relegation between the two leagues, and in a manner that is beneficial to both. That is going to mean more funding for the Championship, but the Premiership teams will not be happy about that. With the fragmented way in which the game is financed and administered at present it is difficult to see how there will ever be a will to make that happen. In the short term perhaps we need to protect a promoted team from relegation in their first year. Something needs to change or eventually the argument will be won for ring fencing, and personally I see that as a backward step. The game as a whole would become weaker.

 

I certainly do feel for the Bristol supporters. It is a great club with fantastic support, of a level that we can only dream about. I have spent quite a bit of time in Bristol, and you notice rugby there in the same way that you notice football in the North East. It is very much a rugby city. It will be very hard for them to take at the moment, seeing their team struggle after being top dog for a long time. If the outcome of this season didn’t matter they could just sit back & hopefully enjoy the ride, watching their team get a bit better week after week, preparing for a proper go next season. With the clock already ticking down to the end of this season it will be harder to just enjoy the experience, but I hope those who make it up here this weekend will enjoy the hospitality at Kingston Park, even if the result doesn’t go the way they would prefer.

pqs: qs:
Bristol prospects?
Posted by: FalconsRugby.org.uk (IP Logged)
Date: 05/10/2016 22:45

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Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Leipziger (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 08:20

"Trying to play at 98% when you have been used to being tested at 96% is actually a massive change."

That's what I thought when people talked about Bristol coming up and suddenly being really good and competitive - they have been used to only being really tested once every few weeks, if that. They could probably relax after 60 or even 40 minutes most weeks in the Championship. Now they need to be on it for 80 minutes every week and that's a big psychological change, not to mention a test of physical and mental fitness.


"In the short term perhaps we need to protect a promoted team from relegation in their first year."

I would go with that on two conditions:
1) if the promoted team finishes bottom, then the team that finishes 11th is relegated instead, rather than using it as an excuse to ringfence the league for a year.
2) that it isn't used as an excuse to continue to underfund the promoted team - they should get equal funding to the rest of the Premiership teams.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: bulmer22 (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 10:30

Same old thing again...
and again....
and again....
and again....
and again....
it has gone beyond boring.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Monkey1 (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 12:09

Have you been smoking something funny Bulmer?

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: bulmer22 (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 12:30

Just quoting some of your post from yesterday on the subject of Reality check. You made the same point about relegation and promotion a while back, and are just going over the same subject again on this thread. I don't think it's good to have a go at what others post, calling it boring, only then to repeat yourself, which I find boring.
This is after all an open forum and we don't have to follow your agenda. Just a thought ! and by the way I don't smoke.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Monkey1 (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 12:54

So this is only the second time I have ever mentioned it, yet you feel moved to post that utterly childish comment.

Hmmm, maybe writing the above little story could be something to do with the fact that if I didn't get something written up last night the message board would have automatically closed down.

I am sure we all eagerly await the article that you will be writing to keep the site going. I expect it will be something entirely fresh, entirely new, and on a subject that you have never mentioned ever before, not even once.

Thank you for your positive contribution to the site, I am sure everyone appreciates it.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: falconbear (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 16:29

Quote:
Monkey1
So this is only the second time I have ever mentioned it, yet you feel moved to post that utterly childish comment.
Hmmm, maybe writing the above little story could be something to do with the fact that if I didn't get something written up last night the message board would have automatically closed down.

I am sure we all eagerly await the article that you will be writing to keep the site going. I expect it will be something entirely fresh, entirely new, and on a subject that you have never mentioned ever before, not even once.

Thank you for your positive contribution to the site, I am sure everyone appreciates it.

Whats the crack with the site closing down Monkey? Are we obliged to contribute articles to prevent some type of winding up order?

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Monkey1 (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 20:31

The site needs a story such as this one every 2 weeks + a bit or the computer shuts down the message board. It is what keeps the hamster in the wheel.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: falconbear (IP Logged)
Date: 06/10/2016 21:07

Crikey. Seems a bit harsh. They're always appreciated from me anyway

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: dick g (IP Logged)
Date: 07/10/2016 06:56

Keep going Monk. I appreciate your analysis and observations even if I do not always agree with them.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: A tramp abroad (IP Logged)
Date: 07/10/2016 07:42

Seconded.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: StokesCrofter (IP Logged)
Date: 08/10/2016 13:41

Brizz supporter here. I thought it was a good article, although the gulf seems more than 96% to 98%. The top teams don't make many mistakes, their pressure has been constant and our mistakes have too quickly dissipated any attacking threat.

I definitely think the championship needs some support especially when there is so much money in the English game.

Thanks for the article I enjoyed reading it.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Wensleydale Falcon (IP Logged)
Date: 10/10/2016 16:24

It's a good article Monkey on a very pertinent subject as the gulf between the Premiership and Championship continues to widen year by year.

The decision makers need to react to this for the good of rugby at ALL levels in this country before it's too late.

Whatever the pros and cons for ringfencing (and we all have differing views) but money talks and I personally see this as the last season for promotion/relegation.

The prem will be increased from the existing 12 to 14 which will include London Irish and Leeds/Otley/Ilkley/Yorkshire Carnegie from 2018/2019 season and we will lose one of the cup competitions.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: bird lover (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 16:17

Leeds \ Otley \Ilkley\Carnegie, would never survive in Prem !!!!

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: pa8 (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 16:23

Quote:
bird lover
Leeds \ Otley \Ilkley\Carnegie, would never survive in Prem !!!!

They'd have a good chance if, as described, relegation was done away with.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: bird lover (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 16:34

Bottom of Prem down top of Championship go up.2\3\4 and bottom but one in Prem play off, sorted and fair.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: CharlieDog (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 17:19

Quote:
bird lover
Bottom of Prem down top of Championship go up.2\3\4 and bottom but one in Prem play off, sorted and fair.

Not really......

Still would increase the season by 2-3 weeks and with the uncertainty would mean the 2/3/4 placed team would be unable to plan for promotion until well after everyone had signed up the best players.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Wensleydale Falcon (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 19:33

My concerns for Carnegie would be their fan base......granted ours isn't massive but we are now getting upwards of 6000k for most games with the odd 7/8k thrown in.

That's down to a combination of things mainly the massive amounts of hard work that Mick Hogan and his team have put in over the last 2/3 years and the improvements made around KP.

Carnegie would need a massive financial backer as they are struggling to get many more than 2k and there just doesn't appear to be the appetite for rugby union in Leeds.

I would love to see Carnegie in the Prem but I can't see them being sustainable.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Leipziger (IP Logged)
Date: 11/10/2016 21:01

Quote:
CharlieDog
Quote:
bird lover
Bottom of Prem down top of Championship go up.2\3\4 and bottom but one in Prem play off, sorted and fair.

Not really......

Still would increase the season by 2-3 weeks and with the uncertainty would mean the 2/3/4 placed team would be unable to plan for promotion until well after everyone had signed up the best players.

This thing about promoted teams not being anle to sign good players isn't true. We still managed to sign Mike Blair (Scotland's most capped scrum half) and Andy Saull (very highly regarded round the Prem at the time. Welsh even signed Weepu and Barkley, granted they didn't really perform but they were very talented players. Bristol have, on paper, a very talented squad.

You could also say teams can't plan for next season if relegation is settled late yet we re-signed Gopperth during the season we went down and signed Rory Lawson in the summer.

Promotion and relegation isn't so much the problem as clubs, DORs and MDs using it as an excuse for their own limitations and lack of ambition.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: bird lover (IP Logged)
Date: 12/10/2016 08:22

Leeds first game of season attracted 1200 ish people the Yorkshire brand is not working,the investment into the Brand is also not going to work. Anyone in Doncaster or Rotherham say with money to invest in rugby Union would not invest in Leeds that would go down like a lead ballon in their respective areas!!! We in the North do need another Premiership team but I am sure it will not be Leeds on many grounds.we need to sustain our position first as our own job has a long way to go.Not sure we have the right Rugby people in place to take us forward.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: pa8 (IP Logged)
Date: 12/10/2016 13:13

Personally I don't agree entirely with the 'it's not fair as it's too late to sign decent players' routine. I think everyone knows that a newly promoted side are likely to struggle, this includes players. Not many players would jump at the chance for a season of struggle if other offers are on the table. If a good player is available he is likely to opt for a team that, maybe, isn't looking at being hammered all season long.. As mentioned above it's a convenient excuse to cover for an immediate relegation.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: leemingtyke (IP Logged)
Date: 12/10/2016 20:55

Quote:
Wensleydale Falcon
My concerns for Carnegie would be their fan base......granted ours isn't massive but we are now getting upwards of 6000k for most games with the odd 7/8k thrown in.
That's down to a combination of things mainly the massive amounts of hard work that Mick Hogan and his team have put in over the last 2/3 years and the improvements made around KP.

Carnegie would need a massive financial backer as they are struggling to get many more than 2k and there just doesn't appear to be the appetite for rugby union in Leeds.

I would love to see Carnegie in the Prem but I can't see them being sustainable.

Now then Wensleydale!

Thing is, if you're using attendances as a measure of sustainability then most current Premiership clubs would fail, including Falcons I think.

Most Premiership clubs can put their 'sustainability' down to a generous financial backer. That's not sustainability, it's dependence. We don't have that backer at the moment but I think the idea is that we'll have more chance of attracting one if we're in the Prem.

We'll be Yorkshire Tykes by then by the way :-)

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Wensleydale Falcon (IP Logged)
Date: 12/10/2016 22:49

Evening Leeming....I guessed that this would be of interest to you!!

There are I believe two types of business models for those owning a rugby club or any other sports club for that matter.

1, Be a self sufficient business based on attendances and sponsorship opportunities with the key being to " live within your means " this is pretty much what our owner Semore is working towards and is in my opinion the absolute correct way to move forward and achieve the long term sustainability of the club.

2, Have a big financial backer as you mentioned who is willing to pump millions of pounds into the club with no chance of getting any return (only major losses....I believe ours have recently run at about 2/3million per year if not more) and if things don't go to plan that backer may withdraw their funding at anytime with the potential implications been the club going out of business.

I personally just don't see that backer around for Leeds as if they were my guess would be that they would be involved with the club now whilst in the Championship putting the building blocks in place for a future in the Premiership (I could well be wrong)

I would certainly be interested as to what other Leeds supporters opinions are on the subject.as I said earlier it would be great to have you back in the Prem....a guaranteed 10 points for us for a start. Happy days!!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2016:10:12:22:51:29 by Wensleydale Falcon.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Monkey1 (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 07:28

Quote:
Wensleydale Falcon

....a guaranteed 10 points for us for a start. Happy days!!

Oh there's nothing like a bit of local rivalry.

Seriously though it would be great to have Leeds/Yorkshire/Tykes in the prem. A trip to Headingley used to be a highlight of the season, very much missed.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Wensleydale Falcon (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 11:23

Just a bit of banter Monkey as I know Leemingtyke personally.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: Kwa444 (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 12:29

The point about big money backers is correct - just look at the comments from Boujeddal at Toulon recently. I don't think they would stay top flight without him, just as we eventually drifted downwards after SJH'S millions left until the current owner took over.

I know there are entrenched views on here and I can't honestly comment on Yorkshire. However, I would like to see the AP expand in the same way that the Super tournament has. Currently the format isn't ideal but they are at the stage I believe just before they move to 2 properly competitive and professional leagues with promotion and relegation.

Sadly we are a long way from that and the sham promotion/relegation situation at the moment coupled with the pointless cup needs rectifying.

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: leemingtyke (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 12:29

Haha,

Once we get up to speed Wensley, the only way you'll be leaving Leeds with any points is if the camera on the 64 catches you!

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: aidanb (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 12:39

Quote:
leemingtyke
Haha,
Once we get up to speed Wensley, the only way you'll be leaving Leeds with any points is if the camera on the 64 catches you!

what car are you driving to get you up to that speed ?
(Sm151)

Re: Bristol prospects?
Posted by: leemingtyke (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2016 17:55

Quote:
aidanb
Quote:
leemingtyke
Haha,
Once we get up to speed Wensley, the only way you'll be leaving Leeds with any points is if the camera on the 64 catches you!

what car are you driving to get you up to that speed ?
(Sm151)

Ha yes, maybe I should've said once the mighty Tykes get up to speed.

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