From the Championship to the Champions Cup – The rapid rise of Bristol Bears

It’s fair to say that the Wurzels aren’t the most common soundtrack in the south of France.

However, the Scrumpy and Western band originating from Somerset were showcased to the University town of Aix-en-Provence on Friday night, as the Bristol Bears made history by beating established powerhouse’s Toulon on their own turf to claim a maiden European trophy.

This triumph has showcased Pat Lam’s exciting side to the rest of Europe, and will no doubt have surprised many given the club were plying their trade in the second tier of English rugby just two seasons previous.

However, to many who have closely followed the operations of the club since the New Zealander took the reigns in the summer of 2017, this upwards trajectory was always likely to end in silverware.

Head of Sport at Gloucestershire Live Rob Iles hailed the impact of Lam, as the Bears begin to hunt at the top.

“Bristol have really caught the eye, Lam’s been able to bring in all of these star players. It’s only a matter of time before they do win a Premiership title.”

Facing opponents such as Cornish Pirates and Rotherham as recently as 2018 in the Championship, Ashton Gate is now home to established talents such as Semi Radradra, Charles Piutua, and Steve Luatua.

Credit also has to go to owner Steve Lansdown, who alongside Lam, has overseen the transformation of the club.

Tony Cox, host of the popular ‘Bears Beyond the Gate’ podcast, was quick to praise the Guernsey-based businessman and believes that this Challenge Cup triumph is just the start of a dominant period for the West Country side.

Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown ahead of Friday’s final

“You can’t forget the contribution of Mr Lansdown,” he said.

“He’s brought in world-class players, who have moved the club to the next level. The stadium is brilliant, and we also have promising youngsters coming through in Harry Randall and Callum Sheedy.”

“The club have such a bright future, I’m proud to be a Bristol Bears fan.”

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