Bristol Rugby have signalled their intent to return to the Premiership at the earliest opportunity with the signing of Wasps and former Gloucester fly half Nicky Robinson. The 31 year old who has also been capped by Wales 13 times has signed a 3 year deal with Bristol and will join at the end of the current season.
Today's (Thursday) announcement comes less than a week after Bristol Rugby unveiled former England and Scotland head coach Andy Robinson had joined the Championship outfit as director of rugby. The 48-year-old former Bath flanker will start work at the Memorial Stadium on March 1.
The aim is to return Bristol to the Aviva Premiership at the earliest opportunity. Liam Middleton's team are currently 4th in the Championship, but it is Newcastle who are clear favourites for promotion having won every match so far this season. However, Nicky says he's committed to the club's long term plans:
Bristol's ambitious plans are being funded by Stephen Lansdown, long-time owner of Bristol City who is plotting their return to rugby's top table. Bristol Rugby haven't played in the Premiership since 2009 when financial difficulties and just 2 victories all season led to their relegation.
Previous highs, included a 3rd place finish in the Premiership in 2007, securing a Heineken Cup place for only the second time and then went on to reach the semi-finals of the play-offs.
Whether Bristol can replicate those highs again in the future remains to be seen, however they can take heart from the success of West Country rivals Exeter who were promoted to the Premiership at the expense of Bristol in 2010. Since then the Chiefs have been something of a surprise package in the Premiership, finishing 8th in their first season before qualifying for the Heineken Cup the following year.