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Connacht sign Bristol 'club legend' Joe Joyce

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Tommy Dickson/Pool/Getty Images)

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Bristol Bears secondrow Joe Joyce has signed for Connacht in the URC, and is set to leave his hometown club after 11 seasons and 151 appearances to date.


The 28-year-old will make the move to Connacht in a year’s time, at the end of 2022/23 season, with both club’s confirmed the move early.

The 6’6, 119kg forward got quite emotional in an interview with Bristol Bears on his decision to leave.

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“As everyone knows I’m a homegrown lad and a proud Bristolian, but I’m also hugely proud of my Irish heritage, so when this opportunity came about, I had to make a really tough decision and Connacht is really the only other club I’d play for,” said Joyce.

“I’ve been here ten years now and loved every second of it, but if I’m going to take on a new challenge, it’s got to be next year. I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved at Bristol over such a long time but if I looked back on my career and didn’t take the opportunity to play in a different environment, I didn’t want any regrets.

“I think the right move for me now would be to represent the Joyce name and my heritage in Galway. I’ve had some emotional conversations with Pat, Steve, Jon and Chris and they’ve been very supportive and understood the feelings behind it.


“I’ll always be grateful for how understanding they’ve been and what they have done for me and for sport in this city. Before Pat came, some people said I’d never play in the Premiership and now I’ve captained the club, made over 150 appearances and won a European Cup.


“I said I didn’t want them to try and make me an offer to stay because playing for Bristol has never been about the money. I just know that now is the right time for me to experience something new.

“It’s not over yet – there’s a huge season ahead of us and I’m determined to help make it the best one yet.”


Joyce was named the Bears’ Player of the Season in 2017/18, when he played a leading role in their promotion back to the top flight.

Head Coach Andy Friend says: “We are thrilled Joe has chosen to join the club for the start of the 2023/24 season. Whilst we know his arrival is still 12 months away, we are already excited by the prospect of what he will bring to Connacht Rugby and his signing represents a key addition to the squad we are looking to build.

“Joe is a big physical lock, with excellent athletic and footballing ability and so he is a great fit for how we want play. Off the pitch Joe is also the type of player who understands the importance of community and I have no doubt he will make a positive impact in that area, something we as a club place a significant value on.”


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