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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

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Sell-out international matches are 'hopefully the future' for Bristol

By Chris Jones
Press Association

Bristol Bears boss Pam Lam believes the club’s sold-out clash with South Africa at Ashton Gate on Thursday offers one way of trying to recoup an expected loss of £1m caused by the demise of Wasps and Worcester and could be the start of a series of similar fixtures with international teams.

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Bristol were supposed to host Wasps over the New Year celebrations and with the fixture list now having to be rearranged, maximising income opportunities is critical even with the support of billionaire owner Steve Lansdown, who also owns Bristol City FC.

Lam has revealed that Bristol initially tried to get a match with Australia to fill in their scheduled bye week when the original fixtures for a 13-team Premiership were announced. However, that proved impossible but an alternative game with South Africa A was added to the fixture list and is a 27,000 sell-out with a full house of hospitality taken as well.

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Not only is this a significant financial windfall for the club, it gives the players an opportunity to test themselves against international opposition before facing their next two challenging Premiership games with Sale and Leicester.

Lam said: “This match has shown there is an appetite for these fixtures and this is hopefully the future. We are thankful to have this game because we have lost a lot of money this year on the Worcester and Wasps games and also the Bath game being cancelled. This is a little bit of a help but it still doesn’t replace the income we have lost particularly as we are without a New Year game. We are taking a big hit there.

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“When you have 12 or 13 teams in the Premiership there is no room for this kind of fixture but we knew with a bye something could be fixed. When you get down to 10 or 11 teams the beauty of it is you have 18 or 20 rounds and so you are not playing on international dates. So, you have a window to organise these fixtures and that is a positive outcome if the league is reduced.

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“The international players love mid-week games and from our perspective just look at the crowd coming to the match. Our players are being given jerseys they can swap and there will be a traditional after match function with both teams able to have a meal together with some speeches.”

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