What Bristol owner Lansdown is saying 11 weeks after title failure
Bristol owner Steve Lansdown has given his verdict on a Bears season that ended in heartbreak with Gallagher Premiership semi-final defeat to ultimate champions Harlequins eleven weeks ago at Ashton Gate. Pat Lam’s table-topping side were hotly fancied to go on and be crowned champions of England for the first time when the regulation season ended with Bristol finishing three points clear of Exeter at the top.
That gave them a home semi-final against Harlequins, the fourth-place London club that finished 14 points behind the Bears. However, rather than Bristol moving forward to contest the Twickenham final versus the Chiefs, they were ambushed by Quins 43-36 in an incredible Premiership match that went to extra time.
Bristol had led 28-0 shortly before half-time but they lost their way in the second half and were finished off in extra time, denying club owner Lansdown his title-chasing afternoon in London the following weekend. The Bears will now open the new 2021/22 season when they play host to newly-promoted Saracens on September 17 and Lansdown will be hoping it is a first step forward towards rectifying the disappointment of last season.
“We are on target if you look at what we set out to achieve,” insisted Lansdown on Bears TV about his club where the 2017 appointment of Lam as the boss was pivotal in their long-term planning for success. “We were ahead of target and we have allowed ourselves to go back on target. That’s the disappointing side of it but if that is the biggest disappointment we are going to have maybe we shouldn’t be too upset about it.
“Our target was always to be in the final this year (2021/22) and to look to win it – and that’s where we want to be. We want to do well in the Champions Cup as well. We are on a journey and we are moving well along the path to success, having more success. We’re an ambitious club. We have got plenty of investment, we have got the right facilities, the right management, the right players and we are all in this together.”
England back-rower Ben Earl is one of 3 season-long loan players ready to play for Saracens for the first time after their year awayhttps://t.co/0kvHUDksKl
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 2, 2021
With fans now allowed back in stadiums without restriction, Bristol’s popularity is evident in the sale of in excess of 10,000 season tickets with 15 days still to go before the start of the new campaign. “To be beyond the 10,000 mark before the season starts is absolutely fantastic. We are getting on a par with football now and we know we are going to be having a decent crowd every week and that is going to be topped up by members and by people buying tickets on the day, travelling support.
“It just creates a marvellous atmosphere at Ashton Gate for every game. It has always been our ambition to average over 20,000 a game and we are well on target to do that. The club is the heart of the community and it is certainly well established in that role now… sport brings people together and that is what we are doing. That is the legacy.”
'We have the best training centre in the country and that is not bragging, that is just factual'@BristolBears CEO Mark Tainton on their new training centre, ring-fencing, Lam, Radradra & how a clean-out of players in 2017 was needed, writes @heagneyl https://t.co/fsHrkGupXc
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 12, 2020
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