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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Born-again Bristol target trophy
Jack Rowell is the former England coach
Rowell wants to reward people who stood by Bristol
Bristol expect to be virtually at full strength for Saturday's Zurich Championship final with west country rivals Gloucester at Twickenham.

Coach Dean Ryan will only be without long-term injury victim Andrew Higgins as Bristol seek to cap a remarkable revival.

Three years ago the club was relegated to the National League and at one point had to release every player from their contracts.

Long-serving flanker Craig Short had to work as a bricklayer before the club was able to take him back on.


Although Saturday's match will be very difficult, a trophy would be a fantastic reward for everyone who has stuck by the club
Bristol MD
Jack Rowell

They were in real danger of going the same way as Richmond and London Scottish, the highest-profile casualties of the professional era.

However, Malcolm Pearce arrived and plunged his hands deep into his pockets to lift the club back to the Premiership.

The arrival of former England coach Jack Rowell as managing director proved pivotal in Bristol's transformation and he admits it has been a hard struggle

"Climbing the mountain again has been pretty difficult," admitted Rowell.

"As Richmond and London Scottish have found, once you get into financial trouble it is very difficult to get out.

Heineken qualification

"Despite being a big city club, Bristol had lost its way and it owes a great debt to Malcolm for what he has done."

Bristol's semi-final success against Northampton means they have a Heineken Cup campaign to look forward to next season, as well as the possibility of silverware to round off this year.

They expect to take 10,000 fans to London and Rowell - who rumours suggest is off to Bath next season - is determined that they should have something to celebrate.

"Although Saturday's match will be very difficult, a trophy would be a fantastic reward for everyone who has stuck by the club," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Bristol chief Jack Rowell
"This announces Bristol rugby's arrival"
Bristol head coach Dean Ryan
"For long-time supporters it's been traumatic"
See also:

02 Jun 02 | English
01 Jun 02 | English
19 May 02 | English
18 May 02 | English
20 Apr 02 | English
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