Bears, City or Rovers? What does the season hold for Bristol’s sports teams

Bristol is known as a city of culture, creativity, and community. But it is also the hub for sport in the South West.

If you’re a rugby fan or a football fanatic, read on for our round up of how the city’s sports teams are getting on this season.

 Bristol Rover’s Women’s team
Image Credit: Bristol Rovers
Bristol City FC Squad
Image Credit: Bristol City

Bristol Rovers

Having been relegated last season, the summer was meant to be a turning point for Bristol Rovers – affectionately known as the ‘Gas’. The squad had been overhauled, manager Joey Barton had a full pre-season to work with the players after a tumultuous end to the last campaign and, well, it couldn’t be worse than last season could it?

11 games into the season, that late summer optimism has drained away for many fans. With just 4 wins under their belt, Bristol Rovers are in the bottom half of the League 2 table. While a number of players have been absent through injury, there are rumblings of discontent on the terraces and the pressure on the management is only set to increase unless Rovers’ form improves significantly in the coming weeks.

But while the men’s team is short on confidence, after their re-launch in 2019, the ‘Gas Girls’ - as Bristol Rovers women’s team are known – have had a bright start to their new season. Having been promoted last year, they secured their fourth league victory in a row against Cheltenham Town Ladies last weekend and look a good bet to secure back-to-back promotions come the end of the season.

Bristol City

With a fantastic stadium at Ashton Gate, the long-term backing of local entrepreneur Steve Lansdown and a squad full of talent, Bristol City undoubtedly have current bragging rights over cross-town rivals Bristol Rovers. And the Robins’s season has started the brighter too.

After 10 games, Bristol City sit ninth in the Championship, with plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the season ahead. Under manager Nigel Pearson the team are looking settled and have put together a string of encouraging performances against some of the best clubs in the league. City’s home form is a concern, but a play-off run should be well within their grasp as they chase the dream of Premier League football next year.

The optimism at Ashton Gate is not confined to the men’s Team either. City’s women’s squad have already matched last year’s tally of wins after just 6 games of the new season. New manager Lauren Smith has settled back in well following her return to the club where she started out as a coach and, despite falling to a loss at Charlton Athletic last week, will be looking for the team to bounce back up to the Women’s Super League at the first time of asking this season.

Bristol Bears
Image Credit: Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears

After a season that promised so much, the 2019/20 season ended with heartbreak when Bristol Bears threw away a 28-0 lead their semi-final against Harlequins to miss out on a shot at the title. Plenty of pundits wondered what sort of scars might be left by such a sucker-punch, and the opening games of this season suggested that Pat Lam’s side were struggling to put that defeat behind them.

Last Friday’s game against the same opponents offered a chance for redemption. Yet incredibly history repeated itself as Bristol saw an early 21-0 lead evaporate into a humbling 51-24 loss.

After being consistent front-runners for the last few seasons, only the brave would bet against the Bears making the play offs again this year. But after ruling the roost near the top of the Gallagher Premiership in recent years, the Bears have work to do to in the coming weeks to kickstart their season.

But while the men’s fragility will be a cause for concern for Director of Rugby Pat Lam, there are no such worries for Bristol Bears’ women.

With excitement already building after taking the points in their first four games of the seasons, the team stepped up another level to beat defending Champions Harlequins last week in arguably the most impressive performance of any Bristol-based team so far this year. And with star winger Jasmine Joyce now back in the fold after her exploits for Great Britain in the World Sevens series, the Bears Women are full of confidence for the season ahead.