A trio of homegrown talent are set to make the step up from the Integrated Academy to the Bristol Bears first team squad on July 1st, 2020.
Hooker Will Capon, utility back Charlie Powell and back rower James Dun – three of the most exciting prospects to come through the Academy system in recent years – become senior squad members, all at the age of 20 years old.
How about that for some creativity from a front-row?!— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 8, 2020
Will Capon had his thinking cap on for a brilliant offload while being driven into touch 🙌@BristolBears are up for it today! pic.twitter.com/hTg1lIWWBj
Capon has excelled in the Premiership this season, making sixteen outings and scoring five tries. Fellow Bristolians Powell has made six appearances during the current campaign, scoring twice, while James Dun has three senior outings this season.
Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “We’re delighted about how well Charlie, Will and James have progressed, particularly over the past twelve months. To have young Bristolians in our squad who have represented Bears in competitive action and represented their country at age-grade level is something that is core to our vision.
These @BristolBears can play a bit can't they…🐾🐾— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) September 28, 2019
A casual @Sheedy95 cross-field, quickly through the hands, straighten and @charlie_powell4's helping himself 💨💨#PremRugbyCup rugby, beautiful as ever 👌👌 pic.twitter.com/762ZkV5O5a
“These men have earned the right to step into the senior squad and have shown the commitment, quality and drive that reflect the Bears Team culture. The challenge for the guys now is to keep learning, remain coachable and establish themselves as leaders in the group. They will be the shining light for the next crop of Academy players coming through.”
What a full strength Bristol Bears XV might look like next season
Although many more of the 40 plus squad could make an argument for inclusion, here’s a potential Bristol Bears XV ahead of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season.
Player whose names are in italics are players Bristol are rumoured to be interested in, but are yet to be signed.
A POTENTIAL BRISTOL BEARS XV
1. John Afoa
A World Cup-winning All Black international of 36 caps, the experienced prop joined the club in 2018.
The tight-head was named in the Gallagher Premiership team of the season in 2018/19 after another remarkable campaign in the top flight.
2. Harry Thacker
A skillful dynamo of a hooker, Thacker was added to Pat Lam’s squad for the 2018/19 season.
In an impressive debut season that included a hat-trick versus Wasps and a scintillating brace versus Tigers, Thacker was listed in the Guardian team of the year.
3. Kyle Sinckler
The 26-year-old British & Irish Lions forward will switch Premiership clubs in the summer of 2020.
Sinckler, who made his professional debut for Quins in September 2011, was a key part of England’s 2019 World Cup side but only played three minutes of the final against South Africa after being knocked unconscious in a collision with team-mate Maro Itoje.
4. Chris Vui
The 24 year-old – who can play second row or back row – earned his first cap for Samoa during the 2016 November internationals.
Vui became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017, before earning a spot in the Championship team of the season.
In 2019, Vui made his debut for the Barbarians following an impressive campaign for the Bears in the Gallagher Premiership.
5. George Kruis
A decade after his debut for Saracens, the 29-year-old Lion from Guildford is understood to be considering a career move to the Far East, having been there last autumn for the World Cup.
However, if the Bears could convince Kruis to remain in the Gallagher Premiership and come to Ashton Gate, he would make their line-out imperious.