Bristolian stalwart Joe Joyce has taken the decision to depart Bristol Bears at the end of the 2022/23 season to join Irish province Connacht.
After more than eleven years and 151 appearances since graduating through the Academy, Joyce will depart for a new challenge in the west of Ireland next summer.
“As everyone knows I’m a homegrown lad and a proud Bristolian, but I’m also hugely proud of my Irish heritage, so when this opportunity came about, I had to make a really tough decision and Connacht is really the only other club I’d play for,” said Joyce.
“I’ve been here ten years now and loved every second of it, but if I’m going to take on a new challenge, it’s got to be next year. I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved at Bristol over such a long time but if I looked back on my career and didn’t take the opportunity to play in a different environment, I didn’t want any regrets.
“I think the right move for me now would be to represent the Joyce name and my heritage in Galway. I’ve had some emotional conversations with Pat, Steve, Jon and Chris and they’ve been very supportive and understood the feelings behind it.
“I’ll always be grateful for how understanding they’ve been and what they have done for me and for sport in this city. Before Pat came, some people said I’d never play in the Premiership and now I’ve captained the club, made over 150 appearances and won a European Cup.
“I said I didn’t want them to try and make me an offer to stay because playing for Bristol has never been about the money. I just know that now is the right time for me to experience something new.
“It’s not over yet – there’s a huge season ahead of us and I’m determined to help make it the best one yet.”
OTHER 11 DEPARTURES:
Alapati Leiua and John Afoa ( French Pro D2 side RC Vannes)Embed from Getty Images
Dave Attwood (Bath)Embed from Getty Images