Andy Robinson appointed director of rugby at Bristol

Former England and Scotland coach returns to rugby

Former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson has been appointed as Bristol's new director of rugby.

The Championship club announced today that 48-year-old Robinson will start work on March 1.

He watched Bristol beat Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium yesterday, with the west country club remaining on course to make this season's promotion play-offs.

Robinson resigned as Scotland boss following a dismal autumn series earlier this season that culminated in a defeat against Tonga after losses to New Zealand and South Africa.

But Bristol chairman Chris Booy has been in discussion with the ex-Bath and England flanker for several weeks, culminating in today's announcement.

Robinson was a member of England's coaching staff under Sir Clive Woodward during the successful 2003 World Cup campaign, and then he succeeded Woodward in the top job between 2004 and 2006.

He has also coached Bath and Edinburgh, leading Bath to the 1998 Heineken Cup final, when they beat Brive in Bordeaux to be crowned European champions.

"I am delighted to be joining Bristol Rugby at such an exciting time for the club," Robinson said.

"I firmly believe that with the passion for rugby in the region and the vision of the owners, Bristol has the potential to be one of the most successful sides in England.

"I am looking forward to building a squad with a blend of experience and young, home-grown talent, to play an exciting and winning brand of rugby.

"Our immediate objective is to achieve promotion back to the Aviva Premiership as soon as possible."

Bristol have confirmed that Liam Middleton will continue as head coach, while recent news signings for next season include Gloucester flanker Peter Buxton, Northampton lock Mark Sorenson and Worcester full-back Errie Claassens.

Bristol, who are backed by Guernsey-based millionaire Steve Lansdown, are looking to regain Premiership status next season, although Newcastle remain firm Championship title favourites.

Booy said: "Since Steve Lansdown has become involved with the club (during the 2008-09 season) we have been very serious about what where we want to be, but it has been difficult to attract the right players and somebody like Andy.

"This appointment shows that we are serious. We want the best people to do the best jobs, and that is not just director of rugby, but also players.

"Andy's appointment shows that we are going to get there, and there are no more ifs, but it's when.

"We have signed four Premiership players and we have a good squad here, but we need Premiership players. We are talking to another five or six, and we back the investment in players to go along with it.

"We are delighted that Andy is joining us as director of rugby. Liam has done a good job - he has put us in a good place - and he is going to work with Andy. We think that is a winning combination.

"This is a long-term appointment, and Andy's experience speaks for itself.

"He is a world-class coach, an England World Cup and Heineken Cup winner. His credentials are as good as anybody, and we now have one of the best coaches in the world at the club.

"We need to get going quickly because we cannot be in this league any longer than we have to be. Andy's appointment says that we are not going to be here, we are going to get out of this.

"The rugby infrastructure of this city means that we can be one of the great clubs in Europe. We have spent many weeks over the matter before Andy agreed to join us, though he has had a number of other offers."

Bristol recently announced plans to ground-share with Bristol City Football Club, where Lansdown is the majority share-holder, either at Ashton Gate or a new stadium at Ashton Vale.

PA

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