Andy Robinson’s future at Bristol is assured

 

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The Independent Online

Andy Robinson has never been much good at concealing his emotions and there was nothing poker-faced about him when his Bristol side's push for Premiership promotion fell short in the most agonising of circumstances at Worcester on Wednesday night. But the former England boss will be back at Ashton Gate next season, hatching yet another plot to drag a once great club out of the basement and back into the shop window.

“There is no debate,” said Chris Booy, the chairman, who met with the club’s billionaire majority shareholder Stephen Lansdown on Thursday, a few hours after the second-leg draw at Sixways that gave Worcester the spoils by the grand total of a single point, 59-58 on aggregate. “Andy will be here. He is contracted and he wants to do it.

“He is hurt and he is grieving, like all of us: he feels he has let me and Stephen down, as well as the supporters. But we signed him with a three-year plan in mind, we have just finished the second year and we have improved dramatically in the last 12 months. We are now a Premiership club playing Championship rugby and we are already planning how we can ensure – ensure – we are promoted next season.”

Having finished top of the second-tier league only to find themselves edged out in the play-offs for the third time in six campaigns, Bristol may find themselves under pressure in the player market. Cardiff Blues are said to be keen on luring the outside-half Matthew Morgan back across the Severn Bridge, while Booy said there would have to be “an honest conversation” with the Wasps wing Tom Varndell, one of the headline signings for the 2015-16 season. Varndell is thought to have a get-out clause in his contract.

Meanwhile, last season’s domestic champions Northampton, who relinquished their title in losing to Saracens in last weekend’s Premiership semi-final, have confirmed 10 departures. The Wallaby prop Salesi Ma’afu and the American back-five enforcer Samu Manoa, will join the French club Toulon; Dominic Waldouck, the centre, has agreed terms with London Irish; while Phil Dowson, the former England flanker, is heading for Worcester.

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