Ross Rennie latest Bristol recruit to gamble on promotion

Bristol are expected to add to their ever-increasing roster of top-class signings today by persuading Ross Rennie, the Scottish international flanker, to commit himself to a full-time contract.

Rennie has long been a favourite of the club’s rugby director Andy Robinson, who coached him at Test level, and his impact at the Memorial Ground since arriving on loan from Edinburgh has been significant.

Increasingly, the West Countrymen are also being linked with a move for the Wales and Lions back James Hook, whose tour of duty on the far side of the English Channel with Perpignan may reach a sudden conclusion if the struggling Catalans are relegated, even though he is said to have agreed a new deal through to 2017.

Bristol sources are distancing themselves from any immediate move for the former Ospreys player, who is attracting interest both from the wealthy French side Lyon and from teams in Japan, but if Perpignan disappear from the elite French Top 14 league, there may be a rethink.

Quite why Alan Solomons, the man in charge of union matters in the Scottish capital, allowed a forward as accomplished as the 28-year-old Rennie to leave Murrayfield in the first place, only he can explain. Robinson, for one, is deeply grateful. Almost on a weekly basis, he is strengthening his squad ahead of what he hopes will be a Premiership campaign next season: Bristol are safely in the play-offs, meet Rotherham in a two-leg semi-final early next month and, should they progress as expected, will take on either London Welsh or Leeds for the single available promotion slot.

Jack Lam, the Samoan international back-rower currently playing Super 15 rugby in the southern hemisphere with the Wellington-based Hurricanes, is a definite arrival in the summer, as are two highly experienced Welsh internationals with Lions Test experience: the scrum-half Dwayne Peel and the back-five forward Ryan Jones.

Add to that a couple more Samoans in the wing David Lemi, who will leave Worcester for a second stint with Bristol at season’s end, and the Bath prop Anthony Perenise, plus a bright young playmaking talent in the whippet-like shape of the Ospreys outside-half Matthew Morgan, and the seriousness of the recruitment drive is there for all to see.

Robinson believes his side are ready to advance to the top flight, and to make a decent fist of it once they get there. But the pressure is on: their achievements over the campaign to date – they have not been the tightest defensively, but their tally of 18 try-scoring bonus points in 23 league matches is nothing short of startling – count for nothing now that the play-off phase is imminent. One bad day at the office will leave them pondering another season in the second tier, almost certainly with the powerful Worcester for company.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future