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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore