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.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin