Bristol Ladies looking forward to 'exciting times' after moving to new headquarters
BRISTOL Ladies are moving from their base at Dings Crusaders' Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze to take up residence at the Portway Rugby Development Centre in Sea Mills.
The switch means that the RFUW Premiership club will no longer have to share facilities, as they will be the sole occupier of the Portway complex.
It is hoped that the move will help develop the women's game in the area, with the club planning to launch a girls' section to cover under-13, under-15 and under-18 age grades.
Bristol Ladies are also in the process of becoming an accredited RFU club – the first all women's club to do so.
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ALM Sports and Bristol City Council, who run the site, described the move as "positive for everyone concerned".
ALM spokesman Steve Allington said: "After a year of negotiation, we are pleased to welcome Bristol Ladies to the Portway Centre. It will be fantastic to have regular rugby being played here. This is a great venue, but the facilities were not being used to their full potential.
"But now Bristol Ladies are here, that's all about to change, and we're looking forward very much to the future."
Club captain Heidi Chapman-Mercer said: "These are exciting times for the Bristol Ladies club.
"We have been striving for our own facilities for a long time now and this move will give us the opportunity to develop the women's game in the area. Everybody concerned is really looking forward to the challenge ahead."
Grand Slam winners Izzy Noel-Smith, pictured left, and Marlie Packer, right, added more silverware to their bulging trophy cabinets, following Bristol Ladies' annual awards ceremony.
Noel-Smith picked up two trophies – the Players' Player and the first-team Player of the Season gongs – while Packer was voted Club Personality of the Year. Sally Tuson landed the Most Improved Player award, Jennie Popham was the second-team's Player of the Season and Carmen Etheridge lifted the second-team's Most Improved Player cup.
Heidi Hall and Chapman-Mercer shared the Club Person of the Year accolade, while the Club Captain's award went to Julie Price.
A superb second-half performance, saw St Mary's Ladies to a comfortable 32-0 success over Paignton Ladies in a National Challenge South West A play-off fixture at Northwood Park.
No 8 Katie Sully continued her rich vein of form, scoring four tries, with Kirsty Fido and Lucy Bowering also crossing the whitewash for the Winterbourne-based club. Laura Rugman added one conversion.
Saints made a good start and took a 5-0 lead, courtesy of Sully's opening try. Esther Gasa Fonollosa came close to extending the advantage, but, on three occasions she was adjudged to have put a foot in touch while in the act of scoring.
However, the home side hit their straps in a one-sided second half and posted 27 points without reply.
Saints have one fixture remaining, at home to Penryn Ladies on Sunday (2pm).