Bristol Rugbys plans to change their name to the Bristol Bears for their return to the Premiership next season has received a lukewarm response from supporters.
The club announced the rebranding, which includes a new team badge, on Monday, saying that it hoped the move would attract new fans in an increasingly international marketplace.
Sentiment closer to home, however, was less than positive. A poll on the Bristol Posts website found 74 per cent of more than 700 voters were unhappy with the transformation.
A leading fans group, meanwhile, complained that the club had not consulted them over the rebranding.
“Im not best pleased,” Bristol Rugby Supporters Club treasurer Mike West told the BBC. “Im absolutely puzzled why they didnt consult the Bristol Rugby Supporters Club, which represents a majority of fans.
“Im confused about why. This is a club that has been around since 1888 and is one the oldest rugby clubs that still exists at the highest levels. I dont understand why they have suddenly contorted the name after 130 years without some reference.”
— Bristol Rugby (@Bristol_RFC) April 16, 2018
Bristol published a 19-page document explaining the move, which includes passages titles “bear in spirit” – “when the bear reawakens from hibernation, it is a force to be reckoned with” – and “bear in mind”, which concludes: “Its in all of us”.
Club owner Stephen Lansdown said: “We have to be prepared to break the mould and be relentless in driving the progression of this rugby club. In a challenging market, in order to attract investment and new audiences, we must be brave in our vision.”