Ronnie Regan returns as Bristol look to clip Falcons’ wing

Hooker Mark Regan returns for the first time since suffering a calf injury against Northampton on January 3rd as Bristol Rugby announce their side for the vital Guinness Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons.


‘Ronnie’ limped out of that game and the initial prognosis didn’t look promising but he has responded well to treatment, dedicated himself to his rehab and managed a brief run out for the Barbarians against the Scarlets.

He returns to the starting line up as do Luke Arscott and Alfie To’oala who were both forced to leave the field during the side’s last competitive match against Montpellier because of injury.

The rest of the line up is similar to the one that started against Montpellier although Nathan Budgett replaces Robert Sidoli in the second row as Sidoli suffered a depressed skull fracture in that fixture.

And, of particular note amongst the replacements, is the return of Joe El Abd who has made a remarkable recovery from a torn bicep whilst Luke Eves has been released from England U20s duty to appear in this game.

Head Coach Richard Hill was pulling no punches regarding the magnitude of the fixture when he revealed his team this week.

“It’s absolutely pivotal. I’m certainly not going to play down the importance of the game to the players. If Newcastle beat us, they’ll potentially open up an 11 point gap which would be difficult to pull back at this stage of the season.”

“On the positive side, if we beat Newcastle, then the momentum will definitely be with us. They’ll be looking over their shoulders and we’ll be looking to press on.”

He also admitted that playing a couple of fixtures in the European Challenge Cup had been good for the squad.

“We’ve had back to back wins for the first time in a while and the first one, on the road in France, was particularly important for us. We’ve had a bit of a break from the Guinness Premiership and beaten two good French sides so we’re more confident than we were a few weeks ago.”

“It’s a huge game and we need an extra special performance from the players and an extra special one from the supporters. They’ve been brilliant so far and if we can generate an intimidating atmosphere then that will be worth a few points start.”

Bristol Rugby:

Luke Arscott; Lee Robinson, Nathan Brew, Neil Brew, David Lemi; Ed Barnes, Shaun Perry; Mark Irish, Mark Regan, Darren Crompton; Roy Winters, Nathan Budgett; Matt Salter (capt), Alfie To’oala, Dan Ward-Smith


David Blaney, Wayne Thompson, Dave Attwood, Joe El Abd, Graeme Beveridge, Adrian Jarvis, Luke Eves

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